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RTI’s New CEO: ‘It’s a Great Company, and It’s Missing Its Founder’

In its 25-year history RTI had only known one CEO, until appointing W. Ed McConaghay to the role earlier this month. McConaghay fills the vacancy left after the sudden passing of founder John Demskie, who died last fall.

In its 25-year history RTI had only known one chief executive officer, until appointing W. Edward (Ed) McConaghay to the role earlier this month. McConaghay fills the vacancy left after the sudden passing of RTI founder John Demskie, who died at the age of 48 last fall. It’s a role that he said he’s prepared to handle. 

Ed McConaghay“I was really pleased to be asked to join the RTI team. It is a great company with a heck of a legacy, and it’s missing its founder,” he said in an interview with Residential Systems. “I’ve been a CEO for technology companies going through transitions for a couple of decades, so the opportunity to step in and be a part of this team and provide a little leadership was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed. This is an exciting time in the home controls/remote controls business.”

McConaghay has been an interim CEO and strategic advisor for technology companies through his consulting practice Key Indicators Inc. for more than 22 years. In that role, he supported businesses ranging from startups to middle-market companies, providing leadership and direction for business transitions, planning and implementing growth strategies, and developing technology products.

Among his executive leadership positions, he was the interim CEO for WELLBEATS; co-founder of PhotoBook Press; CEO and director of XL Technology Systems; CEO and director of ViA; CEO and director of Telident; CEO and director of Digital Technics; and senior VP of sales and marketing of Deluxe Corp. He also served as senior executive at Nortel for 10 years, most recently as vice president of marketing for the Asia Pacific region. McConaghay is a U.S. Military Academy graduate and served as a communications officer in the U.S. Army. He holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering from West Point and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

“Ed possesses the strategic vision, deep operational knowledge, and experience as a hands-on business executive,” said Mike Everett, VP of sales and marketing, Americas, RTI. “His proven track record of leadership for technology-driven companies both domestically and internationally, coupled with a strong engineering background makes him a natural fit for the RTI family. We are excited to have him on board.”

McConaghay said that his initial impressions of his new company are that it’s a “really great business” with “good, smart, competent, and technically capable people.” He said that products and dealer and distribution network are “rock solid.” 

“When I first looked at the business, there wasn’t anything obviously wrong,” McConaghay noted. “A lot of my other companies have been going through transitions that are much more difficult for a variety of reasons. This one doesn’t have a lot that’s broken, and everything is good. That was pretty exciting, joining an established team with great products and a good reputation.” 

That said, as McConaghay talked with Everett and other members of the management team and colleagues, they all had aspirations for improvements that could be made. “We can always do more for our dealers and distribution network,” he offered. “We can always do more with the technology to make it more advanced and easier to install and use. We can also do more to help our customers—whether they’re the dealers or end users—understand the technology in ways that make sense for them. As we talk about the business, it’s ‘How do we improve along the edges in meaningful ways that make the lives of our end-user, dealer, and distributor customers easier?’”

Commenting on replacing the only CEO in company history, McConaghay said that the loss of the founder of the company, “from a personal point of view is clearly non-trivial, but also from an organizational point of view, it’s a meaningful disruption” to the company. 

“Companies go through emotional trauma when something like this happens, as much as families do,” he said. “I think Mike [Everett], [CTO] Kevin [Marty], and [director of operations] Dave [Brooks] have done a fabulous job of continuing John’s legacy of keeping the business going and keeping our dealers and distributors confident in our ability to take care of them. But I still have a leadership role to help make sure we keep our eye the future and keep our eye on solving the day-to-day business issues that exist. I think one of my first goals will be to get out and meet our dealers and distributors and give them the confidence that the company continues to be in stable hands with a vision for the future. I’m quite excited to make the trip to Amsterdam next for ISE to meet our international partners.”