(April 26, 2018–ANNAPOLIS, Md.)–Who plans to work in forestry, helps land men on the moon, becomes a five-time recipient of the Department of Defense’s highest civilian decoration, and doesn’t stop there?
Only Norman Augustine.
“I had a friend who always said, ‘When opportunity knocks, try to answer the door,’” said Augustine. “So that’s what I tried to do.”
That door should be in a museum. The opportunities have been plentiful for this retired CEO and chair of Lockheed Martin, who will be inducted into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame on May 2.
From hopes of becoming a forest ranger, the Princeton University alumnus started out as an engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1958. It was the beginning of a long and celebrated path between business and public service that passed through some of human history’s most defining moments.
“I studied aerospace engineering and—just blind luck—the week I started graduate school, Sputnik went up and the Moon race started,” he recalled. “So I was able to play a tiny role in putting 12 of my friends on the moon and getting them back.”
Decades later, Augustine would head the review committee on NASA’s human space flight program – including moon missions. Constrained by the budget at-hand, the program ended.
In 1970, Augustine headed back to the private sector at the LTV Missiles and Space Company. Then it was back to government, as assistant secretary – and then under secretary, and acting secretary – of the Army. His return to business after that was at Martin Marietta in 1977, where he ascended to the top job over the course of 10 years, landing at a critical time: the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“When the Berlin Wall collapsed, the aerospace industry collapsed,” Augustine said. “As an industry, we lost 40 percent of our employees and three quarters of our companies in five years.
“So the question was, ‘How do you save your company?’ That was probably the biggest business challenge I’ve faced.”
He did save it, and when Martin Marietta combined with Lockheed Martin, he led the new company until he retired in 1997. But he never forgot the 700,000 “good, decent, hardworking people who helped win the Cold War” and then lost their jobs.
“He’s brilliant, but there is no arrogance,” said Nancy Grasmick, Ph.D., the former state superintendent of schools who now leads programs on innovation in education at Towson University. “He has no ego at all. He is a person who seeks out—not only tolerates, really seeks out—the opinions and talents of others.”
Still, it seems most people are interested in Augustine’s own opinions and talents, instead. In the 21 years since retiring from Lockheed, he has served on the faculty at his Ivy League alma mater as well as boards for Princeton, the University System of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He’s a trustee for the National World War II Museum and has held board seats at ConocoPhillips, Black & Decker, Proctor & Gamble and Colonial Williamsburg. He has led—as chair or president—the American Red Cross, the Council of the National Academy of Engineering, the Association of the United States Army, the Aerospace Industries Association, the Defense Science Board, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Boy Scouts of America.
In Maryland, the name “Augustine” is synonymous with business climate. He chaired the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission–commonly referred to simply as “the Augustine Commission”—from 2014 to its completion in 2016. The commission’s findings have advised Maryland legislators and policymakers on how to strengthen the state’s economy. That means Augustine has a critical and comprehensive understanding of what it takes for a state to succeed.
“When [Martin Marietta] combined with Lockheed Martin, one of the first questions that came up, of course, was ‘Where will we put the headquarters of the new company?” Augustine remembered. “California was such an unattractive place to be in business [that] the discussion lasted about two seconds. That’s why it’s so important that the [Maryland] Chamber does what [it] does, and why the state must be very competitive in business.”
Augustine has served on advisory boards to the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy, Defense, Commerce, Transportation, and Health and Human Services, as well as NASA, Congress and the White House. He served on the Hart/Rudman Commission on National Security and spent 16 years on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
He has received the National Medal of Technology and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Distinguished Public Service Award. The Defense Department has given him its highest civilian honor—the Distinguished Service Medal—five times.
It’s more than enough to inspire gracious understatement.
“He really has very few peers, if any,” said Grasmick, who has worked with Augustine on a number of initiatives. “This is an extraordinary person, and we’re so lucky to be able to say that he’s a Marylander.”
Augustine joins Community Bank of the Chesapeake Chair Michael Middleton, as well as Classic Catering People President Harriet Dopkin, in the Maryland Business Hall of Fame this year. The awards are part of a celebratory evening at the Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel beginning at 5:30 p.m., featuring keynote speaker Gov. Larry Hogan. Register at mdchamber.org/events.