Get to Know IMEC’s Board of Directors: Caitlin Simhauser

Posted by Jordyn Shawhan on May 11, 2023 11:52:48 AM


Meet Caitlin Simhauser, the President and Managing Owner of Ronk Electrical Industries and one of IMEC’s newest Board members. In a recent virtual interview, Simhauser shared insights about herself and her company, which has been manufacturing electrical products and equipment since 1950.

Ronk Electrical Industries is located in Nokomis, IL and serves a unique niche within the Electrical Equipment Manufacturing industry, manufacturing certain products like transfer switches, meter-socket circuit breakers, generator docking stations, and phase converting products. Ronk is also able to customize quickly and bring their tweaked products to market faster.

Wholesale to Manufacturing

In 2018, Simhauser took a natural step into the manufacturing industry as she had a long career beforehand at Springfield Electric Supply Company. She was able to take her sales and marketing experience from the wholesale distribution side of the industry to manufacturing, which Simhauser said was an exciting change for her. At Ronk, she could “affect more change in a positive way and tell the story of the products and the people that make it.”

When asked to elaborate, Simhauser continued, “We're actually making things, which is exciting to me personally. To be part of an organization that creates products to serve a need for other people or businesses is rewarding. What’s fun on the manufacturing side is seeing the whole process from uncovering customer needs in the market, developing product designs, putting the design into production, and launching the product to market. Knowing why we make our product, how we make it, and how it can positively impact our customers is a story worth sharing.”

As Springfield Electric Supply Company sold products from many different manufacturers, Simhauser’s role was to help market all of the different product groups and solutions Springfield Electric sold. Now, Simhauser could home in on one story to tell and become much more involved in that story herself.

In 2021, after serving as Ronk’s Marketing Director, Simhauser took another new step into an ownership position, and moved from marketing to strategy with her hands in production, sales, financing, and of course, marketing.

Weather and Adapt

Ronk Electrical’s customers vary from industrial complexes and municipalities to shopping strip malls and homeowners, with sales usually flowing through wholesale distributors. An indirect sales channel does not mean Ronk’s finger isn’t on the pulse of their customers, though! The company’s president ensures the on-the-ground Rep Agency sales teams are involved through ongoing trainings and sales meetings. “[We] meet with them on a regular basis,” Simhauser said, “to [hear their] views about what they're hearing in the marketplace, what they're seeing, and what opportunities lay ahead.”

The inside sales team at Ronk Electrical also has an impressive amount of industry knowledge. The team all have technical backgrounds and vast knowledge of electrical products and systems, which is important because “to best serve the customer, we want to understand where Ronk’s product is going, what the customer’s power requirements are, and what it's running; especially as it relates to our phase converter products,” as Simhauser explained.CaitlinBOD

That is where the company’s inside sales team comes in. “They help prescribe the right product for our customer’s by understanding how the product will be used in the required application or worksite,” Simhauser elaborated. “This helps to avoid returns or oversized electrical products.”

Listening to their customers for product feedback also helps Ronk make their customers’ lives easier. For example, electrical utility companies across the nation have different requirements for the markets they serve. Utilities follow or adopt different codes and standards. Some regions have strong preferences on what should be used in their market. For instance, in the Gulf Coast area, utilities prefer stainless steel material as it tolerates their unique weather conditions due to the prominence of salt water and hurricanes. Ronk offers specific switch products that meet the strenuous and unique requirements of the Gulf coast area. They have recently made revisions to a standard product to meet that area’s criteria.

Ronk Electrical was able to customize their products just for that region and now offers the same products as an option for any other customer across the nation.

Working in Illinois

There are several reasons Simhauser likes working in Illinois, one of which is the rich history of manufacturing knowledge available within the state. "Illinois is ranked #4 in the U.S. for manufacturing jobs.” She explained that Illinois citizens are able to live great lives at a more affordable cost than other states and that Illinois manufacturers have an opportunity right now to “stay here and cultivate what we already know.”

Simhauser summarized her number one reason for manufacturing in Illinois in this statement: “There's a lot of expertise already here in Illinois, in manufacturing, and a potential workforce ready to jump in; we just need to continue to cultivate interest for it, especially with the future generation.”

The other reason is because Illinois is where her family is. Springfield Electric Supply Company was a family business prior to selling, and it was a family decision to acquire Ronk Electrical. You could say electricity charges through her family’s veins!

Joining the Board

IMEC and Ronk Electrical have worked together for years, and Simhauser credited some of her company’s success to IMEC’s help. So when she had the opportunity to join the Board and help other manufacturers in Illinois, she immediately jumped on-board!

Giving back is something Simhauser is passionate about, whether to her employees, her customers, or to other manufacturers. She resonated with the mission of IMEC to serve small and mid-sized manufacturers. “For us all to strive to be healthy, thriving organizations, we can ultimately serve all stakeholders; the communities our products and services go into, the customers we sell to, and the employees and partners we work among.. . . . Shouldn’t we inherently want to make things better?”

In conclusion, Simhauser’s electrifying career has taken her from sales and marketing in wholesale distribution to an ownership position at Ronk Electrical Industries. Her expertise and passion for the industry have led her to join IMEC’s Board, where she hopes to help every small and mid-sized manufacturer in Illinois achieve lasting success.

Learn more about IMEC's Board of Directors.

Jordyn Shawhan

Written by Jordyn Shawhan

Topics: illinois manufacturing, manufacturers, board of directors, Leadership, IMEC Illinois

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