ALUMNI NEWS: Distinguished Achievement Award Recipient Jim Berbee
t this year’s Engineers Day, James Berbee was one of nine UW-Madison engineering alumni to receive the college’s Distinguished Achievement Award. Long before most people had even heard of the Internet, Berbee recognized the potential of computer networks and information technology to transform business. In 1993, fueled by his vision and a willingness to take risks, he left his position as an IBM systems engineer to start Berbee Information Networks Corporation in his basement. Within a year, the company had established its renowned partnership with catalog retailer Lands’ End.
Today, just a decade later, it has become a top provider of hosted computing, network consulting, data storage and other e-business services, with more than 700 staff, offices in 11 Midwest cities and customers throughout the country. Berbee has also developed partnerships with many leading information technology companies including Microsoft, Cisco and IBM.
Equal to Berbee’s business success is his commitment to community service and charitable giving. His company is a major contributor to the United Way of Dane County, on whose board of directors Berbee has served since 2000. It also supports many other organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the Madison Opera, the Madison Art Center, and the Wisconsin AIDS Ride. In November 2004, the company held its first “Berbee Derby” running race, a charity event that raised $30,000 to benefit Berbee’s Technology Education Foundation.
Berbee holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering and a MBA in finance from UW-Madison. He maintains close ties to the university, currently serving on the UW Foundation Board of Directors and the Chancellor’s Board of Advisors.
Berbee is also a four-time Ironman triathlete, a multi-engine pilot, and an avid traveler and hiker. He and his wife Karen Walsh live in Madison with four of their own cats and usually several foster felines.