Second generation in the family enterprise: Brandon Evanko

  • Project Engineer, BRUNS-PAK (Edison, NJ)
  • M.Eng., Technical Entrepreneurship, Lehigh University, 2015
  • B.A., Economics, Franklin and Marshall College, 2014
Getting my TE degree was the best academic decision I’ve ever made…nothing else even comes close.
-Brandon Evanko

Brandon Evanko is exactly where he had always hoped he would be at this point in his career – innovating at BRUNS-PAK, a powerhouse firm that has held sway over the data center design/build field for more than 35 years.

You were born into an incredible family business. Why did you decide to enroll in Lehigh's Technical Entrepreneurship (TE) master's program

My goal—from the get-go!—was to build a career at BRUNS-PAK. My dad, Mark Evanko, founded the company in 1980, a year after finishing his B.S. in Civil Engineering at Lehigh. He went on to earn an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and I knew it was important that I complete an advanced degree as well. My father completed his undergraduate degree in engineering and his master's in business; my path was an undergraduate degree in economics and a master's in engineering. Lehigh's TE program seemed the best fit for me. I thought that the practical skills and insights I'd gain would be extremely valuable at BRUNS-PAK.

And were you right?


What skills did you develop in TE?

Wow...there were so many. It's hard to quantify them.

TE is such a real-world graduate program. We acquired lots of hands-on, specific skills like soldering and working with the AutoCAD, just to name a few. For me, coming from an economics background, all of this was new.

Speaking more generally, we learned how to how to solve problems, how to increase the odds of success and, most especially, how to work as a team…a skill that has proven to be invaluable. TE has an atmosphere that fosters comradery.

In my experience growing up, comradery was found outside the classroom, like on the playing field. Inside the classroom, there was often competition and rivalry, with each student trying to outdo others. It's not like that in TE. In fact, it's the opposite. TE is all about students working together to produce something greater than each could have produced alone. It's about figuring out who's good at what and blending all those strengths to achieve more.

Do you still have a connection with the other students in your cohort?

The bonding that develops among cohort members—even across cohorts—is incredible. I still communicate with other TE alums every single day.

How did your mindset evolve as a result of your year in TE?

I started the program with the mindset of an economics major. Over the course of the year, I began to see things in broader context and gain more agility.

The most significant way in which my mindset evolved, I would have to say, has to do with the extent to which I appreciate the perspectives of others. I benefitted from the diversity within our cohort and the uniquenesses of the other students. There was such a mix of backgrounds, undergraduate institutions, and majors. I became much more focused on understanding where people are coming from, and I'm able to apply this in the professional setting—with colleagues, sub-contractors, and clients.

What did you do immediately after receiving your M.Eng. in TE?

In my case, the way forward was clear. I started in my current position as Project Engineer for BRUNS-PAK several months after earning my degree.

BRUNS-PAK leads the data solutions industry. Can you tell us more about the company?

BRUNS-PAK is a privately-held company headquartered in Edison, NJ, with close to 100 employees. My dad is the Founder and President/CEO of our company. We offer a full array of services which include consulting, design work, and construction.

As a one-stop shop, we take on projects ranging in size from small data center upgrades to large new center deployments. The fact that our clients have the option of contracting for as few or as many types of services as they need, and of scaling these accordingly, differentiates us in the marketplace.

Who are your clients?

Our client list is extensive. For example, it include technology companies such as AT&T and IBM, educational institutions such as Harvard and Yale, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve Bank, pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer, retailers such as Walmart and Nordstrom, manufacturers such as Coca-Cola and Panasonic, and government entities such as the United State Postal Service and the Federal Trade Commission.

What are your responsibilities with BRUNS-PAK?

At the present time, I'm cycling through various departments of the company such as architectural, mechanical, and electrical operations; information technology; accounting; and sales. The goal of the rotation experience is to become familiar with the entire business and knowledgeable about both the big picture and the detail.

As Project Engineer, I'm like the Swiss army knife of BRUNS-PAK, equipped with useful tools and ready to do whatever's needed. Having degrees in Economics and TE gives me a comfort level and versatility as I go through training in each area. In some ways, the pressure's on because I'm the son of the founder, but that's more than okay with me.

How are you applying the new mindset and new skills you developed in TE?

Let me give you an example. Recently, as part of my training, I was involved in the process—top to bottom—of designing and building a data center in Connecticut. From start to finish, I saw the design all the way through construction of the data center. Without question, I was able to understand, absorb, and contribute more because of the skills I now have and the way I now think about things.

It's tremendously reassuring to feel like I'm prepared to do whatever needs to be done and to do it well. I know I can adapt to the unexpected, and I'm much more conscious of where others are coming from and of the importance of listening to their perspectives.

What are you thinking about the future?

Eventually, I hope to run the company. In the meantime, however, I'm enjoying my current role and focusing all my energies on learning the business from the ground up.

All of my educational choices have been shaped by the idea that I might one day be able to take over the reins and do a great job doing so. Getting my TE degree was the best academic decision I've ever made…nothing else even comes close.