Christine Rohe Featured

10:01am EDT July 22, 2002

RTN is not a household word. Yet.

Launched by CEO Christine Rohe, her sister and a friend, RTN sold a contract for $600,000 to its first client in 1994 and by 1998 was on track to post sales as high as $30 million.

The company continues to play to its strength producing educational programming for distance-learning programs, and for 1999, RTN is poised to break into new markets. One new venture slated for this year, Fashion Forward Network, is aimed at cosmetology professionals. A second, Sports Education Network, is tailored to scholastic and collegiate coaches, student athletes and their parents.

The company’s biggest challenge will be to continue taking advantage of opportunities while effectively managing its growth. RTN is planning to identify a new corporate headquarters site, where it will take all of its production facilities in-house under one roof.

For Rohe, the challenge will be to retain a sense of being connected to her employees, whom she credits with much of RTN’s success, as the company grows. Rohe realized how quickly the company was growing when she noticed many of the more-recently hired employees, unlike early hires, were unfamiliar to her. She decided to bolster her relationship with the newer people by having lunch occasionally with different departments.

Rohe started RTN largely because she thought she could do a better job providing distance-learning services by satellite transmission than a former employer. The company, which got off the ground providing instruction to medical professionals and fueled its early growth by landing agreements with large firms including HealthSouth Corp. and Beverly Enterprises, has expanded its programming to include seminars and instruction for business professionals.

Last year, it inked a deal with the Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania to co-produce instructional programming for the organization’s members.

With the kind of growth RTN experienced in its first five years, perhaps Rohe should consider an instructional network for entrepreneurs.