The Foundation

At the age of 18, Rick decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. “At no point in my education did I ever think I’d do anything different,” Rick said. He graduated with a Manufacturing Engineering degree from Miami University, and went on to receive his MBA from Kansas University.

The first job Rick took was 500 miles away from home at SPX Cooling Technologies. “It’ll just be for a year or two,” he told to himself at the time. Instead, there he met his wife, married and had three children. “That turned into home,” he said of the 15-year stint.

Four years into his role at SPX, Rick began to see the interconnectedness of the departments outside of engineering. He started dabbling in product development and sales, discovering what products to bring to market. His curiosity led him to becoming the Global Product Manager, working on a closed-circuit fluid cooler. Rick was tasked with manufacturing and growing that product, educating the market, creating marketing collateral and measuring the competitive landscape.

“It was my favorite role, ever,” Rick said. He found it extremely fulfilling to work with all aspects of the business and fostering collaboration throughout the teams. Even today, the fluid cooler remains a core part of the SPX business.

As Rick was embracing his new commercial role, he recalled a rough patch where orders were soft and competition was taking share. Rick was in his late 20s and remembers being called into a critical meeting to discuss the company’s challenges. As all of the managers were gathered, one message was conveyed: “No one else is going to tell us how to fix this. It’s up the 12 people here to figure out how we’re going turn this around.”
Young and fresh in his career, those words stuck with Rick. There was no one above him telling him what to do. The answers were not written on a wall. It was up to this team of executives to take ownership and lead. “That was so empowering to hear, so inspiring.”

After his product management role, Rick went on to experience other parts of the business to expand his awareness and acumen including engineering management, research and development, and operations.  

Rick speaking at a sales meeting in April 2019.

Mentors Matter

Next on Rick’s career path was CST Industries, a manufacturer of storage tanks and covers for dry bulk and liquid storage. During his four-year tenure, Rick advanced from the Vice President of Product Development to Vice President of Sales and Marketing. It was at CST that Rick met Steve Westfall, Tuthill’s incoming CEO as of 2020. Steve soon became a mentor for Rick. Steve demonstrated the impact of building relationships and empowering team members by allowing them to stretch, be comfortable with tough conversations, and own their space.

“I remember meeting Steve and immediately feeling a sense of trust and respect for him,” Rick reflected. “He is a leader who connects with people and sees beyond a title or role. He encouraged me to be the leader I knew I was capable of. I could pull from both my engineering skillset and commercial outlook to do things differently.” Rick knew that regardless of their career directions, Steve would continue to be an influence on his personal and professional development.

Rick gives out an award to a top Tuthill sales employee.

Coming to Tuthill

In 2015, as the President of Tuthill Springfield, Steve Westfall asked Rick to join Tuthill and lead the sales and business development for their vacuum and blower product lines. The combination of Steve’s leadership and Tuthill’s culture made this a definite “Yes” for Rick. As a member of Steve’s strategic team, Rick expanded his leadership skills, fully embracing Tuthill’s Compass and guiding the team’s journey to become a Top 1% company. Rick utilized Tuthill Business System tools and brought structure and processes to the commercial strategy.

Only two years later, Rick was asked to bring his commercial direction to Tuthill Fort Wayne as the VP of Sales and Marketing, supporting the Fill-Rite and Sotera product families. His role would guide both industrial and retail selling initiatives.

When Rick arrived in Fort Wayne, immediately this career move felt quite different from the others. “I didn’t know anyone here,” Rick said from his office in Fort Wayne. He relocated his family from a place of comfort into the unknown. “We relearned about ourselves and others. Some patterns stayed, while others didn’t.” For his family, it helped reidentify who each of them truly is. “It gave us a chance to really reconnect as a family.” 

Rick serves as a judge during an activity at a sales meeting in April 2019.

In terms of Rick’s work personality, there were patterns he knew he wanted to change. He saw coming to Fort Wayne as an opportunity. “There’s a persona about me, and things I didn’t want to be. I could leave some of those things behind.” He gained respect for strong relationships that go beyond the working tasks. “I wanted to build relationships with people who I do work with daily, and the others I don’t. I wanted to know more than what role a person is in. I wanted to know the person. I wanted to see their aliveness!”

Another lesson Rick learned while at Tuthill was relinquishing power. “Control was only getting me something that was this big,” he gestured with pinched fingers. “There are 82 other people in the building who have a perspective,” he said, referring to Fort Wayne. “And mine’s not the only one that’s right.”

Once he started opening the door to others’ ideas, he saw the magnitude of what could be created. His approach now is to fearlessly imagine the vision of what he would like to create, and then offer it up to the team. “You tell me, what are the pieces to make this vision possible?”

This is a universal lesson Rick learned about building teams, credibility and trust. “People want the same thing. To be heard, valued, and be unique to the rest of the organization.” Now, he focuses on intently listening and absorbing the knowledge his team holds, and trusting them to make decisions.

Rick speaking with a Tuthill distribution rep at a sales meeting in April 2019.

Growing the Business

Rick’s time at Tuthill Fort Wayne has been one of ample opportunity for both products and customers. “I’m inspired by what we can create and how we can position ourselves in the market,” Rick said. He wants to leverage Tuthill’s Fill-Rite product line to solve customer’s problems they don’t realize can be solved today.

The continued goal for him is to “understand our customer and truly serve them where they are, when they need it. How we engage before, during and after a transaction is key. The product and service can invoke an emotion from a user and cause them to build a relationship with Tuthill.”

As e-commerce becomes a primary platform where Tuthill engages with its customers, Tuthill Fort Wayne has been working to improve that experience. “I knew nothing of e-commerce, and I knew little of retail,” Rick admitted of when he came to Fort Wayne. “I thought that ‘retail’ was a bad word— ‘e-commerce’ was worse. We were losing the value-minded customers and the value we bring. It didn’t take me long to change my perspective.”

Rick’s outlook on Tuthill’s digital customer experience has kept Tuthill’s Compass close at heart. He is passionate about creating interactions that provide convenience while maintaining the human element. “There is extreme value in being uncommon. We can blend the convenience of digital with the thoughtfulness of personalized communication and experiences though the tools being launched in coming months. This will set us apart in the marketplace. This will make a difference,” Rick said.

He is also adamant about recognizing the value that channel partners have brought to building the Fill-Rite brand. “It is important to me that we build upon those channel relationships. It may be fruitful for us to help them become better at digital too,” Rick said.

As Rick measured Tuthill’s growth potential through e-commerce marketplaces, he knew a balance was needed between fulfilling the immediacy of online orders and establishing a trusted brand. He guided teams throughout the organization, encouraging curiosity and being open to new possibilities in e-commerce. Rick’s vision and drive for customer satisfaction and dedication to success for all of Tuthill was recognized by Tuthill’s senior leadership team. As internal positions were changing throughout the organization, Rick became a natural fit for the future leadership of Tuthill Fort Wayne.

On August 1, Rick became President of Tuthill Fort Wayne and stepped into the role without hesitation. “This is more than a career opportunity for me. I have so much in front of me today, and I have an amazing team beside me. Fort Wayne is now home. The relationships that I have built and continue to grow within Tuthill and this community will only make me stronger, wiser, and better. I know this team has what it takes, and I feel honored to guide our future.”