An ACT News Executive Interview with Todd Mouw, President, ROUSH CleanTech, Livonia, Michigan
To say Todd Mouw is enthusiastic about the innovative work they’re doing at ROUSH CleanTech is an understatement. The company is an industry leader in alternative fuel vehicle technology, and a division of Roush Enterprises. In the last decade, Todd has played a key role in taking the company from a start-up to a profitable business with more than 18,000 product sales to Fortune 500 fleets, school districts and government fleets. He is a recognized leader in the propane autogas industry, as he guides and directs the matrix of ROUSH CleanTech activities.
ROUSH CleanTech designs, engineers, manufactures and installs propane autogas and electric fuel system technology for medium-duty Ford commercial vehicles and school buses, and compressed natural gas fuel systems for school buses. As a Ford QVM-certified alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer, ROUSH CleanTech delivers economical, clean and domestically produced fueling options for fleets across North America.
ROUSH is hosting a California Roadshow in November to provide the opportunity to test drive vehicles with the propane autogas near-zero-emission engine.
Todd has an ability to connect with people, and he’s put that talent to good use in helping make ROUSH CleanTech a premier choice in the alternative fuel industry. ACT News caught up with Todd to learn how he plans to keep pushing innovation while always putting customers and people first.
ACT News: How do you separate ROUSH CleanTech from other competition in the industry?
Todd Mouw: There are many competitive advantages we have developed over the last decade, but in my mind it is our steadfast commitment to the customer and ensuring we deliver on the promise we made when they purchased our product. Our people drive that passion. Even though I feel like we have the best product, brand, engineering, etc., ultimately our biggest advantage is how engaged our employees are to always do the right thing for the customer.
We are constantly pushing innovation. For example, last year, we introduced the first propane autogas engine that was 75-percent cleaner than the EPA’s emissions standard. But, we knew our next challenge was to meet CARB’s lowest nitrogen oxide (NOx) standard. We achieved that this past summer with the first available 0.02 g/bhp-hr. ultra-low NOx engine for class 4-7 vehicles.
We are hosting a California Roadshow in November to provide fleets and other clean transportation stakeholders the opportunity to get behind the wheel of several trucks and buses equipped with this near-zero-emission engine to test the power and performance. The Roadshow will start in Sacramento on November 6, then head to Fresno on November 7, and end on November 8 in Los Angeles. (Learn more.)
ACT News: How do you foster innovation at ROUSH CleanTech?
Todd Mouw: We have a very flat organization and encourage all of our teammates to provide input on how to improve our product, service, customer experience, etc. We continually train our folks to listen to the needs of the customer and to drive new features and functions our customers value.
ACT News: What drew you to ROUSH CleanTech originally? And how has ROUSH CleanTech changed since?
Todd Mouw: Growing up in Detroit and being a car guy, I was always a fan of Jack Roush. He has always given his team the tools they needed to build the company. You could spend a week touring all of the different buildings at Roush Enterprises, to learn about some of the groundbreaking work we are doing in the energy, entertainment, defense and autonomous vehicle sectors. That is the broader Roush.
Propane is a domestically produced energy resource that does not get enough press. We have an abundant supply, and it is value priced.
For ROUSH CleanTech we started with a few people and an idea more than a decade ago. It’s been so fulfilling to see it grow into 90 plus employees, almost 2,000 customers and 18,000 vehicles deployed — not only for the difference we have made for our customers and partners, but also for the growth opportunities for our people.
ACT News: What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with ROUSH CleanTech?
Todd Mouw: We will continue to listen to the market. There is no doubt that electric vehicle technology will become more mainstream, and we will be at the center of that for commercial trucks and school buses. We also won’t take our foot off the gas on propane autogas. Propane is a domestically produced energy resource that continues to not get enough press. We have an abundant supply, and it is value priced. Couple that with our ultra-low NOx engine technology, and it’s a solution that can make a major impact in transportation over the next few decades. Beyond that, we will continue to leverage Roush to integrate more value-added technology into our solution. This could be some form of autonomy, vehicle prognostics, etc., that ultimately will help our customers safely reduce their operating costs and operational headaches.
ACT News: What advice would you offer to young professionals interested in pursuing a similar career path?
Todd Mouw: Listen a lot, find a mentor and be patient. The alternative energy sector in transportation is still in its infancy, so there will be plenty of opportunity for talented folks to make an impact. Getting the broadest understanding of how everything operates — from engineering to sales to marketing to manufacturing to customer success — will be important. Getting that broader base of understanding and experience will allow you to find your true passion.
Also, force yourself to be uncomfortable. If you gravitate to what you know and what is easy, you will not grow. Some of my most rewarding experiences have come from being “outside my comfort zone.”
ACT News: What are your hopes for the clean transportation and energy industry?
Todd Mouw: Continue to push the envelope. Even if we see a short term drop in oil/diesel prices. We need to stay the course on R&D and innovation, and not let off the gas pedal.
The alternative energy sector in transportation is still in its infancy, so there will be plenty of opportunity for talented folks to make an impact.
ACT News: What other leadership roles do you hold in the community and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
Todd Mouw: I am on a couple of boards, which I enjoy. It gives me a different perspective on the business to see the challenges and opportunities other organizations face. It forces me to think differently. My wife is a high school teacher, currently on hiatus helping to raise our son, but we spend quite a bit of time working with her former school in multiple volunteer capacities. I love kids and find it very rewarding to help a kid “unlock themselves” to find their passion and life direction. Seeing others succeed is more rewarding than seeing it happen for myself.
ACT News: What is a great piece of advice you have personally received? Did you have occasion to put it to use?
Todd Mouw: Be humble and listen more than you talk. This is not rocket science but it was an early lesson from my first manager that has stuck with me for more than two decades. I try to practice it every day at the office and I look for it when we try to hire new talent.
ACT News: How do you define “success”?
Todd Mouw: Be better than I was the day before and help those around me, including teammates, partners, customers and the industry at large, achieve their goals. I learned early that money and status are not how I want to be judged.
ACT News: If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Todd Mouw: I would be a pro golfer. I played competitively through college and still play in select amateur events. Watching the pros deal with all of the distractions while achieving premium performance is amazing. The best in the business are so strong mentally and can visualize success; being able to apply that in all facets of life would be incredible.
ACT News: What are the most important things you have learned in the last five years?
Todd Mouw: Things are never as good or bad as you think they are. I try to always make business decisions based on data and facts. I see people and companies make really bad decisions founded on emotion that can be very tough to recover from. Also, surround yourself with the best talent you can find. Our world is changing and a scarce commodity can be finding the right talented people, so you need to have an eye for talent that can be harnessed in a way that is best for the person and the business.
Interested in attending ROUSH CleanTech’s California Roadshow next month? Check out the trucks and school bus available for a test drive, view the ½ day agenda, and register to join ROUSH in one of three locations:
- Tuesday, November 6 – Sacramento
- Wednesday, November 7 – Fresno
- Thursday, November 8 – Los Angeles
To learn more and register, visit http://learn.advancedcleanvehicle.com/roushroadshow