Rimel comes to the 90-employee Stockwell Elastomerics after 25 years at Bristol, Pa.-based Dunmore Corp., a supplier of engineered films, foils, fabrics and adhesive products for technical applications.
There, Rimel worked to grow sales revenue in new markets and oversaw manufacturing improvements and acquisitions as business development manager, chief operating officer, plant manager and process engineering manager.
He also has worked for DuPont, International Paper Co. and Adhesives Research Inc.
"Many things drew me to Stockwell," Rimel told Rubber & Plastics News. "The company is focused on leveraging high-performance technical materials to solve customer problems. This customer-centric philosophy permeates and drives the entire organization. There is a great sense of the value and the importance of all the stakeholders here—from vendor partners, to customers, associates, the community and other business partners.
"The company has such a clear idea of who we are—and the members of the company can verbalize it."
Midwest values, engineering mindset
The commute to Stockwell for Rimel, 49, will not be far, as he and his family have lived in suburban Philadelphia in Bucks County for the past 21 years.
Rimel grew up in Frederick, Md., about an hour outside of Baltimore, and he was the first generation of his family to attend college, which he did as a University of Maryland Terrapin and later at La Salle University in Philadelphia.
He majored in chemical engineering for his undergraduate degree, a subject for which he developed a passion, in part, from his father's blue collar work ethic.
"I had a love of chemistry, understanding the building blocks and reactions that make different materials," Rimel said. "And I had an interest in engineering because I wanted to be involved in making stuff."
Rimel's father was a roofer with his own company for 55 years, a family business that saw Rimel's brother join his father in the work.
"I loved the aspect of his job where he used his own materials to make something new," he said. "You could see the value in what you did every day."
Rimel said he also was attracted to the numerous career paths available to someone equipped with an engineering degree—from careers in commercial to research and development, from processing to operations management.
His first job was at International Paper.
"There was so much variety," he said. "As the first generation in our family to attend college, I wanted to make sure there were lots of career options were available."
The University of Maryland and his father gave him the "what" and the "why"—and La Salle supplied him with the "how," obtaining his master's in business administration from the school, about a half-hour from Stockwell Elastomerics. He already was working in the professional world, and took classes around his work schedule.
"I wanted to pursue this to connect the details of the products I was making—the 'how' in solving problems," he said. "Connecting those two things are what creates great businesses and innovation in this world."
Histories provide foundations, ideals
While there are differences in both form and function of the products produced by Dunmore and Stockwell, deep histories form the foundation and identities of each company.
Rimel, who has worked for companies both large and small, was with Dunmore for 25 years, about half the life of the 50-year-old company.
While Dunmore makes continuous roll engineering films and various coated substrates, Stockwell produces items with distinct shapes.
Dunmore has crafted multi-layer insulation that has been used in satellites and other sub-orbital vehicles, and uses polyester in conjunction with polypropylene, polyethylene, fabrics, textiles and non-wovens, Rimel said.
Stockwell tends to work within specialty silicones, forming thicker products as opposed to the thinner—and non-rubber substrate—coatings at Dunmore. And while Dunmore is considered a "higher volume, lower mix" business, Stockwell has smaller runs with more markets and more than 1,000 customers.
"Both companies exhibit the technical materials expertise to solve customer needs and maintain a strong customer focus," Rimel said. "Both are smaller businesses, but with strong business systems that can match larger organizations in product development, application focus and quality management. Both have a dedicated, expert work force and an enduring philosophy in investing in the business."
And Rimel said he does not intend to change that "enduring philosophy" at Stockwell, having adopted his leadership traits from mentors both personal and professional.
"The mission at Stockwell will not change," Rimel said. "Stockwell will continue to be the material expert in our chosen fields, we will continue to make sure our business is a good partner with all stakeholders, we will know our strengths and continue to develop them and we will continue to attract and develop the best people."
Rimel describes himself as a "servant leader," one who leads by example.
"I believe I am good at focusing a team and keeping the spotlight on the longer term," Rimel said. "In my core, I am process and operationally focused and willing to jump in where I can increase efficiency."
He cited his father's philosophy of "work hard and be the best at what you do—whatever it is" and that "80 percent of life is effort and attitude—so bring a positive one."
He also credited Matt Sullivan, the longtime manager and CEO at Dunmore, for instilling in him the notion of "progress, not perfection," and the development of trust within any team-oriented atmosphere.
"He taught me to take a chance on people, to give them a chance to succeed," Rimel said. "Sometimes they may fail, but that's where learning takes place."
He also offered praise to his former Steel Partners private equity team—Gordon Walker and Warren Lichtenstein, in particular—for teaching him the importance of continuous improvement and strategic planning.
"We will focus on growing our business here at Stockwell, advancing the continuous improvement philosophy that already is in place, and we will continue to develop new products to solve customer problems," Rimel said. "We at Stockwell are proudly an employee-owned (ESOP) company, and I will focus to ensure that we continue to develop that sense of pride of ownership to serve our customer even better than we do today."