Here’s another from The Startup Magazine Female Founder Series. We interviewed Ms. Melissa Kehl, President/Owner of Reike Office Interiors. Her early challenges and inspiring successes provided her with a unique set of tools and insights that she uses to grow her business and adapt with new business ideas, especially in this current coronavirus-focused environment.
Melissa has grown ROI over the years expanding services and building a loyal and capable team. Rieke specializes in design services and manufacturing, including custom furniture manufacturing. But Melissa has also expanded ROI into other real estate services such as move management, flooring, lighting, seating, and space planning.
Here Melissa tells us more about her entrepreneurship journey and success story:
TSM: Melissa, to start, describe your product/service in 10 words or less:
Melissa: We transform offices into places people want to work.
TSM: With a bit more detail, what does Rieke Office Interiors do?
Melissa: We design office environments and supply all the items needed from ceilings to floors and everything in between including manufacturing custom office furniture at our manufacturing plant in Elgin, Illinois.
TSM: What inspired you to start ROI? (Share with us what problem you’re solving)
Melissa: I wanted to provide affordable custom solutions for the office environment. To me, that means tailoring the office to match the company’s culture.
TSM: How is your company impacting the world/your clients?
Melissa: We are designing and creating spaces that are efficient and beautifully aligned with the company’s culture.
TSM: What are the disruptive factors in your industry that make it so interesting?
Melissa: We have everything you need for your office project under one roof—design custom furniture, flooring accessories and artwork signage. With our partnering architecture and construction companies, you only have to call one person and have one company be responsible for your whole project.
TSM: Describe the recent ROI pivot point, and its impact on the company?
Melissa: We pivoted our whole company to develop PPE for the office environment to get America back to work quickly and safely. We did this from concept to launch in one week.
TSM: As ROI grew over the years, what were the primary challenges? Hiring? Quality control? Capital?
Melissa: Hiring the right team and getting them in the right seat in the company was our biggest challenge. We developed a hiring process five years ago that has really helped with this. We added a software personality trait survey called Culture Index and we only do value-based interviewing as well as present a life in the day scenario of working at Rieke Office Interiors (ROI). I have the most incredible talented team and having that has been the foundation for us to grow at a new level.
TSM: Going back to your early career decisions, tell us what factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?
Melissa From a young age I never liked being told what to do. I love the freedom to be able to try new things. Fortunately I’m a risk taker. I am passionate about helping people and owning my own business allows me to do that on a daily basis for my customers and my employees.
TSM: And what characteristics do you have that particularly contributed to your ability to jump from a startup success to a scale up success?
Melissa: I am a CPA by trade. I started my career in auditing so I have a good first hand understanding at how business works. I am a not afraid to try new things if they don’t work try something else. I don’t micromanage my team and encourage them to give good ideas and run with them.
TSM: What is one interesting fact about you that people may not know?
Melissa: I barely graduated high school and had to be transferred to a dropout prevention school. From there, I went on to get straight As in college. I was the first person in the history of my high school to get a bachelor’s degree in college.