THE HISTORY OF THE ROWE SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION
After working in the mining industry for a number of years , and after having redundancy forced on them in 1986 when the world price of nickel went below $2US/ pound, Reg and Margaret Rowe founded the Rowe Scientific company in 1987. The mission of the company was to assist scientific people , and particularly those in remote areas, to source the scientific items they need in their everyday laboratory work. In the early 1980’s, service to the Australian scientific industry had declined to a low ebb.
With more and more scientific people finding their way to Rowe Scientific, the company continued to employ additional staff, and grow across Australia, so as at the time of writing, it now has over 100 people, with offices and warehouses in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
As time went by, the question of succession was increasingly being raised by the loyal staff of Rowe Scientific, who shared the company value of helping Australia by helping to support its scientists with their supply needs, and wanted a secure long term future. Reg and Margaret had met relatively late in life, and no children as successors had eventuated.
Selling the company was investigated, but it was soon realised that the only potential buyers would be the large overseas owned multi nationals, which had already bought up most of the scientific companies in Australia by that time. These were New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) based companies, whose primary objective, understandably, was to make a profit for their overseas shareholders, rather than to source products which Australian clients wanted.
Having been inspired by the social history of the Carl Zeiss Foundation (1), sole shareholder of Schott AG, (inventor of borosilicate glass in 1887-93, and now a global technology group, based in Germany), it was decided to incorporate a not- for- profit charitable foundation structure. A foundation structure would provide a vehicle to perpetuate the trusting relationship built up by Rowe Scientific staff with their clients over the preceding 35 years. Ownership of the assets of Rowe Scientific would be bequeathed to the foundation on Margaret and Reg’s passing. The foundation would be managed by a board of trustees (similar to a hospital or university), which will allow Rowe Scientific to remain in existence for 100+ years, or for as long as it provides value to its clients. The profits are cycled back into Australian science, similar in spirit to a farmers’ cooperative.
Realising that it would take some time to establish the foundation, it was decided to start donating to universities in 2015, and earlier to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Seeing as the revenue of Rowe Scientific comes from different industries and from different states, and in order to be fair, it was decided to distribute profits for prizes and scholarships, to the universities of each state, in proportion to the revenue generated in that state. Similarly, an attempt is made to support scholarships in subject areas which educate students who will graduate to work in industries which provide the revenue, so as to “give back” to the relevant society. Similarly, with overseas clients, the plan is to work with selected Australian universities to provide scholarships for overseas students, and thereby to give back to the countries from which they come. PNG and the Pacific are provided for via Queensland universities, while Asia and Africa/ Arabia are provided for by WA universities.
The board of directors of the foundation, will be charged with perpetuating Rowe Scientific Pty Ltd as a market leader in the Australian scientific community (refer www.rowe.com.au/what we do/why we are market leaders).
(1)Kappler D, Steiner J, Schott 1884 – 2009. From a Glass Laboratory to a Technology Group, Schott AG, Mainz. 2009.
As the founder, of Rowe Scientific Foundation Limited (ABN 13 654 621 164) (ACN 654 621 164) as trustee for Rowe Scientific Foundation (ABN 49 988 957 563), I’m pleased to advise that the Rowe Scientific Foundation is a not-for-profit, registered charity with the ACNC, and is endorsed as a public ancillary fund (PuAF) by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), to receive tax deductible gifts. The object of the Rowe Scientific Foundation is to advance Australian scientific education and research.
R J Rowe (B.App.Sci., MBA, C.Chem., FRACI)
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