Rietsch, Ramirez, Duffy, Leahy out with 3M takeover of FSTech

September 1, 2012

2012-09-01: As the part of sale of Federal Signal Technologies (FSTech) division of Federal Signal to 3M some of the top people are being put off. Manfred Rietsch the president of FSTech is going. So is Jon Ramirez director of business development, Bill Duffy of VESystems, and Mike Leahy VP system delivery.

In the last few weeks 3M has organized recruitment panels to interview FSTech staff after which each has either been invited to "transition on to" 3M, or they have been terminated.

So far none has wanted to comment for attribution, but Mike Leahy did email a bunch of colleagues and friends August 30 under the subject line 'End of the Road:'


I will be in the office for last time tomorrow  as I am not transitioning to the new buyer.  My time at VESystems was great and I enjoyed our successes and challenges.  I am looking forward to what happens next.

Thanks for everything,

Mike" (end email)

Another just said in resigned fashion: "This happens in takeovers."

One asked us to hold off reporting the story until the legal formalities of the takeover are complete. We held off to think about it overnight and came to this:

In various ways the story is already 'out' in one-on-one industry chatter.  Besides the reporter's first duty is to readers, not corporate lawyers, bankers etc. And there is the old hacks' exhortation that when in doubt "publish and be damned."

Official announcement soon

An official announcement of personnel changes is expected when the acquisition is finalized. The contractual deadline for completion of the takeover is the end of September, but we're told it is likely to be earlier.

Federal Signal Technologies or FSTech was formed within Federal Signal in early 2010 to integrate a set of specialist toll systems companies acquired over several years:

- Sirit an established and leading RFID or tag/reader supplier

- Idris smart loops for vehicle detection, vehicle tracking and vehicle classification

- PIPS Technologies, traffic cameras

- Federal APD parking, vehicle access control

- VESystems, toll software

The people

The president of the company Manfred A Rietsch (sometimes written REItsch, pronounced by him 'reetsh') came to  corporate management from an extraordinary 26 year career in the US Marine Corps as a combat pilot, Top Gun instructor, and commander of Marine Air Group 11.

The Air University biography credits Rietsch with 653 combat missions in Vietnam with F4 Phantoms and in an F18 fighter with 72 combat missions in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, "the most combat sorties flown by any pilot during the conflict."

In 7,000 combat flight hours he was never shot down... until he reached the corporate world!

Now in his late 60s Rietsch retired a US Marine Colonel in 1992 with a bunch of medals including the highest, the Distinguished Flying Cross (TXDOT, NTTA: he can travel toll-free.)

He also has academic credentials including a degree from University of Minnesota, a masters in systems management from University of Southern California.

In his civilian career post-1992 Rietsch initially worked for Lockheed Martin's IMS group that did toll systems on the Orange County tollroads - the San Joaquin Hills and Foothill and Eastern TRs.

In December 2000 in the Los Angeles area he left the big company to found VESystems to write toll systems software and ran that company until it was bought by Federal Signal in March 2010.

In the Marine Corps he earned the nickname 'Fokker' Rietsch, an allusion to his German birth. He came to America in his teenage years and still has a faint German accent.

In his late 60s, he has a place overlooking the ocean in southern California.

Hard to follow acts

Jon Ramirez, 51, ran operations at the 91 Express Lanes, the pioneering and successful pike-within-a-freeway, for years under different managements, first Cofiroute then the county. He was also for a while deputy director of operations at the Orange County Transportation Corridors Agencies.

At Cofiroute he sent to Minnesota to help set up their dynamically priced express lanes system on MN/I-394, the congested radial west out of the Minneapolis area.

He went into business development (new projects) at Raytheon HTMS and was involved in the VA/I-495 Express Lanes development, soon to come on line under Transurban ownership. He was recruited from there by FSTech.

Years ago Ramirez was project manager for a non-toll transponder/reader project at McDonald's in a setup in which hungry motorists could drive through and pick up a burger cashless.

Ramirez has bachelors and masters degrees in management, finance and marketing from  California State University, Long Beach.


Mike Leahy came from the large LAMTC bus transit system to director of  operations at the Transportation Corridors Agencies in Orange County California in the mid-1990s.


Bill Duffy was one of the early VESystems guys and was prominent in FSTech's back office work.  

BACKGROUND: FSTech which was formed in March 2010 has sales of about $100m/year, about 500 employees and has primary facilities in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan,Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Hong Kong, Dubai and the UK.

Federal Signal earlier this year decided its Technologies division wasn't working for it and found the buyer 3M, which is paying $110m for the unit.

3M is huge in license plate technology - quipped as Mark 1 Eyeball ID - developing, refining, selling and supporting most of the materials and machinery for license plates issued by the vast majority of state motor vehicle administrations (MVAs) in the US and very many of their equivalents internationally.

on Manfred Rietsch's USMC career:


on FSTech buy of VESystems


on 3M buy of FSTech:


TOLLROADSnews 2012-09-01

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