Roger Underwood is a proud Iowa State alumnus from the class of 1980. After earning a degree in Agricultural Business, he worked in the ag chemical industry for two years before co-founding Becker Underwood, Inc. in 1982.
Under his leadership as CEO, Becker Underwood expanded from a single facility business to a multi-national corporation with operations in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Argentina and Australia. Following 23 years as CEO at Becker Underwood, Roger stepped back from daily operations in January 2006. The company was sold to BASF in 2012.
As an Iowa State alumnus, Roger was active in forming the College of Agriculture Alumni Association, serving as its second president and founding member. In 1996, Roger was named Outstanding Agribusiness Alumni of the Year by the ISU Ag Business Club, and was named Order of the Knoll Outstanding Young Alumni in 2000, and in 2008 received the Floyd Andre Award for outstanding accomplishments in business and service to the College. Roger is a Board Member of the ISU Foundation Board of Governors, and also serves the Crop Life American Foundation, Ames Seed Capital, and the College of Ag Deans advisory committee.
In the private sector, Roger serves on the Board of Directors for Kent Corporation and Albaugh, LLC. He is also a private investor for start-up agricultural businesses.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
“Creating tomorrow” is what I think of when I coach entrepreneurship to students. While many are happy to work for someone else and execute their business plan—I think of making my own business plan and walking my own path with something I have created. There is no “right way” to create value in the market place—meaning working for someone else is not only honorable, it is a good decision for many to walk down that path. Tomorrow can be better however, if certain students create their own product, service, or idea and embrace it in the market place. Creating tomorrow can be rewarding and valuable!
Why should students engage in AgEI activities?
The Ag Entrepreneurship program can be a warm and inviting place for those who want to create their own path. The mentorship a student can receive and the excitement they can add to the program through their ideas and energy can create a symbiotic opportunity to grow and emerge a business leader creating wealth for oneself and others around you. Meeting successful entrepreneurs and challenging others with new ideas, new products, and new opportunities can be the most invigorating parts of any college experience.