Vice-President of Operations
When Russ Reineck began his career at General Motors as a Tool and Process Engineer, he couldn’t have predicted he would end up leading a team of experts who develop best practices for large, process-oriented facilities like GM. Nevertheless, even then he already had a commitment to the procedural excellence that underpins well-performing organizations. Today, as PCA’s VP of Operations, Russ plays a strategic role, managing the PCA consultants who develop and implement PCA’s best practices playbooks for clients.
Yet, he says, “Even as VP I have continued to consult. If a consultant goes into management, he or she has to keep their feet in the water.” Russ’s position also gives him plenty of hands-on time. “Basically, I get to go into different businesses and situations and help people improve them or get out of trouble. I do project reviews, develop or finalize any outlier solutions and close the engagement out.”
Although Russ says managing consultants is “akin to herding cats,” it’s clear that he loves his work and appreciates and respects his team. “We have a great group of consultants with experience in a lot of areas, so there’s not a lot of teaching and coaching needed on my part.”
A Long Relationship Bears Fruit
Russ has been working with PCA since 2003, when company President and CEO Dick DeFazio called to offer him a job as a PCA consultant. He’d known Dick for 20 years at that time, having worked at another consulting firm doing organizational design work. “Our clients frequently needed maintenance-related help, so I would refer them to Dick. We kept referring business back and forth to each other and our relationship grew from there.”
The timing was perfect for Russ, whose entire department had just become a casualty of the economic downturn that followed 9/11. Russ thrived in the position, becoming a senior consultant before taking the helm as VP of Operations in 2011.
From Underachieving to Outperforming
Russ sees a parallel between the opportunity he seized after his layoff and those that PCA helps its clients leverage today. “We went through the great recession and a lot of firms shut down underperforming plants or assets. Now, markets are back, and production operations are at capacity. Facility managers are talking about opening those old facilities, but upper management is resistant. It’s like a constant, ongoing episode of MASH.”
“In most of these scenarios, the board and management want facility managers to keep existing plants up 24/7,” Russ continues. “They don’t want to supplement poor-performing assets with other poor- performing assets. That’s where PCA comes in. We help them develop solutions and approaches that will enable their existing equipment to run better.”
PCA Projects Yield Big Benefits
When asked to cite a favorite turnaround success story, Russ offers two.
- Building Products: When a firm that was having maintenance issues contacted PCA for assistance, PCA blew their expectations away. “We told them, ‘The immediate work we can do will provide relief and yield enough savings to pay for our work effort.’ In three months, we had generated enough annualized savings to pay our fees nearly five times over.”
- Transportation: A railroad company wanted PCA to set up and configure its CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) for facilities maintenance. “We agreed but told them we also wanted to perform our best practices modeling, then do a proof of concept and audit on a pilot area, putting descriptions in the CMMS,” Russ says.
“As part of the effort, we did an asset inventory of the buildings in the pilot area, comparing their records to the physical layout. Out of 420 buildings in the records, we found several that had been demolished but the firm was still paying taxes on them. We also found existing, standing buildings that the client didn’t even know they had.”
When asked to define success, Russ returns to his manufacturing roots, offering some wisdom not only regarding PCA but also for manufacturing as a whole.
“Success for us is when we leave and the client can do it on their own. It’s been my honor to see that happen time and time again.” For manufacturing as an industry, he says. “I truly believe that manufacturing is a key component of America’s economy. It gives Americans a sense of pride and place.”
“When we began losing it, it signaled the gutting of middle-class America, but I believe it’s starting to come back. The success story of manufacturing is still being written.”