Ray Brougham is always ready to pivot and do whatever is necessary to advance his professional life; this trait led him to establish Rainhouse Manufacturing Canada Ltd in 2001.
Ray worked as an industrial mechanic in the forestry industry in the 90s. Although he was pleased with his work, after a few years of working closely with engineers, he was determined to do more and decided to pursue an engineering degree. He certainly had doubts about going back to University and changing professions at 39 years old, but in 1995 he ignored those doubts and enrolled at the University of Victoria to become a mechanical engineer.
Upon graduating, Ray started working in a shared space with Redlen technologies. He was fascinated to work on projects alongside Redlen technologies; however, when new projects and independent contracts began knocking on the door, he knew it was time to create his first company. Later that year, Ray established Prototype Equipment Design (PED).
PED started in Ray’s basement with only a lathe and his first CNC machine. By 2004, the company’s growth had been imminent; thus, he moved to 532 William Street in Victoria, making it its headquarters for the next 20 years.
The company’s success was showing as they had numerous projects, new partnerships, and some growing pains. PED was doing very well until clients decided to go for lower cost and lower quality manufacturers overseas one by one. Under those circumstances, Ray had to pivot and not only specialize in private company projects but redirect his focus to the marine and defense industries and continue to build strong interpersonal connections with his clients.
PED changed its name and appearance in 2017 when it rebranded to Rainhouse Manufacturing Canada Ltd in order to communicate its capabilities and not be seen only as a prototype company.
Ray realized the challenging part of owning a company is not the machining aspect but maintaining the connection you build with your clients and your team. Ray explains that the most challenging part of running his business has been finding the right people. Over the years, he has learned the importance of finding passionate people who enjoy what they do because that is when they thrive and become the “perfect fit” for a position. He has always felt responsible for looking out for 20 employees and ensuring their needs are always met. Nonetheless, Ray strives to create a great working environment and continues to ensure that passion and love for what you do are carried on.
Throughout this long and exciting journey, Ray found two allies who share his vision and demonstrate their passion for what they do every day. In November 2004, Kory Pollner was hired to work as a machinist, where he proved to be an innovative thinker, creative problem solver, and someone who is not afraid to stand out. In August 2010, Chris Lichty also joined the company as a machinist. He showed dedication to CNC programming and incredible team management skills. Seeing their full potential and love for what they do, in 2019, Ray decided to offer Kory Pollner and Chris Lichty to buy into the company, and they now hold 22% of Rainhouse shares. Kory is currently the Quality Director, and Chris is now the VP of Manufacturing.
Rainhouse has endured and overcome many obstacles to be a well-known industry leader. That’s a great source of joy for Ray, and he believes that “Every year, we get better at what we do. It doesn’t mean we are perfect. We make mistakes, but we solve them, and that is what makes us better.”
Ray shared that he keeps working and going to the office because he loves it. He still gets excited about new projects, working with customers, and encouraging the Rainhouse team to succeed by doing what they love. He believes that “the more you do one thing, the better you get at it; and that growth is only possible with the collaboration of a great team and the strengthening of supply chains on the island.”
Currently, Ray’s efforts focus more on the business side of things than the daily to-do’s. He fully trusts that the combination of Rainhouse’s talented workforce and bright shareholders will continue to lead our company to success, well after he decides to retire.