College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management Recipients
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award
JAMES D. O'ROURKE, BUS AD '87
When Jim received the keys to the A&A Manufacturing Co. shop at age 16, he says it was the best gift he’s ever received. Now, Jim is chairman of the company, where he is a third-generation employee. He more than tripled company sales from 1990–2000 and holds several U.S. patents.
A&A manufactures machine tool accessories, fabricated metal and rubber products, and custom-engineered protective covers. Jim joined the company in 1987 as a sales representative in the mid-Atlantic states and returned in 1990 to its headquarters in New Berlin, Wis., to lead the firm's cable and hose carrier division. Business skyrocketed.
“It’s great to be part of an organization that sets goals and then excels as a team or individually,” he says. “The energy that comes from this is what propels successful organizations.”
In 2000, Jim's father Jerry retired, paving the way for Jim to assume the role of company president. He oversaw many organizational changes during his early tenure, including the departure of several long-term employees. The collapse of the machine tool industry in 2002 forced many changes in the business, so Jim directed significant resources toward product development to diversify A&A's offerings. Also during that time, the company launched and completed ISO 9000 and a company-wide Lean initiative.
Because of corporate and shareholder needs, Jim oversaw the sale of the family business in 2007 but continues to maintain significant ownership interests.
“I live the Marquette mission by trying to keep a humble servant attitude, always remembering that you’re probably not as good or bad as you think,” he says.
He serves on the board of directors of the Gustave A. Larson Co. and is a member of the Marquette University Board of Trustees.