Heard on Campus: R.T. Custer

“About a year ago we were posed with this problem: How do you sell a product online that is custom-built, completely one-of-a-kind, antique and yet 3D printed? It’s hard to explain. And to sell it online with no verbal communication? How do we give the customer all the options? We’re selling these to baby-boomers, and Web apps aren’t always immediately user-friendly to our audience.

“When you walk into our retail store in Colorado, it’s a workshop. You can see people at work, building and assembling the watches. We wanted to be able to create the same level of excitement online that customers would get in our store. So we got a site built that replicates that process. It’s interactive for the customer — they can create their own product. And now, by the time the customer builds a watch on our website, they can see the result and they want it. “

-- R.T. Custer, co-founder and CEO of Vortic Watch Company, graduated from Penn State in 2014 with a degree in industrial engineering and minors in leadership and entrepreneurship.

In 2014, he began his career with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as a logistics engineer. For the last two years he’s designed the future of logistics operations for the world’s largest retailer and managed a portfolio of capital improvement projects worth more than $20 million.

R.T.’s vision for Vortic, coupled with his experience in large-scale, complex projects, has taken the company from a small niche watch brand, to a presence recognized for significant contributions to the industry. Using antique and new parts — including 3D printed steels and titaniums — Vortic builds the only 100 percent American-made wristwatch on the market. 

Custer spoke at University Park on April 13 as part of IST Startup Week 2016, a weeklong celebration showcasing talented innovators and entrepreneurs from around the country. View the schedule or watch live streaming events at ist.psu.edu/startup.  

Last Updated April 15, 2016