Warren Gorowitz discovered the green industry at the age of 14, when he was hired to work on the syringe crew at the busiest public golf course in the country. More than 500,000 rounds of golf are played there each year.
It was a summer job, and he would drive around, cooling off the greens. When it was time to go back to school, he worked at the course during the Christmas holidays and on school breaks. He would also find a mentor in his boss, who would give him work during LPGA and Senior PGA tournaments. “That’s when I fell in love with wanting to work in an industry that was related to being outdoors,” said Gorowitz. Working at the golf course also got him interested in horticulture.
Gorowitz did his undergraduate work at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. One summer, while still in college, he did an internship at a very prestigious country club. “They were installing a new sprinkler system, and I developed an interest in irrigation. I was on the team that helped work through the process of dealing with the outside contractor,” he said. “I also met some of the people at Motorola, and became more interested in water management. I was in my late teens or early 20s, and eager to learn.”
Prior to graduating, he was introduced to Ewing Irrigation, since one of his fraternity brothers was working for the company. In 1994, the company flew Gorowitz out to its headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. There he met Ray York, and, partly because of his experience with Motorola (Ewing was selling Motorola controllers and equipment), he was hired to do outside sales.
From outside sales to branch management, Gorowitz had the opportunity to observe and learn. “I’ve been with Ewing my entire working career, more than 23 years. It says a lot about Ewing and the people I work with, and the industry we work in.”
“While I was in college, I worked in the campus bookstore, selling computers, so I’ve always had an interest in technology,” Gorowitz said. “In those early days of my career, Ewing was testing a product, before it even came out on the market, that would conserve water; it was called the MP Rotator.”
The product was somewhat of a catalyst for Ewing. “While other people could see that this device was going to change the irrigation industry, we had a even bigger realization, that water conservation was going to play an important role in the future,” Gorowitz said. “We, collectively—with some very talented people in our marketing department, our sales staff and our leadership— created a brand in water conservation before anybody else.”
As Gorowitz began to get more involved, he realized that conserving water, being ecologically responsible, and the entire sustainability movement were just in the embryonic stages. He saw the importance of having this information, in order for him, as well as his company, to grow. He would brainstorm about “what if” someday he could focus his efforts on sustainability. He moved to Phoenix in 2013, and began to put more of his efforts into sustainability.
It was six or seven years ago that Gorowitz felt that Ewing was starting to take a serious look at sustainability, though they did not see it as a full-time job. However, as he continued to read more and heard more talk, he realized he needed to learn more about it.
He started doing some research and discovered that Arizona State University (ASU) was the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in sustainability.
Gorowitz also learned that ASU had created a master’s program, Executive Masters of Sustainability Leadership. Although he knew he could not juggle going back to school and his job, he decided to sign up for an open house. Before long, Gorowitz was going back to school. “It was probably the greatest experience of my professional career.”
All during this time, Gorowitz had been active in various trade associations and groups. He started his affiliation with the Irrigation Association (IA) in 2000 and was invited to sit on the board directors in 2011. Never in his wildest dreams did he think that one day he would be its president.
As incoming president, he will begin his term of office and will be installed at the Irrigation Show and Education Conference in November. “I am so pleased to be working with Warren during his IA presidency,” said Deborah Hamlin, CEO of the Irrigation Association. “He brings with him so much industry knowledge, as well as new insights gleaned from the ASU sustainability program. He exemplifies the volunteer leaders we seek to drive the association and the industry.”
“I believe in giving back to the industry,” said Gorowitz. “It’s an honor to be able to represent all parts of it.”
When asked what he sees in the future, his response was, “No question about it, water availability is going to be a challenge. The value of water will continue to increase, and landscape professionals are going to be leaned on more and more for their expertise.” Gorowitz continued, “Water that has been treated for drinking quality is probably not going to be an option for us to use on the landscape, in some parts of the country, going forward.”
“I think that, with our certification programs and our representation in working with the folks who are participating in the EPA WaterSense program, the Irrigation Association will continue to take the leadership role. I see a bright future for the IA, and I’m excited to add my contribution to those who came before me.”