“Talented,” “terrific” and “charismatic” are words his friends and colleagues use to describe him. But those words don’t quite convey the impact Mark Baldwin has had on the Cedar Valley. From manufacturing to education, business, energy, health, economic development and music, Mark’s contributions have touched many lives.
Although he was born in LaCrosse, Wis., and didn’t move to Cedar Falls until his teens, he considers Cedar Falls his hometown. Following his graduation from Cedar Falls High School, he attended UNI for a year, majoring in mathematics and then entered the U.S. Air Force Academy, obtaining a bachelor of science degree in mathematics. He then attended UCLA, graduating with a master’s of science degree in engineering.
Mark’s first job after UCLA was a working on the F-16 aircraft development at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Following that assignment, he returned to the Air Force Academy, teaching mathematics. In the summer of 1979, he left the Air Force for Ford Motor Company, working in the forward model development program for Ford’s light truck division in Dearborn, Michigan.
During the time Mark worked for Ford Motor Company, his father-in-law, Arvid Washek, and two others founded Iowa Laser Technology in Cedar Falls, a contract manufacturer of metal fabrications for the automotive, agricultural equipment and construction equipment industries. In 1981, Iowa Laser was experiencing some problems and his father-in-law approached him about becoming the fourth partner. Mark left Ford and returned to Cedar Falls with his wife, Sue. Mark provided the additional cash and enthusiasm needed to help turn things around.
While at Iowa Laser, Mark realized he needed more business acumen, so he returned to school to get his MBA. He attended classes at UNI from 1981 through 1984, while working all day on the shop floor. He and Sue had their first child in 1982 and their second child in 1987. Soon after that Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in 1990. While Mark and Sue were active in the young couples program at Nazareth Lutheran Church, it wasn’t until later when Iowa Laser “got on its feet” that Mark became heavily involved in community organizations.
Iowa Laser now employs 110 employees and now conducts business in facilities totaling 132,000 square feet in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park. Helping Iowa Laser succeed was just one of the many contributions Mark has made to the Cedar Valley. He has served as president of the Iowa Quality Coalition, during which time the coalition instituted a program to bring the principles of quality to the public sector. He also served as board chair for the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, chair of the Cedar Falls Chamber of Commerce from 1991 to1992, served on the boards of the UNI Research Consortium, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, Cedar Valley Economic Development Corporation, Hawk Community College Foundation and policy board for Cedar Valley’s Promise.
His present involvements are no less impressive. As a member of Wartburg College Board of Regents, he was heavily involved in creating an advisory board for the Department of Business. Building on that success, he helped create other departmental advisory boards and a national advisory board that links the college to professionals outside academia.
Mark is also chair of the board of directors for Allen College as well as serves on the board of Allen Hospital and Iowa Health System. He is also on the board of trustees for the Cedar Falls Utilities and on the executive advisory council for UNI’s College of Business Administration and Department of Industrial Technology. He also serves as a trustee for the Community Foundation of Waterloo and Northeast Iowa. Many of these boards and organizations have experienced significant growth in their facilities and programs.
Mark has since remarried and he and his wife, Peggy, are the parents of four daughters. He is an avid golfer, tennis player and sailor and he and Peggy have a passion for fine wines, cooking and dining.