Marketing, mining, and land stewardship.
Marty Richardson '79
Marketing Maverick and Sailing Enthusiast
Anchors aweigh, steady as she goes, and full speed ahead! These have been the hallmarks of Martha (Marty) Kresnak Richardson’s career. An expert in marketing and a sailing enthusiast, Richardson’s connection with Michigan Tech came about in a less traditional way. “I was actually the first professional that Michigan Tech ever hired to serve in a marketing capacity,” recalls Richardson, who first arrived at Tech in 1976 with a bachelor’s in communication arts from Michigan State. Her commitment to Tech remains strong, now as chair of the Board of Control.
While employed by Tech, Richardson pursued a master’s degree in the School of Business and Economics with a specialty in marketing. “Most of the students were engineers wanting to get more of a business acumen. So, I was a bit different from the usual student at that time. I worked full time and still managed a pretty heavy course load.” After graduating, Richardson found that women with a master’s in business were rare commodities. She was offered a number of great opportunities and chose to work for the international accounting and consulting firm Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) in the Detroit area.
This began a ten-year career with a variety of positions of ever-increasing responsibility. From marketing supervisor to marketing manager to marketing director, Richardson saw many different facets of the company. “I traveled across the country, working with top management for their ninety-eight offices. I really learned a lot—certainly a big expansion of my master’s education.”
While enjoying her work with Coopers and Lybrand, Richardson dreamed of starting her own business. The best advice she received was from another woman entrepreneur in New York where Richardson had an office at the time. Richardson recalls, “She said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? This is going to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done.’ And she was right. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But, I’m proud of it and really wouldn’t change a thing.”
Richardson’s business, founded in 1989, was Services Marketing Specialists (SMS), a consulting firm providing full-service marketing and communications support to professional service firms and business-to-business organizations. Ironically, her first client was Coopers and Lybrand. Her portfolio grew into several hundred clients across the US and Canada, including those specializing in accounting, architecture, engineering, law, and health care.
However, another dream was waiting in the wings, or rather at the dock, for Richardson and her husband, Jerry, a former engineering manager for General Motors. Since leaving Detroit in September 2007, the Richardsons have logged nearly 12,000 nautical miles on a fifty-two foot trawler they named Monarch. They have traveled up and down the Atlantic Coast, to the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas. “We named our boat Monarch because she goes from Ontario and northern Michigan all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico just like the monarch butterfly,” says Richardson.
According to Richardson, after college it is important to find the right job, save prudently, and never give up on your dreams. “It’s surprising we’ve become so successful with such simple advice. Although not always easy, you just have to keep your eye on your vision and persevere. I can look back and say, ‘If it hadn’t been for my company and the good salaries our employees made, where would they be now?’ It feels good to know we made a difference.”
Making a difference continues to be a part of Richardson’s life. She has been a board member or officer of numerous professional and community organizations, including the Greater Detroit Foreign Trade Zone, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Women’s Economic Club of Detroit, International Institute of Detroit, Leadership Detroit, and the National Association of Women Business Owners. In 2002, she was named to the Crain’s Detroit “Most Influential Women” list.
“[Starting my own business] was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But, I’m proud of it and really wouldn’t change a thing.”
Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed her to the Michigan Tech Board of Control in 2005. In July 2010, she took over the leadership of the Board.
“It was a real honor to be appointed to the Board of Control, and serving on it is a wonderful experience,” says Richardson. “The board is populated by extraordinarily intelligent and savvy people. They are all so competent in their areas and have such a deep love for the University and commitment to its interests.”
Richardson is also enthusiastic about the new MBA programs, especially the Tech MBA Online. “Who among our alums would not want an MBA from Tech? And if you can do it online around your schedule, it’s a real draw. It’s great knowing you can take the program at a set cost that you can budget for. And the quality—well, that just can’t be beat!”
Richardson is positive about the current goals for Tech. “Having a University-wide strategic plan is key. And, the School of Business and Economics plays an important part in the accomplishment of a number of University goals. The Board and administration are always focusing on how we can provide a world view for the students. Not only how to invent the technology but how to apply it to bettering mankind. The business school provides the critical link between technology and real-world applications.”
Steve Hicks '83
Building a Successful Career in the UP, Naturally
"Pure Michigan" is the slogan being used by the state to entice visitors to enjoy Michigan’s many treasures. “Pure UP” is the slogan that could easily be used to describe Steve Hicks and his meteoric rise through a UP company with global impact.
Hicks grew up in Iron Mountain. Always interested in the business world, he came to the School of Business and Economics in 1979 because “Tech was a regional school with an excellent reputation.”
Majoring in accounting, Hicks encountered many memorable experiences, including Professor Sam Tidwell of the red tie accounting fame. “He was an interesting and engaging man and it was always fun to be in his class.”
In addition to Tidwell, Hicks was impressed with the overall quality of all the professors and his business education. “The courses were serious, thorough, and solid. I graduated knowing I had a well-grounded foundation not only in accounting but in finance and economics as well.
This foundation and his own talent and drive soon landed Hicks a job with J. M. Longyear LLC in Marquette. Longyear is a natural resources company with 165,000 acres of commercial timberlands and a large portfolio of iron ore and other mineral rights in the upper Midwest and Ontario.
Hicks began in the accounting department of Longyear, then became vice president of finance, followed by chief operating officer. In 1999, he attended a concentrated residency program for global executives at the University of Michigan School of Business. In that same year, he became CEO of Longyear.
In the past five years, Hicks has led Longyear in more than $2 billion worth of projects, including a $1.5 billion steel mill and a $350 million cellulosic ethanol facility. Cellulosic ethanol is a biofuel produced from wood, grasses, and other plant materials. The steel mill, Essar Steel Minnesota, is expected to be operational in 2012 and is North America’s first iron mining through steel processing facility.
According to Hicks, Longyear is successful in a modern, global marketplace because the company continues to follow the principles that have guided the Longyear companies for more than a century: creating value, maximizing performance, leveraging opportunities, and encouraging sustainability.
Hick’s own personal strategy for success is simple. “In anybody’s career, you’re going to encounter adversity. I think it’s just a matter of working harder and working smarter. And having fun at what you do. I also had good mentors earlier in my career, people who ran global operations and were senior people in law firms.”
“I think it’s just a matter of working harder and working smarter. And having fun at what you do.”
Hick’s long career at Longyear has allowed him to remain in the UP. He has been married to his wife, Shelly, for fifteen years. They have two children: Ellie, age eleven, and Collin, age eight. Living in Marquette, the family has been able to be involved in all the outdoor “Pure UP” things that Hicks loves, including hunting and downhill skiing.
Having an impact in the business world has not been enough for Hicks. He has also been a dedicated alum of Michigan Tech. Currently, he is serving on the Michigan Tech Board of Control and on the Board of Trustees of the Michigan Tech Fund, and, in the past, he was involved with the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science advisory board.
According to Hicks, “I wanted to serve on the Boards to give back and share my experiences and knowledge to assist the University in implementing its vision and strategy. It has been rewarding working with the dedicated men and women who serve on the Board. Clearly everyone whom I’ve been associated with in this tenure has had Michigan Tech’s best short-term and long-term interests in mind.”
Looking ahead, Hicks feels very positive about Michigan Tech’s future and the future of the School of Business and Economics.
“I’m very comfortable with Michigan Tech’s strategy. I think it’s the right strategy for the right time. Michigan Tech is involved with a lot of research and science that, given the current state of the world, will reach emerging markets. The School of Business and Economics has made strategic alignments across the University, taking an integral part in leading innovation to the next step of commercialization. Whether it is in freshwater studies or alternative energy or any other engineering or science disciplines, I’m confident that Tech will be able to help solve the world’s problems and make it better.”
Jim Trethewey ’67
A Different Route to Success
Taking "the road less traveled" takes courage, especially for a college student. Many students come to Michigan Tech for engineering, but an elective can lead to a different career path. Such is the story of Jim Trethewey.
Trethewey, from Ironwood, began as a mechanical engineering major. Then he took an accounting elective from Professor Sam Tidwell. Because he did well in the course, Tidwell encouraged him to change majors. After some soul-searching, Trethewey switched to accounting.
As an undergraduate, Trethewey was involved in Theta Tau fraternity and intramural sports. His academic achievements led to the honorary accounting fraternity Kappa Sigma Iota. “I made many good friends and liked the students’ work ethic,” says Trethewey. “And, in my career, it turned out to be a very good thing to have a mix of business and technical courses.”
After graduating, Trethewey accepted a position as an auditor for Copper Range, a copper mining concern. He next joined Cleveland-Cliffs (now Cliffs Natural Resources), an iron ore mining company in an exciting growth period, as a financial analyst in its Ishpeming office.
Cleveland-Cliffs offered Trethewey a wide variety of opportunities. From Ishpeming to Ontario to Cleveland, Trethewey worked in positions of increasing responsibility and became vice president-controller and chief accounting officer. Along the way, he also earned his MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College.
In his final years with Cliffs, Trethewey was senior vice president of business development and worked with the senior corporate team in reshaping the company, adding international experience to his career. He retired in 2007.
Looking back, Trethewey says, “A really good education is your ticket to opening up opportunities. When opportunities struck, I was well prepared to take advantage of them.”
Being open to different types of jobs within a company is helpful, as many newly learned skills could be transferred to other areas, he says. “Mobility is also important. Don’t tie yourself down to one location.”
Being involved in both professional and community organizations has also been important to Trethewey. He networked with professionals in the American Mining Association, the Society of Mining Engineers, and other industry groups that gave him a broader understanding of his field.
“I worked with community organizations such as United Way and currently serve on the boards of two charities,” says Trethewey. “I was always looking for ways to give back to society. It’s important to stay active in other things besides work so you can expand yourself.”
Trethewey credits a lot of his success to family support, especially from his wife, Dee. The couple divides their time among a winter home in Florida, a summer home in Chautauqua, New York, and a townhouse in Cleveland, where three of their five children and five of their eight grandchildren live.
Trethewey has found time in his busy retirement to continue giving back to Tech. In 1994, he began serving on the School of Business and Economics advisory board, and since 2009 he has served as a trustee of the Michigan Tech Fund.
“A really good education is your ticket to opening up opportunities. When opportunities struck, I was well prepared to take advantage of them.”
Trethewey reflects, “My newer role as a trustee lets me deal with the entire University. It gives me an opportunity to participate in activities with other devoted graduates who care where the University is going. We help raise funds for the University, network, and work to form corporate partnerships. These activities are important to maintain sound financial footing and ensure the University continues to advance.”
As an advisor to the School of Business and Economics, he has been involved in AACSB accreditation, which has been particularly gratifying for Trethewey. Providing input on curriculum and meeting with students and faculty have been valuable for him. He is excited about many School and University programs including the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) and Enterprise.
“I like that the School is getting involved directly with corporations and the hands-on nature of these programs,” he says. In addition, Trethewey has started two endowed scholarships for business students from Gogebic County. Other possible contributions are in the planning stages.
“The School of Business and Economics was my foundation, my beginning on the road to success,” he says. “So it’s really important for me to have a part in its growth. The current direction of the School is right on track. Being involved has given me the opportunity to have a voice in where the School is going and ensure it’s constantly getting better. And that’s very fulfilling.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.