New Gen 3 hire has perfect timing

By Ilene Schneider

Grant Rawlins joined R&B Wire Products in Santa Ana, Calif., on Aug. 11, 2016—exactly 50 years after his grandfather, Rea Rawlins, purchased the laundry cart company, and 42 years after his father, Rick, joined R&B.

"Grant's timing was actually a coincidence, although in many ways it was truly symbolic," says CEO Rick Rawlins. Grant graduated from Pepperdine University in April with a degree in integrated marketing communication; he's now R&B's sales and marketing coordinator. "His timing was perfect, because we had been looking for a new member of our team with an education in 'modern' marketing," his father says.

Rick says that he and Grant will learn from each other. "As we started working together, Grant and I have found we have a special dynamic," Rick says. "Grant can obviously learn from my years of experience here. I plan on mentoring Grant, but I have a lot to learn from his expertise with the latest in marketing, branding and social media."

Grant says his focus on teamwork comes from his college water polo coaches, six-time Olympian Terry Schroeder and current Olympic goalie Merrill Moses. "During my collegiate water polo career, I was able to recognize and see first-hand the power of a team," Grant says. "Knowing that you're all striving for the same goal keeps everyone focused, accountable and competitive. This helps people to reach their full potential. In the future, I'm looking forward to fostering camaraderie within the R&B team."

Grant gained hands-on exposure to the company by working in R&B's warehouse in high school and some vacations during college. "Through the years, I've been able to go to some of our biggest trade shows, which has allowed me to gain an understanding for the industry as a whole," he says.

Rea Rawlins bought R&B Wire Products from Ray Robinson, who developed the laundry cart for use in the then-new concept of a laundromat. The company focused on that market and later diversified its product line as times and needs changed.

At first, when Rick Rawlins joined his father's business, the company made only a few kinds of wire laundry carts. Since then, it has branched out into wire, soft vinyl and hard plastic carts. These products serve the coin laundry, healthcare, hospitality, janitorial supply, material handling and car wash sectors, plus several other industries. When the energy crisis hit America in the '70s, R&B designed and built motor scooter baskets for commuters.

"Like many other industries, ours has been transformed by the Internet," Rick says. "It has helped us to support our distributor network more efficiently. Additionally, the Internet has introduced our wire laundry carts to consumers looking for a commercial-quality laundry cart for home use. R&B Wire laundry carts have been featured in dozens of movies, television shows and magazines, including Martha Stewart Living."

R&B Wire's products are found in laundromats nationwide. "I am thrilled with the continued success that our team has had," Rick says. "I am so happy Grant wanted to be a big part of it, especially as the third generation. During our childhoods, each of us loved to come to R&B Wire with our dads and spend time in the warehouse. We each thought of it as a playground where we could come and build things with our dads. That turned into real-life training in working with equipment, as well as the creative process of building quality products."

"During college, I would often call my dad after my marketing classes and tell him my ideas for the company," Grant says. "I was able to see where our company's marketing needed to improve. My dad was excited about what I was learning and the applications that would be beneficial to the company. This was a major factor in solidifying my decision to work at R&B Wire Products."

Grant's short-term goal is "getting educated on every aspect of the company in as much detail as possible." His long-term goal is "to continue to solidify R&B's position as the industry leader." He adds, "I believe this can only be done by creating an innovative environment where employees feel valued, enjoy coming to work and are constantly challenged to grow personally and professionally."

Ilene Schneider is a freelance writer based in Irvine, Calif.

Copyright 2017 by Family Business Magazine. This article may not be posted online or reproduced in any form, including photocopy, without permission from the publisher. For reprint information, contact bwenger@familybusinessmagazine.com.

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March/April 2017

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