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AZZ follows CEO’s lead, funds scholarship

Between 1988, when David H. Dingus joined AZZ Incorporated, and his untimely death in October 2013, he had become the firm’s chief executive officer and transformed the U.S.-based company into an international supplier and global leader of electrical products and services and the largest hot dip galvanizer in North America. Annual revenues had increased from $80 million to more than $840 million, with market capitalization of more than $1 billion.

Portrait of David Dingus.

David H. Dingus served as AZZ Incorporated’s CEO until his death in October 2013. Since 2010, the company has worked with the College of Engineering, recruiting at career fairs and hosting students on industrial visits. Shortly after Dingus’ death, the company formalized a $10,000 scholarship in his name, which will benefit upperclassmen undergraduates studying electrical engineering.

Forbes has named AZZ one of America’s Best Small Companies three times in the last four years.

Dingus knew the power business, but also recognized that his talented, well-trained employees had played an equally important role in AZZ’s success.

“David would often say that the company has experienced unprecedented growth and profitability, but those accomplishments would never have been achievable without the hard work and dedication of the employees. He truly felt that it was the people that made AZZ special,” said Michael Ryan, general manager of the switchgear systems division for AZZ in Fulton, Mo.

“Our people, and the development of the next generation of AZZ leaders, also drove David to support university relations,” he added.

Portrait of Mike Ryan.

Mike Ryan is AZZ Incorporated’s switchgear systems division general manager. He also is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department’s Industrial Advisory Board. He said Dingus’ drive to develop the next generation of engineers was one of many reasons the company decided to name its scholarship in memory of Dingus.

In 2010, the AZZ division located in Fulton — formerly known as Central Electric — reached out to the University of Missouri College of Engineering. Company reps began attending career fairs and hosted visits by MU engineering students to their Fulton facility.

Pleased by the company’s associations with the College of Engineering, Dingus encouraged his Fulton team to deepen the relationship and, among other initiatives, started paperwork to develop a scholarship to support students looking to build careers in the power industry.

“We live in the medium and high voltage world and wanted to focus our energies directly on helping the industry by putting more engineers into power segments,” said Ryan of Dingus’ decision.

In 2012, AZZ also began participating in the college’s IEEE meetings and its freshman job shadow event. They began a summer internship program and Ryan became a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department’s Industrial Advisory Board, building on their relationship to the college.

Last fall, just before AZZ formalized the $10,000 scholarship, Dingus lost a hard-fought battle to pancreatic cancer.

“Everyone involved felt strongly that we memorialize David’s vision and achievements by adding his name to our scholarship,” Ryan said.

The AZZ David H. Dingus Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to junior or senior electrical engineering students focused on the department’s power track beginning in the Fall 2014 semester.

“Since we’re local, we can build a relationship with those students — meet them and have them learn about our operation,” said Ryan, adding that he looks forward to the attending the college’s scholarship dinner.

“David wanted this scholarship to be impactful to the students and to benefit companies in the power segment by bringing more attention and great talent into this important business segment,” said Ryan. “If these students come to work for us, great. If someone else benefits, it still helps the industry by adding more graduates into power engineering.

“AZZ’s vision is to help build a world where infrastructure is corrosion-free and power generation, transmission and distribution are inherently safe, reliable, sustainable and efficient,” said Ryan. “We would like to build on this vision, and support the University of Missouri in developing talented, technologically advanced engineering graduates who will solve application specific problems for years to come.”

MU is one of only three universities that AZZ has chosen for this level of commitment, and is the first with a formal scholarship in place. The others are Georgia Tech and Texas A&M, both located close to other AZZ divisions.