By Jennifer Erb
2016-08-262016-09-01https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Neal Starkey was appointed to go to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He dropped out after one semester because of poor grades. He returned home embarrassed by his performance. His father, brother, and sister were engineers so Neal thought about engineering. He hitchhiked from Parkersburg to Morgantown to see if he could be admitted. He met with the Associate Dean of the College and convinced him he was worth accepting.
Neal had a friend that was given a private scholarship to attend college, but his friend had initially decided not to attend. At Neal’s urging, the friend changed his mind. His friend’s family mentioned Neal to the donor, who then extend a scholarship to Neal. This paid for all of Neal’s education. Neal selected Industrial Engineering based on the recommendation of his sister.
Neal was determined to reverse the mistakes from his first college start. At the end of the first semester at WVU, he had a 3.8 GPA. He went to the Director of the WVU Foundation to thank him for helping him with the funding arrangements. This small thank you led to Neal’s eventual career.
While in college Neal was good at computer programming. Personal computers were just becoming used, and Neal become proficient at writing code for PC’s.
The Director of the WVU Foundation connected Neal with a WVU graduate who was creating a company providing software for the fast food industry. Neal was the fifth employee hired by the company, now called RTI. Neal has been with RTI, Inc his entire career and is currently the company’s President.
What Neal is especially proud of is the creation of a website called Northpole.com. The website gets millions of hits each year, especially around Christmas. The website is a very valuable property, but Neal and the other owner have decided to keep it noncommercial.
Neal has had multiple opportunities to work for larger companies, but has decided to stay at RTI. He likes the company’s values and the life style it affords him more than the money he could make with a larger company. “I really value the personal thank you’s more than the deals,” Neal says.
Neal started his career at Restaurant Technology, Inc. in 1983 working as a software developer writing accounting operations management software for the restaurant vertical. In 1986 Neal was promoted to Software Development Manager, overseeing the design, development and technical support for the company’s products as the company grew its product line. Neal continue in this role until 1996 when he was promoted to Vice President. In this role he was responsible for all Product Development and Custom Service. By 2001 Neal was promoted to Executive Vice President and his responsibilities grew to include Product Development, Quality Assurance and Internal Systems/Infrastructure. Neal also worked with the company’s largest clients. In 2012 Neal was named to his current position as President and COO. In this role Neal lead the reorganization of the Sales and Customer Support teams, and has implemented SCRUM for all product development.
Starkey received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from West Virginia University in 1983.