Reality Works, Most Innovative Company
Company: Realityworks Inc., Eau Claire, WI
Company Description: Established 19 years ago Realityworks, Inc. is dedicated to creating experiential learning tools that engage students. Realityworks has simulators and programs that address career preparation areas like infant care with RealCare Baby infant simulators, business management and welding through the teachWELD Welding Simulator.Simulators are in 67% of U.S. school districts in more than 89 countries.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Most Innovative Company of the Year - Up to 100 Employees
Nomination Title: Realityworks® Inc.
Tell the story about what this nominated organization achieved since January 1 2013 (up to 525 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
Innovation at the Core
Established in 1995 to address teen pregnancy prevention, parenting skills, child abuse through educational products, Realityworks is most famous for our RealCare Baby infant simulator (known formerly as Baby Think It Over). We have since developed several other simulators and programs to provide educators with experiential learning tools that address business career preparation. Our most recent development, RealCareer® Welding Solutions, addresses the skills gap in welding and manufacturing by helping educators train future welders.
From the policies we implement to the products we offer, Realityworks constantly strives to innovate– strives that have recently earned us the following awards:
• 2013 Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Special Award for Innovation Excellence
• 2013 Tech & Learning Awards of Excellence: New Product 2013 CIO Review magazines 20 Most Promising Education Tech Solution Providers
Innovation through Sustainability
Realityworks has implemented sustainability initiatives that involve our physical environment, team and products. With facility improvements we decreased our natural gas usage 41.25 percent and our electricity 21.35 percent from 2010 to 2013. These improvements included installation and/or replacement of:
• several windows
• an energy-efficient furnace/AC unit
• an energy-efficient roof
• motion-sensing lights
• high-efficiency LED lighting
Our sustainability philosophy has driven us to redesign products to eliminate waste and cost – a unique practice for education vendors. Some of these innovations include:
• Replacing paper-based curriculum with digital online content, eliminating the need to print 2,400,000 pages each year.
• Creating a RealCare Baby Trade-Up Program with financial incentives for customers who recycle used vinyl simulators and electronics where we have recycled more than 45,000 pounds to date.
• Designing new Babies that use rechargeable batteries, reducing the use and disposal of over 192,000 alkaline C batteries each year.
Innovation through Collaboration
At Realityworks we believe we have a responsibility to help make our world a better place and to be a leading example of Corporate Citizenship. One way we achieve this is by closely partnering with educators, education administrators and organizational leaders to determine the existing and future needs within schools and organizations that could benefit from technological simulation solutions.
In 2013 we implemented a Customer Advisory Board. This program has led to many process and product improvements. It has quickly proven its value in decreasing expenses while increasing revenues through the implementation of the feedback. In June we brought members of our RealCare Customer Advisory council on-site where members gave feedback on product development, product improvements and support.
Innovation from Employees
Realityworks achieves full engagement in work and our corporate culture mission by giving employees opportunities to contribute “their” voice in company initiatives. Through our “Culture Committees” we gain involvement, our “Charitable Giving Committee” makes company donations, our “Wellness Committee” addresses and provides programs regarding health and safety. It is working our employee satisfaction is demonstrated through our low turnover rate and employee tenure. Sixteen percent of full-time regular employees have been with the company for ten or more years and forty percent have been with the company for five or more years.
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Provide a brief (up to 125 words) biography about the leader of this nominated organization:
Timm Boettcher was recruited by Realityworks in 1998 to design and develop cutting-edge technology for new products. He soon assumed leadership for research, development and engineering before becoming president in 2005. Since then, Timm has steered growth towards technologies aimed at workforce training, achieving double-digit, top-line growth while increasing profit and cash flow.
Timm chairs the Association of Career & Technical Education’s Industry Workforce Needs Council and sits on their Board of Directors. He has presented workforce development strategies to Harvard and the U.S. Department of Labor. Previous affiliations include the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, the Innovation Foundation of Western Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin’s International Business Programs Advisory Council.