Building a Relationship
A leading construction executive and alumnus keeps his connection to campus through the students he employs.
Howard Rowland ’76, president of EW Howell Construction Group and member of the Farmingdale College Foundation Board of Directors, has had brick and mortar in his blood since childhood.
“As a kid I would sit there for hours watching construction sites,” Rowland says. “It always fascinated me. Then I took some drafting classes in high school and I got hooked.”
It was that fascination for building that brought Rowland to the College in 1974, when it was still an associate degree institution. He studied Construction Technology, and though he later transferred to obtain his architecture degree, he says it was what he learned at FSC that helped propel him into a career in construction.
“I got a lot out of Farmingdale. I enjoyed the nuts and bolts aspect of Farmingdale. It laid the foundation for my career.”
Now EW Howell, the company, is getting a lot out of Farmingdale, too. Several members of the executive and management teams are graduates of the School of Engineering Technology, and former students dot the ranks of the company up and down the food chain.
“We really look to Farmingdale as a solid force for employees,” says Rowland. “Now that it’s a four-year school, Farmingdale gets these guys to a point where they’re prepared to come in and expand their education through some hands-on stuff here.
“It’s worked out great. I can’t think of one person that’s disappointed us.”
Neither has EW Howell disappointed FSC. According to Architecture and Construction Management Department Chair Orla Lo Piccolo, the company — and Rowland in particular — have extended a helping hand to FSC students in the program.
“Howard was appreciative that I reconnected with EW Howell for field trip visits to their building sites. They have been most gracious hosts — giving excellent tours, having question-and-answer sessions, offering students advice, and providing lunch.”
“I know that if that was available when I was in school, I would have done backflips,” says Rowland, who became president of EW Howell in 1997.
The company, with a 200-member workforce, is one of the most versatile in the New York area, where it regularly ranks in the Top 12 among commercial contractors. It is also the largest builder of its kind on Long Island. EW Howell has done work on the FSC campus, including Broad Hollow Bioscience Park and a 2011 complete renovation of Hale Hall.
The work was done through its Education Division, one of five divisions that also include Arts & Culture, Healthcare, Retail, and Special Projects.
“Our diversity is the thing that separates us from everybody else,” Rowland says.
Another thing that helps the company stand apart is its philosophy of growing from within.
“That’s why Farmingdale works for us,” says Rowland. “We get the students indoctrinated into the way we do things, and without exception most of them grow up in the firm.”