Armed with the hindsight of his father, Nick Andrews of Upper St. Clair had the foresight in 1977 to form Andrews Industrial Controls Inc. in Carnegie.
The company serves the industrial automation marketplace in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.
Mr. Andrews was recognized for his business success Jan. 16 when he was the recipient of the 2012 Penn State Beaver Outstanding Alumni Award at an on-campus dinner. The award, which was presented by Beaver chancellor Gary Keefer, is given on the basis of professional achievement, contributions to society and/or involvement with Penn State Beaver.
Upon learning of the award, Mr. Andrews said he was incredibly surprised and humbled.
"I was sort of taken aback by it," he said. "Knowing some of the people that have come through, I hope I can deliver to their expectations of somebody that receives this award."
Upon graduating from Penn State University in University Park, Mr. Andrews said he heeded the advice of his father, Harry, and became involved in their home parish of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland. Having worked with youth in the past, Mr. Andrews volunteered to help run their newly constructed community center. It was during monthly meetings with the parish council that Mr. Andrews said his first business opportunity arose.
A board member, who was also a friend of his father's, was looking for a young salesman and offered the job to Mr. Andrews.
"That's how it started," he said. "There was a little networking and it's been off to the races ever since."
Despite his dreams of entering into the real estate business, which he said came to a grinding halt when the interest rates went sky high in the late 1970s, he took the job as a straight commission salesman for industrial automation.
During this time his father, who was a Honeywell executive and had worked there for 40 years, planted the seed of entrepreneurship in him that quickly took root, Mr. Andrews said.
"He always said that if he ever had a chance, he'd have his own business," Mr. Andrews said. "He guided me quite a bit with that."
Armed with the encouragement of family and friends, he said he went to work building his business from the ground up. While it required a lot of hard work and effort, Mr. Andrews said he has enjoyed it every step of the way.
"I love this business," he said. "I don't see myself retiring. It's an interesting business and you're learning every day."
Mr. Andrews said he owes his success to Penn State, specifically the Beaver campus, which he said gave him a tremendously well-rounded education that he employs every day at his job.
"There was a lot of one-on-one help there that I needed when I first got out of high school," he said. "It was incredible the support I got from some of the professors. I still remember them and how much they helped me."
He's now paying it forward and has established an annual scholarship for Beaver campus students and has served as the president-elect of the Beaver campus Advisory Board since 2009.
In addition to his philanthropy, Mr. Andrews has coached and/or been the business manager for various hockey organizations in and around Pittsburgh. He served as president of the Pittsburgh Section Instrument Society of America, a coach and commissioner for the Mt. Lebanon Baseball Association and was director of athletics and a council member for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
He is also a member of the Presidents Club of the Penn State Smeal College of Business and serves on the board of directors of Pittsburgh's YMCA Camp T. Frank Soles.
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: email@example.com.