Richard Berry

Richard Berry
  • BS Chemical Engineering 1950
In spotlighting interesting, distinguished alumni, one would be remiss to leave out Richard "Dick" Berry, a Michigan Tech chemical engineering graduate from 1950. Berry, a native of London, Ont., among his numerous lifetime achievements, has managed a business with approximately $3.1 million annual revenue and has traveled to 27 countries on all seven continents.

Berry's entrepreneurial and traveling ambitions were fostered as a young child. His father became the vice president of Michigan Bell Telephone out of Detroit, and his family traveled often, including a trip to Mexico when he was five years old. On this trip, and the four other trips he took to Mexico with his family, he picked up an interest in photography, another interest he shared with his father who was also an amateur photographer.

During his high school days, Berry became very active in ROTC, ultimately becoming city commander during his senior year and earning an appointment to West Point. He passed that up to attend a small technical college in Detroit before transferring to Michigan Tech where he earned his chemical engineering degree in 3.5 years, aided by taking summer classes each year.

Berry went to summer ROTC camp near Baltimore following his graduation in June of 1950. During that summer, President Truman ordered troops to Korea, and Berry was among them. He took part in the Second Inchon Harbor landing, and of 125 men with him, 60 died. He was the only officer left.

While it was a difficult time to overcome, Berry overcame it and returned to the United States where he earned a job at Shell Chemical. He worked his way up to a supervisor position where, with his chemical engineering degree, he earned a great deal of authority. "If Tech is noted for one thing in the engineering profession, it's that they can hire you and put you right to work instead of putting you in a training program," said Berry.

Berry eventually ended up working for Exxon where he worked as coordinator of chemical plants cleanup just at the time when environmental concerns entered the forefront of national news. He worked on numerous projects as project manager including a unique project that resulted in the production of the first zero-gravity toilet. This allowed him to work with NASA and major astronauts such as John Glenn.

Berry used his wealth of experience to establish a company called Rembco. The business celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007 and now brings in more than $3 million a year. The business, which specializes in ground stabilization, works all over the country and in parts of Canada.

As Berry neared retirement age, he transitioned the ownership of the company to his son-in-law. He still plays a major role consulting in the company, but he wanted to make time to fulfill his other life ambition - traveling.

Berry's extensive travels include trips to Japan, Nepal, Iran, China, Pakistan, Greece, Egypt, Australia and Antarctica. Among his many travel highlights, he has climbed many mountains including Kilimanjaro and a mountain in the Khumbu Valley near Mount Everest, and he performed a geology study on Antarctica.

Berry continues to be active in his industry, but he has clearly been very active pursuing his many hobbies which include writing, skiing and photography. He is also very passionate about finding alternative energy sources and making disaster response more efficient. He has been working on an autobiography, and, while he believes he will never publish it, this article shows that he has plenty to write about.

Berry notes that speaking and writing abilities are crucial for college graduates as they enter the workforce. He offered some additional advice for students: "Never do something you don't want to do for very long ... and always look at everything from an alternative viewpoint."

Berry is currently preparing for yet another trip, this one to Mexico. It is that Dick Berry is a successful alumni, and with his advice and a Michigan Tech degree, it is obvious that a Tech student may truly pursue whatever they like, whether it be visiting Antarctica, inventing a zero-gravity toilet or becoming successful in his or her chosen field.


by Stephen Anderson, reprinted from the Michigan Tech Lode (2-05-08)