Attracted by a scientific approach to all things, Chris Inverso aspired to be a doctor as a young man. “I loved it (how you could) just change one variable, test a hypothesis, and let data tell you what the right answers are going to be,” said Inverso.
But after graduating with a biology degree in 2001, Inverso was “disillusioned with applying to medical schools” and “stumbled” into banking. “I quickly realized that I hadn’t really given up on my dream; it just sort of changed the scope,” said the Pacific Lutheran University graduate.
After several years in banking, Inverso earned his MBA from the University of Washington Tacoma and joined Tukwila-based Rainier Industries in 2014 as the first Chief Financial Officer. He became general manager in 2020 and rose to CEO last fall.
When Rainier Industries was founded 125 years ago, such a manufacturer of awnings was as common on Main Street as butchers, banks and hairdressers. “Today it’s taken a bit of a backseat that people don’t see it as some kind of institution in a city. But it’s still core to who we are,” Inverso said.
Inverso recognizes Rainier’s leadership in the 1980s in expanding the business into retractable residential awnings, retractable electric screens and commercial design. As a result, Rainier’s current client list includes Columbia Sportswear, REI, Nordstrom, Google and more. Projects include public art exhibits, locker rooms for professional sports teams, and corporate-branded environments — the company even makes the myriad flags that adorn the Space Needle.
On a return flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Inverso recalled encountering a display made by Rainier — something he now counts as one of his proudest moments with the company. “It was especially profound because I didn’t expect to see it,” he recalled. “I was just expecting to get off my plane and go home.”
As for the scientific method, Inverso today uses his yen to test hypotheses through his pandemic hobby, mixology, and continues to live up to his high school moniker, Doctor.
“I’ve always felt intimidated ordering cocktails at restaurants and not being able to get into restaurants (during the COVID lockdown) made me feel like this is a good time to practice and learn,” he said.
5 am Morning walk with my wife. An early and sometimes wet start to my day, but always the best.
7am Grinding and brewing French Press coffee is my first task when I arrive at our Tukwila office.
7:15 a.m I try to attend a production stand-up meeting every day. Today I joined our shadow team. These people make our electric retractable screens and awnings.
7:45 o clock Next, the Senior Leadership Team stands up briefly. We talk about our schedules and priorities for the day.
8:30 am Teams meet with our new ownership group, LFM Capital. Since the beginning of COVID, many of my meetings are taking place online; Part of our “new normal”.
9 am Check in with members of our show and shelter teams who work at our Tukwila facility. I try to do the rounds every day because I love hearing what our teams are up to.
9:30 am During our weekly Executive Leadership Team meetings, we review company performance and financial metrics.
11:40 a.m Before lunch I go to the workshop to see what we are making today. This is one of our electric retractable awnings.
Midday Lunch with Matt Cutchin, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at our local Pho restaurant. Pho and good company are the perfect “recipe” on a rainy day.
14 o’clock It’s time for my weekly one-on-one with our senior vice president of operations, Spencer Bruil. I have one-on-one meetings with all of my direct reports every week.
3:45 p.m Check out our latest project for the Salt Lake City Airport. This is a three-part public art installation that requires precise tube bending and fabric work.
4:30 p.m I stop by the shipping department to check in and make sure we’re hitting our goals for the day.
5:45 p.m My daily ritual is to listen to an audio book on the drive home. Today it’s Relentless Solution Focus by Jason Selk.
6:30 p.m Like most, our family is busy, but we always do our best to find time for dinner together. Our family of five always has interesting stories and laughs around the dining table.
8:30 p.m During the pandemic, I started making craft cocktails at home — choosing the appropriate glasses and measuring with precision. For me, this is the ideal way to switch off after a hard day.
8:45 p.m planning for tomorrow. Knowing my top three priorities for the next day is crucial.