Shakopee, Minn. — Edward (Ed) McConaghay is something of a turnaround specialist, but in his new role as CEO of Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI), a leading provider of remote controls and home automation systems, he steps into a business that is already doing pretty darn well.
“So many companies he gets involved with are in distress, particularly financial trauma,” says Mike Everett, VP sales and marketing for RTI and sister company Pro Control. “When he was investigating the position, he took a look under the kimono and saw that this company is strong and healthy. It has a lot of great people. The trauma isn’t financial at all. It’s emotional.”
RTI is still reeling from the sudden death of its founder and CEO John Demskie last year.
“He was family,” Everett says.
In an interview with CE Pro, McConaghay says he’s run into “no big surprises so far. This is a great company. There’s not a lot broken so there isn’t a whole lot to ‘fix’ in terms of a major transition.”
With a Harvard MBA under his belt, McConaghay is a strong businessman, having worked for and consulted with a broad range of mostly-underperforming companies.
But he’s also a tech guy.
“I am a technologist, trained as an engineer,” says the West Point undergrad who earned a B.S. in engineering and went on to specialize in telecommunications.
“In the last many decades, I’ve worked with hardware, software, client-based products and services, cloud-based systems …,” he says. “I’ve lived through the transition from circuit-switch voice systems to VoIP and IP-based systems.”
Not Just a Techie
But while McConaghay says, “I love the technology,” he also counts himself as a finance and operations guy, as well as people person.
He refers to himself as an “operating CEO that has managed R&D programs across a variety of technologies,” as well as a “marketing, sales and customer-service guy” who “understands relationships.”
New RTI CEO
on dealers and distributors
On top of that, he’s a “financial guy. I count the beans.”
RTI could certainly benefit from a leader like that. As beloved as he was, Demskie was more of a visionary and technology developer than a schmoozer or money man.
“John will be missed,” Everett says, “but since we are where we are, based on new realities, we are in a really good position to do things we haven’t done before. We have a fresh mind with different experiences” that can inform the future of RTI.
On the job for just two weeks, McConaghay has already impressed the team with “how quick he’s ready to take actions,” according to Everett. “And we like that he’s relying on the team to have input on how to best execute. I think Ed will make a big difference.”
Where does McConaghay see room for improvement? Relationships and partner services.
“It’s important for the future,” he says. “RTI has great people, but maybe could use a few more to deliver the kinds of service that distributors and partners require.”
He was impressed from day one with RTI’s “nice relationship with global dealer networks,” but also notes “there’s always more that we can do to make their lives easier, better and more efficient.”
At ISE 2017 in Amsterdam next week, McConaghay wants nothing more than to meet as many partners as possible.
“My mission at ISE,” he says, “is to meet our international distributors and hear their needs, desires and wants, and to reassure them that this company is in very solid shape, that we’ve got a plan but that it’s not completely flushed out.”
So we had to ask: What about Apex?
RTI introduced the next-gen platform all the way back in 2012, and has consistently released updates for the software that is yet to deploy five years later.
“In the two weeks I’ve been here,” McConaghay says, “we’ve probably talked about Apex … maybe every day.”
The latest iteration, he says, is in “wide beta release,” and the company is “getting great insights and feedback.”
Will we see it in 2017?
“Yes, you will see it this year,” McConaghay says, “and you won’t have to wait until the end of the year.”