Randy Brodzik ‘85 believes in order to be a successful company or person, you must see value in everyone around you. That’s something he stands behind as president and CEO of RedViking, an engineering, design and systems integration firm in Plymouth, Michigan.
Last year, RedViking was recognized as a “Cool Place to Work in Michigan” by Crain’s Business for the second year in a row.
“If it’s good for the customer, if it’s good for the company, and it’s good for the team, then it’s the right thing to do,” Brodzik said. “As president there’s a lot of things we’ve tried to do over that past five to 10 years. One of those things is giving back to the employees. Everyone has a choice if they want to work here or not. I want them to be here because they want to be here and because they are excited about what we do.”
Valuing the employee was something passed down from RedViking’s co-founder and Brodzik’s mentor Dave Emmett ‘67. Emmett, who passed away in 2007, truly valued each and every employee, Brodzik said.
“I am following his example. What I love is helping people to grow stronger mentally and physically. I want to see them be more productive here at work and outside of the workplace,” Brodzik said. “What’s refreshing is when someone comes in from the outside and is amazed by how we treat our employees.”
At RedViking they offer wellness classes, such as yoga and Zumba, as well as running and biking clubs. They host internal competitions like foosball, euchre and ping pong and plan company social events, on top of 401K matching and tuition reimbursement. Brodzik said they also give as much autonomy to the employees as possible, allowing everyone to have a voice in what’s best for the company.
Brodzik has been with RedViking for 28 years. He started his career at General Motors Hydra-Matic Division, where he did his co-op while at Kettering. During his time at GM, he moved around often and experienced many different parts of the organization. The one he connected with the most was the Controls Engineering department.
“I loved the programming aspect of it. I loved the ability to visualize how you wanted a machine to act, to write the code and to implement that and then see the result of all of that,” Brodzik said.
While at GM, Brodzik’s advisor Doug Brant partnered with Emmett to start the controls engineering and integration firm, Superior Controls. Brodzik spent his vacations and free time there until he joined their team as the third engineer in 1990. Growing beyond only electrical and controls and moving into mechanical and software engineering, Superior Controls soon became RedViking.
Brodzik became president and CEO of RedViking in 2011.
“RedViking is an engineering company that focuses on new technology applications and things that people have never done before. That’s one thing that excites our workforce,” he said. “When we branched out to RedViking, we wanted a name that didn’t define what we could do in the future. We considered ourselves the explorer of activities. Red is a power name and Viking is an explorer.”
At RedViking, Brodzik works to create a collaborative environment. Leading up to his years in the industry, he took a lot away from his time at Kettering. For the past 20 years, RedViking has brought in Kettering co-op students to give them that same real work experience he received.
Brodzik’s path to Kettering was an untraditional one. He wasn’t ready to go to college right out of high school so he spent a summer working in a plant. Once he realized that wasn’t what he wanted to do long term, Kettering became his goal. He went to school part time while he was working and transferred in to Kettering a few years later to study Electrical Engineering.
“The education you get at Kettering is second to none. One of the strongest things you can get out of your education there is organizational skills. You learn how to deal with pressure. That’s something I don’t think you get anywhere else,” he said. “And then there’s the work experience to take what you’ve learned and be able to apply that. That real work experience is invaluable.”
There are many other life lessons that Brodzik learned while during his time at Kettering and throughout his career. One point of advice to students was to live in the moment and enjoy the journey.
“Don’t think too far down the road with lofty goals and ambitions. Know where you want to go, but give yourself time to learn, grow and experience life. There is much to be gained through the experiences presented to you,” Brodzik said. “Treat everyone with respect and dignity. It is only by helping those around us to grow and contribute can we accomplish great things.
“Don’t be afraid of a challenge, you have to get outside of your comfort zone in order to grow yourself. Remember, it is the journey and the experiences along the way that are what makes the destination worthwhile.”