Rich Beattie remembers fondly his days as a student at Gannon University and credits his undergraduate days, as well as his time spent with the Pike fraternity, for helping to instill the importance of leadership.
In fact, Rich remembers being at the Pike house on West 7th Street when a buddy phoned-in from the Marine Corps Reserve headquarters in Erie. “You’d better get down here right away.” Rich asked, “Why?”
“Turn on the TV.”
Desert Storm was a “go” and Rich found himself quickly overseas as a member of the ground invasion force. His posts for the next several months were remote fighting holes in the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti deserts. The endless boredom of waiting in his hole was broken up often by the letters and packages he received from his friends and fraternity brothers back at Gannon. “The support I received while deployed from my fraternity brothers, friends, and the university is something that I have never forgotten.”
Perseverance and leadership were qualities learned quickly while serving his country and applied in the business world. Beattie’s company, “MEC²”, is a construction and engineering firm in Baltimore with clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. One of the very first projects for his young company involved the design and construction of protective systems for government installation – including the Pentagon – following 9/11.
The company currently has sales in excess of $30 million dollars and employs over 150 workers. In 2010, Beattie’s company was named by Baltimore’s “SmartCEO Magazine” as the fastest growing firm in the publication’s Future 50 edition. He was also chosen to be a member of their “2011 Smart100 Business Leaders.” MEC2’s projects have been recognized seven times by the Associated Builders and Contractors with an “Award of Excellence” for mechanical construction during the firm’s first 10 years in operation. But probably his proudest accomplishment has been his involvement with the STRIVE program which provides attitudinal training, job placement and post-placement support for men from Baltimore City. STRIVE’s goal is to provide a second chance for men and women who have overcome substance abuse, incarceration, or have simply fallen through society’s safety nets. It is a “hand-up” not a “hand-out” program. The program works through Baltimore’s Center for Urban Families (CFUF) and acts as a “pre-employment screening service at MEC2,” Mr. Beattie noted with enthusiasm. “When CFUF tells me a graduate is ready for a second chance, I know he’s ready.”
MEC2 employs skilled craftsmen – HVAC technicians, plumbers, pipefitters – teaching them technical skills in-house and through a formal apprenticeship program. For entry-level hires, soft skills like timeliness, a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic are vital. These traits are much more difficult to screen for and that’s why CFUF has proven to be a valuable partner.
“African American males from Baltimore City face many hurdles in their search for a career. This is especially true for men with criminal backgrounds,” Mr. Beattie said. “STRIVE is our answer to addressing that hurdle.”
Today, STRIVE graduates employed by MEC2 have a 70 percent retention rate (compared to 30 percent for non-STRIVE graduates). Out of the nine currently employed there, four graduates have completed trade school, increasing their wages from $13 to more than $24 per hour. The STRIVE graduates continue to be involved with the CFUF, acting as mentors to both new STRIVE employees at MEC2 and recent STRIVE graduates through CFUF’s Alumni program.
Last year, Beattie was invited by CFUF to sit down with President Obama and outline the successes of this inner-city initiative. He has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Gannon University and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix. In his spare time, Rich enjoys exercising and has completed multiple marathons, triathlons, and one Ironman race. He and his wife have three children and live in the Baltimore area.
(Published May 2014)