David Rowe

  • BS Biological Sciences 1984
  • BS Business Administration 1991
David Rowe earned two degrees from Michigan Tech and is doubly grateful for having them.

He earned a bachelor's degree in biological sciences in 1984 and went on to medical school for a few years. Later, he realized business was his passion and came back to Michigan Tech in 1991 for a business degree, in preparation for an MBA in finance from Michigan State University in 1992. He says his education honed fine analytical skills that have served him well. "Michigan Tech taught me to be a critical thinker."

Rowe was born and raised in Calumet. His father, the late Ken Rowe, was a physician, and he started out following his father's footsteps but soon realized "that wasn't where my heart was." Rather, he was fascinated with the world of finance, the stock market, and entrepreneurial endeavors, including two of his own: a log home construction business and a sailboard business.

These days, he manages one of the largest groups of flooring distribution businesses in the nation. Over the last fourteen years, he has expanded three companies with thirty employees in three locations, to six companies with 170 employees in thirteen locations. He has served on various industry association committees and held the office of president of the National Association of Floor Covering Distributors.

His wife Mary, a native of Wisconsin, graduated from Tech in 1992 with a degree in business and is a CPA. They have three children and live in Dollar Bay, although Rowe travels weekly throughout the country, and occasionally worldwide, on business.

His father, who believed higher education was a key differentiator in a person's life, was a member of the Michigan Tech Board of Control for eight years. In memory of his father, Rowe established a scholarship fund at Tech for students studying pre-medicine. "Mary and I want to afford talented local students the opportunity to pursue their dreams," he says.

He recalls his own time at Tech fondly, in particular his service as an athletic trainer for both football and hockey. He is proud to have accompanied the hockey team on its last trip to the NCAA final four in 1981.

He attributes his success to "hard work and stubbornness." He is undaunted in the face of challenge. "I thrive when the competition underestimates me, or the extent to which I am willing to work to overcome a challenge," he says.
He underscores that capability with this simple mantra, which was instilled by his father: "Always treat people with respect."

He joined the Tech Fund's Board of Trustees in 2007 and is dedicated to the proposition that "a degree from Michigan Tech is more valuable today than it was twenty years ago, and it is my goal to have the degree be more valuable twenty years from now than it is today." He believes that a degree from Tech signifies much more than the successful navigation of a difficult curriculum. "As a trustee," he says, "I work with some exceptional individuals and appreciate the contributions of key donors, faculty, administrators, and staff to make the University a leading institution of higher education."

He is an unabashed champion of Michigan Tech. Besides a pillar of educational excellence, Rowe says that Tech is also a regional economic, social, and cultural force - the greatest and most enduring heritage of the copper mining era. "Think of what this area would be without Michigan Tech," he suggests. "It's a fantastic resource - one of the seeds the mining era left behind that is of exceptional value. We have the obligation to nurture that seed, enhance the University's viability, and make it even more relevant in the future."


Excerpted from Trustee Link, Michigan Tech Fund/Spring 2009