Owner Profile: Harry Reeder
Author: Janel Brubaker
R&W Engineering has seen some incredible milestones in the last couple of months. From reaching 100 projects with CIDA to celebrating our 41st anniversary, 2019 has already been a fantastic year. As we reflect on where we’ve been as a company and all we’ve accomplished, it’s clear that none of it would have been possible if not for our founders. With this post we’d like to honor one of them, Harry Reeder.
Mr. Reeder has been in the engineering and construction field for 64 years. He graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. When asked why he chose such a degree, Harry said, “I loved airplanes and wanted to work in the airplane industry.” And he did! Mr. Reeder worked for Boeing for 11 years before he left and worked another 11 years as a mechanical engineer for a consulting engineering firm. “The big changes in my life have occurred in cycles of eleven years,” he said.
One of the most challenging aspects of starting R&W, Mr. Reeder said, was the finances. Finding clients so they could make enough to stay open was a concern for the first two years as they established themselves as a viable engineering firm in the Portland area. “We just had to keep on working,” Mr. Reeder said. Therefore, he and the co-founder, Mark Wirfs, decided to focus the company on electrical engineering, instrumentation, and control systems. The Portland area was already saturated with mechanical engineering firms, while other engineering needs were given less attention. Mr. Reeder and Mr. Wirfs saw in that an opportunity to meet a need in the area and bring in more clients simultaneously.
While they focused their initial efforts on establishing themselves as an electrical engineering, instrumentation, and control systems firm, they also worked hard to launch a mechanical engineering side as well. These different services, in tandem, allowed Reeder and Wirfs to generate a diverse list of clients who could come to R&W for a variety of engineering needs. It was because of this, according to Mr. Reeder, the company became financially solid after two years and by the five-year mark, had an excellent client list.
“The most rewarding part of being an owner of R&W has been watching it grow and watching the employees grow,” said Mr. Reeder. He described R&W as being a culture of honesty filled with respectable people. “I always tried to hire people smarter than me,” he said. “I think we’ve built a company we can be proud of.” Mr. Reeder has been a pillar of strength for R&W. His leadership, his unwavering dedication to the company, the employees, and the clients, and his love for the industry are part of what has made R&W so successful.
Harry Reeder loves to play golf. He’s an Elder in his church. He was very active in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, where he served in several positions, including as member of the Governing Board. He has travelled for a lot for different jobs, relocating to several states, though Oregon has always called him back. He was the 30th President of The Consulting Engineers of Oregon (an organization that is now called the American Council of Engineering Companies of Oregon). He likes to read historical novels and is currently working his way through Churchill. Harry played football, basketball, and baseball in high school. When he worked for Boeing, he played in their company’s softball league.
We love and respect him as a person and for all he’s done for R&W, and find great value that he still visits the office and mentors us in his free time. Thank you, Harry!