Shane Faucheux, President of Rio Controls & Hydraulics, talks about injecting technology into the marine industry and some of their innovative products.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is where you can go see the entire thing in beautiful high definition video. Get your calls in, 844 814 8144 is our 24-hour call-in line.
We’re going to talk a little bit about some industrial … talk to an industrial company, a marine company, out of Houston. Shane Faucheux is the President of Rio Controls and Hydraulics, that has a company that does a little bit of everything. They do everything from engineering to software, to hard manufacturing, to …
Jay Curry: Software company, everything.
Matt Register: Yeah, hydraulic repair, a whole lot of everything. I’m your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry’s the one sitting over there in the co-host chair, what do you think?
Jay Curry: This is an interesting story. With all the people we interview, we see a lot of openings and ways and reasons people get into the business, how they succeed in the business and then explode it, and Shane’s story is really kind of unique. One I hadn’t though of before, but it’s … certainly see how he’s been so successful at it.
Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about that. Shane Faucheux, President, Rio Controls and Hydraulics. Shane, welcome to the show.
Shane Faucheux: Thank you.
Matt Register: Tell me about Rio Controls and Hydraulics. What do you do, and what do you do it for?
Shane Faucheux: So, we basically got into business to solve a problem.
Matt Register: Okay.
Shane Faucheux: To provide the industry with a solution. Good products for steering, automation, alarms, controls, switchboards, and hydraulic service, as well as repair and manufacturing.
Matt Register: Now, purely for the marine industry, correct?
Shane Faucheux: It is purely for the marine industry, yeah. Mainly the inland waterways industry. We also do some offshore work, too.
Matt Register: Okay, interesting.
Shane Faucheux: We wanted to match those products with a 24-7 service company, which is our parent company.
Matt Register: Now, historically, the marine industry is not on the cutting edge of technology with a lot of this stuff, correct?
Shane Faucheux: That’s correct. They’re far behind most technology you see nowadays, so what we did was we brought that cutting edge technology to the industry with our systems.
Jay Curry: That was really the advantage, that your whole deal was bringing new technology into an industry that just can’t seem to move forward.
Shane Faucheux: Absolutely. New technology is, it’s less in downtime, it’s help the customers understand the systems better. They’re allowed to do a lot of their own service work onboard, through these high technology systems.
Matt Register: Well, we were talking during the break, and you showed me a couple of pictures of some of the products that, in the past, caused major downtime, they failed quite regularly, and have, you know, re-engineered them to take care advantage of some of the technologies that are commercially available out there now, and have essentially turned that into a piece of equipment that’s a non-event for the customer, correct?
Shane Faucheux: That’s exactly right. Like I said, it lessens their downtime significantly with these products, because they’re much more durable.
Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about that. Now, how long have you guys been open, because this is a relatively new company?
Shane Faucheux: We’ve been open for four and a half years.
Matt Register: Okay, so four and a half years. As an entrepreneur, it was a fascinating story you were telling me during the break, about how you started this company, because you started the company a little different than a lot of people start businesses, right? This is a … not a wholly owned, but a partially owned by a parent company. Walk me through your decision to start this business.
Shane Faucheux: So, they presented me with a challenge. They wanted to provide their customers with a better product, that they could service. They had the service side down pat.
Matt Register: They, being your parent company?
Shane Faucheux: The parent company.
Matt Register: Which is Rio Marine.
Shane Faucheux: Yes, sir, Rio Marine.
Matt Register: Got you.
Shane Faucheux: So we came on board and we were intent on making sure that the product we provided was durable, had the technology that this industry hasn’t seen before. We spent the first nine months designing, developing, testing, and coming up with the right product. Since then, the last three and a half years, we’ve delivered over 250 systems to 22 different customers.
Matt Register: Now, that’s interesting. One of the interesting things about that is that it comes with a built in customer base, right. I mean, because you have a parent company, they helped you get started in your business because they needed the actual product to help install, right?
Shane Faucheux: That’s correct. The first year, I would travel around with the owner of Rio Marine, around the Gulf Coast, with our little demo units, and he’d get us into the front door, then I would explain to them what this technology … why it was better than the existing technology, and it really helped us sell a lot of systems, quickly.
Jay Curry: So, now, you’re in a position now to get outside of that and really explode. I mean, it’s wonderful to have that. It gets you set up, it provides security and stability, but once you’ve got the product and you’ve proven that it’s above what’s out there, you can now take it anywhere.
Shane Faucheux: That’s correct. We started on the Gulf Coast and a foundation of customers, which we’re very appreciative of, and now we’re actually moving up to the East Coast now, and selling to some new customers up there. We’re just ready to expand further, now.
Matt Register: Now, it makes a lot of sense. Now, your company, if you walked in the door of your company, you are part software company-
Shane Faucheux: Yes, sir.
Matt Register: … part engineering company, part machine shop, part hydraulics shop, part assembly shop-
Jay Curry: Manufacture, distribution.
Matt Register: … you do a lot of different things. It gives you a lot of capabilities. Is your plan to continue to utilize your engineering department or software department as some R and D, to be able to solve additional problems for customers?
Shane Faucheux: R and D is a big part of what we do. We want to always remain on the cutting end of technology. The engineering group actually do not like it when I walk into the office, because I go to the whiteboard and say, “Hey, how about this guys?”
Matt Register: “I had an idea last night,” right?
Shane Faucheux: [inaudible 00:05:43], and they’ll roll their eyes and go, “Here we go again.”
Matt Register: Our producer, Daniel, behind the camera over there, hates it when I come in on Monday morning, going, “I’ve been thinking … ”
Shane Faucheux: That’s it.
Jay Curry: Uh-oh.
Shane Faucheux: That’s it.
Jay Curry: And, really, you were telling us a story before we came on, and showing us some of the products, but this is a very old industry. I mean, they have electronics in parts that are all around water, right. You’re talking marine here, and you … this didn’t have to be rocket science, but you had to bring some rocket science in to solve it, right?
Shane Faucheux: That’s correct. Utilizing parts around water that fail when water touches it-
Jay Curry: Well, duh.
Shane Faucheux: … it just doesn’t make sense, so …
Jay Curry: Yeah.
Matt Register: What could go wrong, right?
Shane Faucheux: Right. What could possibly go wrong?
Jay Curry: And nobody ever thought, well, maybe we didn’t have to use electronic connectors and … ?
Shane Faucheux: That’s exactly it. When you introduce, hey, this can go into water and it’ll still work, everybody’s eyes light up and say, “Oh, why didn’t that happen before?”
Jay Curry: That has to be huge for your part-owner company that helped you, because they’re a maintenance company, and now maintenance is a lot easier.
Shane Faucheux: Yes, it is. It’s a lot easier.
Jay Curry: So they can service a lot more customers, cheaper.
Shane Faucheux: That’s correct, yes. It’s been wonderful for them.
Jay Curry: Yeah.
Matt Register: I tell you, you were making me laugh during the break, when you were talking about having to build in some things for … You have people in the industry that have been … You have an industry that is an aging industry, right, so a lot of the guys in the industry have been in it for a long time.
Shane Faucheux: Absolutely.
Matt Register: And they’re changing now, from a mechanical-based system to a electronic-based system-
Shane Faucheux: That’s it.
Matt Register: … and you’re having to build into your products some things to mimic some of the sounds and some of the effects of the mechanical system. Tell me a little bit about that, because it’s hilarious.
Shane Faucheux: Yeah, so, for the steering levers, they’re electrical now, but to make them feel mechanical, we actually installed friction blocks and they can tighten them up to make it feel like a mechanical system, as tight as they want it, to where they can barely move it. It makes them feel like it’s the old mechanical system, but it’s not, it’s electrical. They can actually move it with their finger if they wanted.
Matt Register: That’s hilarious, and sound effects on the computer and things like that.
Jay Curry: Sound effects [crosstalk 00:07:42].
Shane Faucheux: Stuff like, we’ve replaced propulsion controls that are air-based controls, when we replace them with electric, we can add a sound wave file, just that goes … So they, “Okay, I’m in gear. That’s great.”
Matt Register: That’s awesome. What is the easiest way for somebody to learn more, if they want to learn more?
Shane Faucheux: Our website, www.realmarineinc.com.
Matt Register: Realmarineinc.com and, guys, we’re going to have that linked directly from texasbusinessradio.com, if you’re driving and can’t take notes. Riomarineinc.com. Shane Faucheux, President of Rio Controls and Hydraulics. Fascinating story. I want to thank you very much for joining us, Shane.
Shane Faucheux: Thank you for having me.
Jay Curry: Yeah, interesting. Congratulations.
Shane Faucheux: Thank you very much.
Matt Register: Yeah, absolutely, but we’re out of time. We got to go to a quick break. We’re going to be back with a whole more Texas Business Radio, right after this. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.