CEO, Rexarc International, Inc.

Rob Moyer

Rob Moyer’s great-grandfather started Rexarc International in West Alexandria, Ohio 84 years ago. The company makes acetylene gas generation equipment for welding applications and moves in more than 40 markets globally. Rob says the founder revolutionized the category, then his great-uncle revolutionized it again. Rob intends to be the third member of the family to make that kind of sweeping change.

He was 19 years old when he started with the company in 2002, at what you might call the ground level—sweeping floors. He quickly worked his way up, his grandfather mentoring him first in the shop, then in the office, where he learned about financial statements and the like.

 

He remembers his grandfather asking him one day if he had a business card with him. He looked at it and told Rob that he apparently hadn’t taken a close look at his card lately, and suggested he look in his desk. There, Rob found a new box of cards, with the title “President” under his name.

The Problem

 

“That’s how I became president. That had been my goal, but no one had asked me what I would do once I became president. What I had in mind was to grow. But I hadn’t been asked the right questions to clarify what I wanted that growth to look like. I didn’t know how to do it myself, so I started asking questions—as many as I could, to whomever I could.”

The Solution

 

Rob came to Aileron through a friend’s recommendation. He shared his vision with Bill Matthews, who responded with a series of questions that struck Rob as the very questions he needed to hear. It was Bill’s suggestion to bring on a board of directors. He took an Aileron class on the subject, realized how an outside board could help him achieve his goals, and never looked back. Not even when it was recommended that he turn over the business to a president so he could get his bachelor’s degree.

 

Rob Moyer’s goal has been to take his family business from a $3.5 million-a-year enterprise to $100 million. His board of directors was all for it. But they suggested he first hire a president to run the company while he worked on his bachelor’s degree.

 

“It was like, ‘Wow!’” Rob says.

 

“The way I put it to my management team is that the board—my Aileron trial board—sort of fired me, so to speak, so that I could achieve these other goals. They let me know that, to get where I wanted to be, I needed to step aside right away. So, now I’m getting paid to go to school full time. I’m living out my dream at Ohio State University.”

 

“The idea of another president was a little scary at first,” Rob says. “I’d walked away from a track and field scholarship at the University of Cincinnati to pursue my work at Rexarc, so people knew I was serious. And I’d achieved my goal of becoming president in about half the amount of time that I had expected it to take.”

 

“Now all of a sudden, I had a board telling me I needed to step aside because if I really wanted to accelerate the growth of the company, I had to get my education then and there. I couldn’t put it off. So yeah, it was scary. But at the same time, I knew it made sense.”

 

Aileron acted as his trial board for nine months, convening one session every three months. Rob was loaded down with questions at every session. His assignment: to find answers. He says he learned much more than he would have had the answers been handed to him.

 

“My philosophy is to become more so you can do more, so you can have more, so you can give more,” Rob says.

 

“I had very big giving goals. In order to realize those goals, I knew I’d have to seek help from others. Aileron came on board at just the right time for me to begin working toward my goals.”

Since I established our board of directors, we’ve gone from losing money to breaking even to making money—to the tune of a 600-percent swing from the down to the up.

The Results

 

As of December 2009, Rob was in his third year at Ohio State. With Aileron’s help, he is confident he will reach his goals. He says that’s because he can now see the steps he’ll need to take to get there.

 

“The struggle for me was that I didn’t have those steps laid out. Now I do. I’m getting daily and weekly metrics. I’m holding quarterly board meetings. And I have great people behind me, including the people at Aileron.”

 

“I’ve always had this idea that there’s this elusive group of top-notch professionals out there who seem to run in the same circle. It’s a tight circle, and it’s way up there—and it seems unattainable. What I think I’ve found is that the gateway to that circle is Aileron.”

 

For Rob, the big takeaway from the Aileron experience is how important it is to have a vision—one you can believe in and develop. If those pieces are in place, you’ll be open to any advice you might get that can carry you closer to your goal. He describes the tone at Aileron in these terms: “Hey, we’ve done it before—you can do it, too.”

 

Rob is often called on to share his story, to talk about what he’s learned along the way, and how he’s grown the family business.

 

“I always include Aileron because it’s such a significant part,” he says.

 

“It’s allowed me to take my company from paying for growth to getting paid for growth. Since I established our board of directors, we’ve gone from losing money to breaking even to making money—to the tune of a 600-percent swing from the down to the up. There is no stronger testament to the power of an outside board of directors, certainly in our case, than the revenue that has been generated for the company and the company’s shareholders.”

 

He talks about how the company used to operate from a looking-back perspective. Once his board was in place, the perspective shifted. The question became, “What are we going to do this month?” More recently, another shift has taken place. Through the Aileron strategic planning course, the company is making plans for the next 12 months.

 

It’s made Rob think about his own future, far into the future, when it will be his turn to hand over the company reins. At the time of this writing, he was the only family member actively engaged in Rexarc.

 

“I don’t think it will be hard for me to step aside when the time comes,” Rob says.

 

“That’s why I have a specific long-term goal, one that will allow me to give up those reins. I figure if I take the company from $3.5 million to $100 million, that’s a good run. That will be enough for me to do the kind of giving that I want to do.”

 

“At the same time, I’ll be ready to pass the company on to someone else and let them have the opportunity. There are a number of exit strategies, and we’ll explore those when we see that time coming.”

 

“But that’s down the road. Hey, I’m only 26!”

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