Joe Lowry, PE, joined the Encorus team twenty years ago this month. He has worn many hats over the years, first as an AutoCAD drafter, then as a mechanical engineer, and is currently the President of the company. Let’s get to know him a little better!
How did you get started in your career?
My path to becoming the President of Encorus has been a meandering one.
When I was 16 I started working part-time after school as an AutoCAD drafter. The founder of RJR Engineering (now called Encorus Group) hired me through the recommendation of a high school teacher because I knew how to use AutoCAD.
Throughout college I had quite a few jobs: facilities cleaner, warehouse stocker, tutor, ceramics glazer, and pool salesman. I was also invited back to RJR Engineering during summer breaks to do my co-ops as a drafter and junior engineer.
After I graduated with an engineering degree, I was hired as a full-time mechanical engineer. I like knowing a little bit about everything, so I also took the opportunity to briefly work with a land surveying firm, and became a survey rodman through the local Operating Engineers union. I was grateful for the experience but ultimately went back to being a mechanical engineer and project manager. I was able to work on very interesting projects with a lot of extremely talented people, and enjoyed being given a high level of responsibility for getting things done. Around this time I also joined the Army National Guard and spent six years as a part-time All-Source Intelligence Analyst, while continuing to work as an engineer.
Eventually I had enough experience to become a licensed Professional Engineer. Soon after becoming licensed, when I was about 27 years old, I made a pitch to the current President of the company. I told him that I would like the opportunity to purchase his portion of the company and take over as President. We came to an agreement and carefully made the transition, knowing that only 30% of small businesses survive their first change in ownership. Since that time the company has evolved quite a bit, and my role has changed from being a technical engineer to a strategic CEO type of position.
So, I guess you can say that many things led me to, and also away from, Encorus as I had the flexibility to try new things.
Have you had a mentor in your career, and what have you learned from them?
I have had a lot of obvious mentors in my lifetime, but I can think of one person that I didn’t appreciate as being one until reflecting on it many years later.
When I was about 10 years old, I was enrolled in karate classes for a few years. When I started, I was a very small kid. Not very athletic, and without much self-confidence. On the first day a man named Arthur, or “Art” as I called him, was helping teach the class. For some reason he took me under his wing and patiently spent a lot of extra one-on-one time with me to make sure I understood the WHY behind everything we learned. He taught me discipline through repetition. He did a great job of meeting me where I was, and challenged me without overwhelming.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the greatest thing I learned from Art was the importance and power of relying on yourself. Since that experience I’ve become a very self-motivated and self-confident person. I know the value of having a good team, but I also believe in my own ability to find a way through any challenge.
Recommend a great book / podcast / movie / TV show.
I just finished rereading the “Lightbringer” book series [by Brent Weeks]. If you enjoy fantasy stories with a strong connection to the real world, it will blow your mind with all of the tangled intricacies.
The book “The Way of a Peaceful Warrior” [by Dan Millman] also resonated with me. It’s a semi-fictional story full of life lessons to be extrapolated; and a very easy read.
What are three words that describe your personality?
Growth-oriented, curious, and open-minded.
What was your first paying job, and would you go back to it if you could?
I’ve had a lot of different jobs, but I would consider my first to be mowing lawns for neighbors when I was about 13 or 14 years old.
It started with push mowing my own lawn, then my Grandma’s down the street. Eventually I added four more neighboring lawns, and had the start of a lawn mowing enterprise.
I still really enjoy mowing my own lawn so I could see a scenario where I went back to that later in life. It’s one of those everyday tasks that can be as complex, or as simple, as you want it to be. Whenever I get done mowing the lawn it’s a satisfying “ahhh” type of moment. There are also power tools involved, which never hurts.