Bravo! Entrepreneur Award Winners: John Rinaldi

John Rinaldi

CEO and founder

Real Time Automation Inc.


Employees: 25

Open a package from Real Time Automation and you will find one of six toys the company includes with all of its shipments. Collect all six and you win a remote-controlled helicopter.

“People actually fight over who is going to open our boxes,” said John Rinaldi, chief executive officer and founder of Real Time Automation.

The Pewaukee-based company helps manufacturers connect and integrate equipment on the factory floor. Rinaldi has built the business with a focus on simplicity, quality technical service and unique marketing.

Rinaldi also applies out-of-the-box thinking to his company culture. He has an eight- to 10-step interview process that includes one or two meals with a candidate. One year, he offered to take the entire team to Hawaii if the company doubled its sales.

Rinaldi started his career at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and then went to Allen-Bradley, but always wanted to start a business and eventually tried his hand at making electronic toys. As he worked to get the toy business going, colleagues from Allen-Bradley asked him to help with customer projects, and soon he had built an industrial automation business.

The business, however, struggled to grow because Rinaldi focused in the wrong areas.

“Most engineers think of business as if we build it, they will come,” Rinaldi said. “Anybody who has been in business knows if you build it, they don’t come, it’s if you market it and sell it, they come.”

Realizing the power of marketing and sales, Rinaldi switched his focus and the business gained traction.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.