Business classes host CEO Randy Boyd

December 14, 2011
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications
865.981.8207; karen.eldridge@maryvillecollege.edu

Randy Boyd, chairman and CEO of Radio Systems Corporation (RSC), spent the better part of Nov. 15 on the campus of Maryville College, speaking to students and faculty in two business classes and several administrators at lunch.

Those who heard him took away different pieces of advice, but they seem to agree on one thing: Everyone on campus should hear his story.

“For my class, [BUS349] Introduction to Entrepreneurship, it was especially valuable for students to hear from a successful entrepreneur who has built a successful business,” said Dr. Mary Kay Sullivan, professor emeritus of business. “Whether or not students are planning to start their own business, there are important lessons to be learned about business – and about life – from someone like Randy Boyd.

“I believe students learned that success comes with a commitment to honesty, to trying new things and learning from your mistakes, to listening and continually improving,” she added. “I thought this was a tremendous educational experience, and students agreed.”

In his presentation to Sullivan’s class, Boyd talked about how he got into the business in 1991, the challenges he faced and the strategies he has used to make RSC an industry leader in the management of pet behavior, pet training solutions, containment systems, safety and lifestyle product solutions.

(The corporation, headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., is the maker of the PetSafe®, Invisible Fence®, Innotek®, SportDOG®, Staywell® and Unleashed Technology® brands.)

Boyd said he expects his company will end 2011 with $315 million in sales but expects to report $1 billion in sales by 2015.

“Our mission is to be the most trusted brand in the pet ownership experience,” he told students.

Boyd shared his corporation’s three growth strategies, four operating strategies and seven values, the first of which is “Try.”

“Try a lot of stuff and keep what works,” he told the students. “The only failure is failure to try … No company will be around if it fails to innovate.”

In the last four years, RSC was issued 53 patents, second only in the state to Oak Ridge National Laboratories. It employs 651 associates worldwide, operating offices in eight time zones.

Inviting the students to tour RSC headquarters in Knoxville, Boyd said they would see that the company values an environment of openness, equality, fairness and teamwork. He told them that they also would see that numerous associates bring their pets to work. It’s encouraged, he said, and helps the company continually think about opportunities and solutions.

“We listen. We identify consumer needs, meet those needs and let consumers know about it,” he said.

To hear the ideas of his associates, he holds monthly “Birthday Lunch and Listens” for employees celebrating birthdays but is also proactive about sharing company news.

“I want associates who know what’s going on,” he said.

Maryville College senior Tom Webster called the presentation “inspiring.” As a member of Sullivan’s class, he was required to research RSC and its CEO prior to the Nov. 15 presentations and write a paper following the presentation.

Webster said Boyd’s story is “proof that hard work, determination and perseverance pay off.”

The business and organization management major from Knoxville said Boyd’s talk on the importance of mission was particularly significant to him.

“Mr. Boyd's advice for establishing a mission and setting goals was the most meaningful to me,” Webster said. “He has the goal of becoming a $1 billion organization by 2015. This gives him something to work toward, and it sets the bar for the productivity of the company.”

Carrie McConkey, a regional advancement officer at the College, also attended the presentations and the lunch that followed. McConkey said she first heard Boyd share his story last April at a meeting of the Knoxville Chapter of Financial Executives International.

“The audience was enthralled – even those who knew Randy's story were excited to hear it again,” she said. “His manner was warm and engaging, and he wove his career tales into an interesting, informative and inspiring presentation.

“I wanted Maryville College students to hear Randy's story and realize that the foundation of his success could be within anyone's reach: working very, very hard, with an unwavering commitment to one's vision and the people who help achieve that vision.”

As one of the people instrumental in inviting Boyd to campus, McConkey said she is pleased – but not surprised – that students, faculty and administrators were equally impressed.

“The appeal of Randy Boyd's career story crosses generational lines and is a timeless example of American entrepreneurship – but he also represents the modern-day businessman who values health, wellness and fulfilling relationships (both human and pet), in addition to the measurable career successes experienced by himself and his employees,” she said.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.