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Western Massachusetts Success Story: Rosalie the Riveter

rtr technologies

Rosie the Riveter, an American icon made famous by Norman Rockwell hung for years in the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge, MA. Today, the former museum is where Rosalie Berger is getting her inspiration and building her business as CEO of RTR Technologies. 

Rosalie didn’t set out to be a business woman. She was an early childhood reading teacher in Coney Island, NY, for eight years but always had a fascination with manufacturing. After teaching she got into real estate and was very successful with her expertise in evaluating buildings for developers -- which led to her becoming a broker. In 1989 she was showing an apartment to a client that happened to be an engineer with an idea for a “third rail” heating system for train tracks. This gentleman was Craig Berger, who later became her husband. Was it a fortuitous meeting or fate? Either way, her love of manufacturing led to the founding of RTR. The company had received a lot of success in the early years until the tragic events of 9-11. Rail use plummeted and with it, her business was in peril. 

Rosalie turned to SBA and the Small Business Development Center Network for guidance. ”If it weren’t for the SBA, we would be out of business”, says Rosalie. Prior to 9-11 RTR utilized two SBA loans to fund its business. After 9-11, “traditional” lenders would not approve a loan for her business. She was in dire straits and subsequently worked closely with a local SBA representative and SBDC to receive a 9-11 economic recovery loan. 

Since 1993, Rosalie has been carving out a niche market for her company and working with clients globally in the mass transit industry. RTR is a market leader in sustainable design and manufacturing of energy-efficient heating and de-icing systems for rail and mass transit systems. As a certified woman-owned business, Rosalie has come a long way in an industry, mostly male-dominated -- where long sought after government contracts were highly competitive. RTR is a company that has sustained itself through the years, by utilizing the SBA tools available that were meant to help disadvantaged businesses. Years of perseverance paid off this past year, when RTR was awarded a $6.5 million contract to modernize control systems for contact rail heat and switch heaters throughout the entire Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) system. 

Today her company employees over 40 personnel with over $30 million in projects, with MBTA, NJ Transit, and Washington-Dulles transit to name a few. She remains energetic and passionate - “Success through Service” is her mantra which is the pervasive attitude throughout her company. She adores the “Old Corner House” built in 1782 which is the company headquarters. In fact she is personally responsible for selecting the art work and other adornments. Art being a passion of Rosalie’s -- it is no surprise that she takes pride in supporting artists, art venues and various other local charities. 

Rosalie has worked hard to make her company successful. She sought and received assistance from SBA which propelled her company forward. Rosie the Riveter would be proud.