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Trailblazing Badger: Pepin County

Whether he’s piloting a successful pharmaceutical and medical-device company, raising wild mustangs, or chipping in to help prepare mechanical engineers for the future, Andy Rensink ’79 relies on his UW–Madison education.

July 22, 2016
Andy Rensink and horse

“What you learn are problem-solving skills and how to break down problems into their fundamentals and work to fix them,” says Rensink, president of Tapemark in West Saint Paul, Minnesota, and a 1979 UW–Madison mechanical engineering graduate.

“My education taught me how to be good at whatever you want to be good at,” he adds.

Rensink is winding up a 16-year stint on the UW–Madison Mechanical Engineering Board of Advisors, which helped to guide the $50.5 million renovation of the Mechanical Engineering Building, rebuild the department’s curriculum, and sharpen its focus on education and careers.

Rensink grew up in Janesville, where he often spent time on the job with his father, who directed operations at an assembly-automation firm. After graduation, he worked at General Electric, helped fluid-purification firm Osmonics expand sales from $40 million to $200 million, and then helped water-filtration firm Pentapure boost sales from $3 million to $44 million before joining Tapemark.

It was that entrepreneurial spirit that I learned at Madison.

Rensink’s UW–Madison education taught him the value of entrepreneurship.

“I enjoy working with people, building small organizations, and getting them to grow significantly. When they get big enough, it’s time to start anew,” he says. “It was that entrepreneurial spirit that I learned at Madison.”

Rensink and his wife, Shirley, raise collies and Kiger mustangs on 180 acres overlooking Lake Pepin near the tiny community of Stockholm, Wisconsin. They often do demonstrations at the Pepin County Fair and hold clinics on positive-reinforcement techniques for training animals at their place on Deer Island.

And, because of its proximity to Wisconsin, Rensink employs many workers from the Badger State at Tapemark.

“We have a strong contingent of Wisconsinites here,” says Rensink. “We’re always going back and forth between Vikings fans and Packers fans.”

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