IFSJ Exclusive Interview: Jon Walter, Managing Director at Rhino Doors

Jon Walter

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Rhino Doors, manufacturer of high-performance engineered doors, recently appointed Jon Walter as Managing Director. IFSJ Editor Iain Hoey caught up with Jon to find out more about what his appointment means for the company.

Can you tell me a bit about Rhino Doors: what it is, what solutions it provides?

Rhino Doors designs and manufactures high-integrity doors for the protection of people and high-value assets, and our products offer our clients protection against terrorist assault, explosion, fire, noise, flood or radiation, or a combination of these hazards.

We work across several key sectors, including transport, defence and critical national infrastructure, and our customer portfolio is extremely varied and has included the Ministry of Defence, Transport for London, utilities providers, power generation companies, and hospitals.

We offer our clients a fully comprehensive service, including design and manufacture, site assessment to plan for installation, and installation and servicing through our dedicated aftersales division, Rhino Site Systems.

Can you tell me a bit about your background?

I have always worked in the manufacturing industry, initially in the automotive and rail sectors, and latterly with specialist engineering businesses, of which Rhino is a great example.

My career started in quality management and then progressed through operational control to business management, in the UK, Europe, and the US. I have also spent some time in management consultancy, particularly in the field of operational and business improvement.

How did you come to join Rhino Doors as Managing Director?

I was introduced to Rhino Doors through a mutual acquaintance. The company has grown significantly over the last three years and, to better focus on meeting its clients’ needs, has transformed from a single site company to a holding group, managing three companies over two sites.

Rhino Engineering Group is the parent company, with Rhino Doors, Rhino Site Systems and Rhino HySafe all sitting beneath it. When Stuart Lawrence moved up to Group Managing Director of Rhino Engineering Group, a vacancy was created for a Managing Director of Rhino Doors.

When I was introduced to the company, I was struck by the positive can-do culture and the willingness to go the extra mile to support clients. That, together with an impressive product range and my preference for niche engineering, made it an interesting proposition and I joined Rhino in April of this year.

What expertise will you be bringing to the business?

I have many years’ experience of running and growing engineering businesses. I enjoy selling engineered products which address a challenging technical problem; if the product is good, selling is really about demonstrating the technical solution to the customer, which is very satisfying. Having worked in the automotive industry, I am uncompromising when it comes to improving business performance by reducing waste and introducing methods of working smarter, not harder.

Can you tell me more about Rhino Doors’ expansion plans? Are there any markets it’s looking to expand into?

Rhino’s plan is to continue the pace of growth over the next four years to roughly double the size it is now. This will be achieved by diversifying into other sectors and by continuing to grow the Group’s installation and servicing business.

We see significant opportunities in the nuclear energy sector, with the decommissioning of the Magnox era reactors and the need for secure storage areas for contaminated waste. We are developing a series of very high-performance fire doors which will have multiple applications, and our security door business continues to show strong growth. It is particularly exciting to see the launch this year of Rhino’s high-performance insulated fire door offering up to 90-minute protection for both integrity and insulation, presented in a package that will be attractive to architects.

Another exciting development for the Group is our sister company, Rhino HySafe, which is currently in the R&D phase of producing ultra-fast explosion relief products for use within hydrogen refuelling stations. This project, which is part-funded by the Welsh Government, has no direct connection to Rhino Doors, but we are watching with close interest to see how HySafe’s products could incorporate Rhino Doors technology.

Generally, we will play to our strengths and expand our involvement in challenging, high-value projects which use doors with multiple protective functions. On the installation and servicing side, I know that Rhino Site Systems wish to provide customers with safety checking and servicing plans for non-Rhino doors, in addition to our own installed portfolio.

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