LIMA — In 1973, Clyde Rauch graduated from college and returned to work at H.U. Tuttle & Son Inc. He started there in 1969, doing construction labor.
In the middle of a recession, the newly-minted college grad with a degree in business administration returned to Tuttle. The job available was the job he left, laborer. He took it. Company President Tom Tuttle hired him and said he’d consider him for an expediter, on one condition.
“I’ll hire you, but you have to cut your hair,” Rauch recalls Tuttle telling him.
It was 1973.
Rauch did, and Tuttle did. Since 1992, Rauch has run Tuttle with that same humility and good sense. He will retire this year after 45 years with the company he grew multiple times over. He will be honored for his years of professional and community service Thursday at Shawnee Country Club. While his last official day with the company is June 13, he plans to keep his office through the end of the year.
In 2013, Rauch transitioned from CEO of Tuttle Construction to chairman of the board. Paul Crow was promoted to president and CEO. Crow will now become CEO of Tuttle Services, the parent company over the construction and construction management firms.
Ask Rauch, 63, what he’s most proud of, and he stops to make sure he’s clear about a division: personal and professional.
“I’ve been a husband to one and father to three,” Rauch says about his wife, Kay, and children, Aaron, Caleb and Abigail. “And I’m grateful for how I’ve been able to serve in my church.”
Professionally, Rauch took a respected but small company and multiplied it without veering away from the quality it was known for: Tuttle went from six employees to 50 under Rauch and now does $100 million in business each year. In 2003, Tuttle formed a sister company, construction management firm Touchstone CPM, which specializes in healthcare and education buildings.
When you build things for a living, you’re reminded of your work. Rauch can point to buildings at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima Memorial Health System, Lima Ford Engine Plant, the original and new Lima Senior High schools, Lima Family YMCA and Eastgate shopping center, just to name a few. The company does work primarily around the state, and especially recently in new school construction along Interstate 75.
“That’s one thing I enjoy about this industry, your work is a monument you get to drive by,” Rauch said. “You can tell your kids and grandkids. The buildings we put up are there for a while, and they bring back good memories.”
One of the buildings Rauch is most well known for is his own. In January 2008, Rauch was on his way back from Columbus when he received two phone calls. The first was to tell him employees were evacuating because of a natural gas leak. The second was to break the news of an explosion at the Tuttle Construction office building on Shawnee Road.
The company was a model in disaster recovery and business continuity. The explosion was on a Friday, but on Monday, employees completed payroll, just as they always did. Employees took a few days to reassure customers nothing would change, nothing would be delayed, and it wasn’t. And, by December, employees moved into the new Tuttle office building, with certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design construction.
Rauch credits two teachers for his success and the company’s success. Tom Tuttle taught him about the construction industry, and Rauch’s father, Clyde E. Rauch, who also worked for Tuttle for 50 years, taught him about people. The company has diversified its business to help navigate ups and downs in the economy.
“But it’s not the reason Tuttle endures. The heritage of great leadership is the reason the company endures,” Rauch said.
As he started to think about 2014, Rauch realized the year would mark his 45th with the company and decided he was interested in the “last trimester” of his life — serving God; enjoying his family, homes, golf game and Ohio State football; and taking a certain car out for a spin.
A few years ago, Rauch, a self-described Ford guy, started looking for a Thunderbird. In January, he found it: a 1957 two-seater that was the first of only seven made in a particular color, canyon gold.
“It’s part of the retirement plan,” Rauch said with a twinkle.
He also anticipates watching the company grow even more.
“I’m proud that this is a company that’s been part of the Lima community since 1928, and I tell the guys of the future here I’m hoping I’ll be here in 2028 when Tuttle celebrates 100 years,” he said.