Julia Harrianan is the vice president of RTI Shelving Systems, a company specializing in complex custom shelving and storage projects for clients from libraries to high-end retailers. The company was established in 2001 when her husband, a master shelving installer working for another contractor, was unfairly compensated for a major project. Ms. Harrianan recalls him “ripping up the check and starting over from scratch” to build his own independent shelving company. At the time, RTI Shelving Systems had few clients and no employees, and Ms. Harrianan took time off from her own position with Cosmetic Concepts to help her husband develop the company.
As the company grew, Ms. Harrianan was able to hire more contractors and begin manufacturing shelving units in-house. During the early years of the business, she remembers spending weekends at the RTI Shelving Systems warehouse helping to assemble shelves. After several years, the couple had built RTI Shelving Systems into a major competitor in the industry with a reputation for exceptional quality and attention to customer service, and they were able to purchase the company that Ms. Harrianan’s husband formerly worked with. After the acquisition of the other company’s assets and business, Ms. Harrianan left her job with Cosmetic Concepts to work at RTI Shelving Systems full time. She notes that it was difficult to leave after 10 years with Cosmetic Concepts, but that it ultimately became one of the most beneficial risks she has ever taken.
Ms. Harrianan is a financial management expert but remains active in all levels of RTI Shelving Systems’ business, from meeting with clients on site to supervising administrative work. In recent years, the company has begun to secure contracts with major international brands, including Zara stores across North America and Puerto Rico, as well as Louis Vuitton. Ms. Harrianan attributes her success to her commitment and dedication to the business and her hands-on approach to management, adding that “not succeeding is not an option.” She is grateful to her employees and support team and strives to make sure that everyone in the company — clients and employees — are happy and feel taken care of.
Before starting RTI Shelving Systems, Ms. Harrianan studied at the University of the West Indies and had earned several awards and distinctions for her distinctive presence and dedication to her work with previous employers. She explains that she loves her work in the shelving industry and considers it a career highlight to be able to do something she finds satisfying every day. In the future, she hopes to continue growing RTI Shelving Systems with a broader focus on international work. In her personal time, Ms. Harrianan is a generous donor to several area charities, and the owner of a second home that she uses to sponsor international students visiting the United States. As an immigrant herself, Ms. Harrianan feels called to “pass it forward” to others and look after the students as they explore the country and their education.