Alum earns college achievement award
n addition to two other alumni (featured in our fall 2007 issue), mechanical engineering alumnus Andrew Rensink was honored at the Engineers’ Day event on Oct. 26, 2007. The awards honor alumni who have made significant contributions to their field.
Distinguished Achievement Award: Andrew T. Rensink
President and COO, Tapemark Inc., West St. Paul, Minnesota (BS '79)
In 2004, while contemplating his next career move, Andrew Rensink and his wife, Shirley, embarked on an adventure akin to Huckleberry Finn’s. With their collies, Blues and Jazz, they boarded their 34-foot cruiser Galileo in New Orleans and traveled across the Gulf of Mexico to Mobile, Alabama. Then they pointed the bow north.
For three months, they followed rivers like watery highways as they made their way to Minneapolis. Each day, they completed about 50 miles, a pace that gave them time to dock and visit Civil War sites or explore small towns on bicycles that they stashed on the boat. As they traveled, usually at a speed of about 8 knots, Rensink considered his past and future engineering career.
He grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he often spent time on the job with his father, who directed operations at an assembly automation company. In 1979, Rensink graduated from UW-Madison with his mechanical engineering degree, then joined General Electric. For nearly a decade, he helped design and manufacture a range of products, from aircraft engines to appliances to CAT scan machines. At night, he studied with the General Electric education program, earning the equivalent of an MBA and a master of science in electrical engineering.
In 1991, Rensink joined Osmonics, a provider of fluid purification products. In 12 years, he helped Osmonics grow from $40 million to more than $200 million in annual sales. He then moved to Pentapure, a small water-filtration startup company. During Rensink’s four years as vice president of operations, Pentapure annual sales grew from $3 million to $44 million.
After Pentapure was sold, Rensink planned to take a year off work to explore rivers and spend time at his cabin on Lake Pepin in Minnesota. But when Galileo pulled into its final port, another opportunity quickly arose. He became president and CEO of Tapemark, a pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer that serves a number of Fortune 100 companies. Tapemark is privately held and Rensink was the first person hired from outside the 55-year-old company to direct the operation.
The Rensinks have two sons, both of whom have inherited their father’s creative mind and adventurous spirit. Matt, 25, is a carpenter in the Twin Cities. Tom, 24, is a UW-Madison physics graduate. Tom spent the last year teaching English in France and, in summer 2007, toured Europe. He chose a different method of travel from his dad, however: moving by bicycle, not boat.