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Looking for new opportunities in retirement? Mike Morrow tells us why college towns are the best place to find them
Industry Matters Newsletter
Mike Morrow, Owner, MBG Associates LLC
Mike Morrow, Owner, MBG Associates LLC

Mike Morrow received a BS from the Michigan State University College of Social Science in 1972, and is currently the owner of MBG Associates LLC, a business development consulting firm in the rubber industry. He grew up in the Rubber Industry, starting with the family manufacturing business, and has a lifetime of service, emphasizing advance planning and organization. He has a proven record in identifying target markets, creating and initiating corporate strategies and relationships. 

Mike was published as "An Agent Who Turns Things Around" in the lead article of the October, 1988 issue of Agency Sales magazine by the Manufacturer's Agents National Association. He also appeared on Michael Patrick Shiels’ Michigan Big Show on TV Fox 47, and broadcast on radio across the State of Michigan in October 2012, to discuss “The New Retirement.”

Mike and his wife, Midge, have a long history of volunteer service to their Alma Mater, Michigan State University, and at Homecoming 2017 were honored with MSU Alumni Association Grand Awards Medals, of which there have been fewer than 600 presented since the end of World War II.   

Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?

I have one foot in retirement now because I still have one customer for whom I have been working on a transition of a major product line to one of their current suppliers. This should be complete over the next 6-8 months. So, my official retirement date is July 8, 2022, which is the 50th Anniversary of my first full day of work in the Rubber Industry in our family business (although I subbed every summer as early as my freshman year in High School in 1964 when our secretary took two weeks’ vacation). It is also the 70th Anniversary of when my dad became involved in the Rubber Industry in which I grew up. I can’t think of a better tribute to his legacy.

How was the transition from the working world to retirement?

It has allowed me to stay involved a little bit in the industry in which I have spent my whole life. I am reminded of my parents’ generation, who would work until retirement and then one day they didn’t go to work. It just stopped. My bridge to retirement has been good.  

Looking back, what do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired? 

My wife and I actually started talking retirement when we were in our early 50’s. We discussed things like where we wanted to end up, because it would take many years to unwind our lives in preparation for where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. So, we really had a pretty good idea of what our retirement would hold. There have been some changes to the plan and pathway, but each was able to be navigated efficiently because of our plan.  

What do you enjoy most about being retired?

My wife and I have always been volunteers to many different organizations. We have met people and participated in events that we never would have been exposed to in an employment situation. In the greater amount of free time we now have, we devote even more volunteer hours to those organizations, their programs, and their people. We have been able to use our career backgrounds to be active parts of the organizations in which we serve.

How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree?

As already mentioned, I still have one customer for whom I have been working on a transition of a major product line to one of their current suppliers. I still subscribe to the trade journals and attend events and keep in touch with friends I have made in my career. I finished my term as Chair of the Rubber Division ACS in December 2019, so I still connect with some of the staff there in Akron.

What do you like most about where you are living in retirement? What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live? 

We wouldn’t change anything about where we live; it was the result of our discussions in our early 50’s about where we wanted to end up. We live in East Lansing, Michigan, home of Michigan State University. My wife and I have both volunteered with the University since the early 1980’s, and we met here in 1969. We have both been able to utilize our careers and degrees in a myriad of ways over the years, and because of our home here, we can participate where and when needed. Because of our involvement going back to the early 1980’s, we were both honored with MSU Alumni Grand Awards for Service in 2017. There have been fewer than 600 of these awards given since the end of World War II, and we were both honored and humbled to receive them. A couple of our fellow classmates in 2017 were Earvin (Magic) and Cookie Johnson, as well as Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha, the MSU Pediatric Outreach Doctor who discovered the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan children after the water supply there was changed. She was initially ignored but continued to fight until it was finally believed and recognized. Because of her, municipalities around the world have investigated their water supplies and found similar conditions. She has saved untold thousands because of her fight.

What advice do you have for people who are getting ready to retire?

Planning and organization are critical for the retirement years. Start thinking and talking early about where you want to end up. Volunteering is critical to be active, so be involved early in volunteer organizations so you can continue to be active with them after your career winds down. And lastly, find a good college town. The diversity in people, activities and events is wonderful, and as a result, there are outstanding opportunities to be a part of it. If you can’t find something to do in a college town, you aren’t looking.

Copyright 2021 American Chemical Society (All Rights Reserved)

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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