This story is part of a series following University of Findlay alumni who have gone on to have meaningful lives and productive careers right here in the local Findlay community. Their stories provide a glimpse of the difference UF students and graduates make in the lives and businesses of our immediate area, and of the impact a UF education can have right here at home.
When it comes to University of Findlay’s Dan and Sam ’16 Yates, it’s a “family affair.”
The father and son duo have much in common beyond their biological bloodlines: among many other things, they have a passion for the world of education and business, they love to play golf, and, as of this semester, they both teach classes at UF.
The elder Yates, Dan, arrived at UF as a professor after retiring from Marathon Petroleum Corporation some fifteen-plus years ago. The recipient of multiple degrees, culminating in a doctorate from Arizona’s North Central University, Dan said he “always wanted to be a teacher,” and, while at Marathon, taught classes at other area universities. “I found it very rewarding,” he said. “And [in 2005] when UF had a few openings, I applied, was hired, signed the contract in July, and retired from Marathon in August.” It’s been a wonderful career, Dan explained, one that’s spanned from assistant to associate to a tenured professor. He most recently became part-time, winding down his commitment with UF a bit due to some health problems for his wife; while Dan is quick to say that he still enjoys teaching a great deal, in a testament to the character that UF likes to bind itself to in its students and faculty, he clearly puts family first.
Sam, Dan’s son and a fellow member of the part-time faculty at UF, is an alumnus of the University, having been a student in the business program at Findlay. He said that, like many freshmen, he wasn’t entirely sure where his academic focus should be when he arrived on campus; but by the end of that first year, with the help of classes, professors, and his dad, he had settled on a marketing major. “It was just general business management at first, then marketing” Sam said of his early focus. “I took several courses to look for specialization, and, in my last semester of my senior year, I took one on supply chain management logistics, and it really clicked.” Throughout his academics at UF, Sam was an intern at Fastenal in Findlay, a distributor of wide-ranging industrial and construction products, according to its website, and had been doing that exact type of work every day already, so that focus made even more sense. It was clearly the right choice.
This combination of classwork and experiential learning within the program helped Sam toward success at UF, and, subsequently, at some conferences he attended through the University. He and some academic colleagues launched a student-run 3D printer business that turned a profit almost immediately, that profit being donated back to UF and an entrepreneurial scholarship; he and another student represented UF for the first time at an American Marketing Association conference where they presented a marketing model, and the two won the competition against the many D-1 schools that had been attending for years. When he and some students went for a second year, they won again. And during his senior year, he was awarded the “Outstanding Student in Marketing Award,” an award at UF given “in Memory of Dr. Jones, First Chairman, Division of Business Administration.” And it certainly helped to have a mentor like his father on campus the whole time, cheering him on from the sidelines and helping him to prepare for exams, all the while learning new things right alongside his son.
Both men say that they owe a decent chunk of their success as professionals to each other as well. Sam, coincidentally staying closely aligned with his father in another way, took a job at Marathon upon graduating from UF, and earned an MBA with emphasis in Supply Chain Management and Logistics from Liberty University online in 2019; and, upon recently becoming an adjunct professor in the College of Business for UF himself, there is opportunity for growth for both men, once again, with the help of each other. “We bounce ideas off of each other, sure,” Dan said. “When he was getting his MBA, we talked about papers, and I learned some of the research and content as well as a result. I think I have learned more from him than him from me.” Sam uses Dan as a resource for how to develop his class, among other things, he said.
The father and son duo both clearly recognize the myriad of benefits that both UF and the surrounding community have provided for them and for countless others in the area. “I’ve found that a lot of UF alumni like to give back and stay involved,” Sam said. “I think that shows how well we’ve done at educating toward those ‘meaningful lives’ that UF strives for.” Sam represents that thought well, being on the alumni Board of Governors at UF and a member of the University alumni chapter at Marathon. “I think what a lot of us have in common is that we have an interest in helping to give back to UF both monetarily and with our time and experience,” he added.
Dan, who lives in the nearby village of Arlington where he and his wife raised Sam, is just as grateful for UF and the Hancock County area. It’s not lost on him that they are mutually beneficial, and each helps to make the other more important within the scope of partnership. “The county is large, yet small as far as community, and the great thing is that it seems like the businesses – from the small to the large – hit most of the content areas that UF has programs for,” Dan said. “Our faculty make sure that students get internships and opportunities in these areas, too.”
“It’s a great place to work, raise family, and give back,” Sam said.
“It is,” Dan added. “And we like to try to instill that in our students.”
By “we,” it can no doubt be said, Dan is most certainly referring to both Sam and the UF faculty family of which Sam is a new member; two types of family, sharing in a bond strengthened by education and opportunity.