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Texas A&M University marked a major milestone with the opening of the Mike and Beverly Rowlett Industrial Distribution Building. | Video: Texas A&M Engineering

Texas A&M University celebrated a significant milestone with a special grand opening ceremony to showcase the new state-of-the-art Mike and Beverly Rowlett Industrial Distribution Building.

Located at Texas A&M-RELLIS, the new facility was fully funded through industry partner donations and will serve as a central hub for industrial distribution research and education. It will be home to the Thomas and Joan Read Center for Distribution Research and Education, the only distribution-focused research center in the world, as well as the Global Supply Chain Laboratory and the Talent Incubator.

Wholesale distribution is a powerhouse in the United States economy and one of the largest sectors, with more than $7 trillion in sales. In Texas alone, over half a million people are employed in 24,000 wholesale trade companies. Texas has 33,380 wholesale businesses.

"I’m proud to say that Texas A&M is a real powerhouse in this industry,” said Texas A&M University System Regent Jay Graham ’92. “The Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution is revered and respected as one of the best in the nation. This program was built and continues to grow through the support of industry.”

Texas A&M Engineering has the largest industrial distribution program in the U.S. to conduct applied research and professional development.

“Over the years, the Industrial Distribution program has produced more than 6,500 graduates. Each has significantly contributed to the industry,” said John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “That industry — and their connection to A&M — is why we are here today, enjoying this beautiful new building.”

A group of people at a ribbon cutting event for the new Industrial Distribution Building
Officials celebrated the grand opening of the Mike and Beverly Rowlett Industrial Distribution Building at Texas A&M-RELLIS on Friday, Sept. 15. Shown above from left: Joe Elabd, Ph.D., Texas A&M Engineering Interim Vice Chancellor and Dean; John Sharp, Texas A&M University System Chancellor; Jay Graham ’92, Texas A&M University System Regent; Beverly Rowlett, Mike Rowlett, Dr. Barry Lawrence, program coordinator for Industrial Distribution and professor in the engineering technology and industrial distribution department; Tyson Voelkel, Texas A&M Foundation President; Peri Olson ’24, President of Professional Association for Industrial Distribution student organization; and Annie Valicek, Texas A&M University System Student Regent. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
The building features advanced teaching labs, meeting spaces and research labs dedicated to the Industrial Distribution (ID) program.

“The Mike and Beverly Rowlett Industrial Building is not just another brick-and-mortar structure. It embodies our shared vision for education’s collaboration with industry and the continued professional growth of our students,” said Dr. Joe Elabd, interim vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering. “This building is a testament to our dedication to the distribution field, an area of study of paramount importance in today’s ever-evolving industrial landscape.”

Established in 1956, the ID program at Texas A&M is one of the oldest and largest in the United States. It has produced over 6,500 graduates and has 910 undergraduate students enrolled this fall.

The ID program’s rapid growth and increasing sophistication of the distribution industry created the need for a large modern facility to continue its expansion and growth, while maintaining a high level of education for students. Students will use the building to collaborate with faculty and industry partners for capstone projects, tackling real-world challenges through innovative solutions.

What sets the ID program apart is its unique blend of engineering and business education. In addition to technical skills, students develop professional skills in problem-solving, team management and communication, which are vital to success in the distribution industry.