by Becca Taurisano
Julie Barown had always excelled at math and science, but was thinking about a career in law until her high school physics teacher stopped to talk to her after class. Recognizing her natural talents, he suggested that she consider engineering instead. “It was the first time my eyes had really been opened to that field of study. Attending an all-girls high school in Brooklyn, it was just not something that anyone had suggested to me before. The thought of becoming an engineer sounded incredible and I knew immediately that’s what I wanted to do,” she says. That one conversation changed her life. After high school graduation, instead of studying political science, Barown received a scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and thrived in the rigorous academic engineering environment she found there.
After receiving a Bachelor of Science from Rensselaer with a concentration in Civil Engineering, Barown set out on a career path that included obtaining her New York professional engineering license and working as a professional municipal engineering consultant. After nearly a decade and a half in that area, feeling her career had stalled and yearning to expand her horizons, she set out into the engineering sales world. This culminated in a realization of the goals Barown had set many years ago. This past October, Julie Barown was named President of J. Andrew Lange, Inc. in East Syracuse, a manufacturers’ representative, supplier and dealer for water and wastewater treatment equipment serving Upstate New York.
Barown came to J. Andrew Lange, Inc. in 2018. She was looking for a company that would allow her to make an impact across New York State by providing technical expertise, reliable products, and outstanding technical customer service in order to protect one of New York’s greatest natural resources – water. A chance encounter with long-time Lange employee and professional acquaintance, Mike Mele, lead her to Lange and it seemed like a natural next step in her career. Mele told her that Lange was looking for someone to come on board and knowing Barown from her days as a consultant, he was enthusiastic. When she interviewed with owner, Margery Lange Keskin, Barown realized there was an opportunity for ownership as well. “All the cards had finally fallen into place. Lange was exactly where I wanted to be,” says Barown, “and it was already a woman-owned business. I knew there was a lot of potential for me at Lange and where the company could go in the future.”
Lange was incorporated in 1968 by J. Andrew Lange, Keskin’s father. As a second-generation business owner, Keskin was looking for someone to continue the legacy her family built. With Keskin’s business acumen and Barown’s technical expertise, they naturally complemented each other’s skillsets. “I have always felt very well taken care of by Marge. I always felt very valued as an employee,” says Barown. “My experience working for a consultant and my experience working for a manufacturer get wrapped up into a nice package here with what I do for Lange. I am the bridge between the engineering and manufacturing worlds,” Barown says.
As a business partner for manufacturers, Lange is responsible for business development of the products they represent, as well as working with engineers to specify equipment. There is a lot of work done by Lange before a piece of equipment is ever sold. “Our relationship with engineers is key and the trust is so important. We pride ourselves on our technical expertise and being upfront and honest at all stages of the project,” Barown says. However, Lange’s work doesn’t stop there. Lange also works closely with contractors who are installing their equipment, so being responsive to contractors’ questions and helping them solve problems, is crucial. “There are a thousand different places where things can go off track during construction,” Barown says, “but we are there to make sure the process keeps moving smoothly, for the contractor, the engineer, and the owner.”
At the beginning of 2020, Mike Mele announced he would retire from Lange after more than 25 years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. “Everything was very unsettled,” says Barown, “and I realized that I needed someone I could rely on.” In July 2020, Mike Deyulio joined the team at Lange. “When you make big changes, there is always risk involved and some level of discomfort. Once Mike came on board, it made it comfortable for me to take on the risk of ownership,” says Barown.
Mike Deyulio brings more than 20 years of knowledge of the construction industry, sales experience, and business expertise to the Lange team. Deyulio says he likes the way Lange is run, both by Barown and Keskin before her. “This is a family-owned business, but it operates like a big company. Julie is a very technical engineer and I have the sales and construction background. My past experience and her past experience complement each other. Our life experiences have taught us a lot,” says Deyulio.
Barown hopes to expand the services Lange currently offers their customers including construction administration and observation, professional services, and equipment services. “Engineers and contractors tell me they need Women Business Enterprise services beyond what they can currently find, so I would like to meet that demand,” Barown says. Deyulio looks forward to what the future holds. “We will allow our brand to grow bigger by bringing on additional competitive manufacturers and we are starting to see the marketplace demand other products. Some of the plans Julie has will put us a step ahead of the competition,” he says.
Stepping into the role of owner is a dream come true for Barown, and one she worked toward for more than a decade. “I am one of those people who gets something in her mind and doesn’t let go until it happens. I am very goal-oriented and driven in that way,” she says. In addition to owning J. Andrew Lange, Inc., Barown is involved in several leadership roles with state and local professional organizations. She is a board member of the Capital District Chapter of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers, Board Member of the Capital District Chapter of the New York Water Environmental Association (NYWEA), chairperson of the NYWEA Public Outreach Committee, and member of the NYWEA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Barown and her husband have three children, three cats, three dogs, and enjoy renovating houses as investment properties.
According to Barown, we still have a long way to go to make a future in science and technology accessible to women. “It’s not so much that the opportunities aren’t there,” Barown explains, “it’s that the environment isn’t always as inviting for women as it could be. Throughout my career, I’ve had to deal with being the only woman in the room, and on occasion, the comments, both direct and indirect, that come along with that,” Barown says. “If I’d had a thinner skin, I might not be where I am today. I’m not one to give up.”
- Andrew Lange, Inc. holds a Women’s Business Enterprise National Council certification, a Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, and a New York State Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) certification. To learn more about J. Andrew Lange, Inc., visit https://www.jalangeinc.com/.
“Immediately after coming onboard in 2018, I recognized that Julie had what it takes to be a successful business owner: smart, likeable, great work ethic and impressive educational background. Like my father, J. Andrew Lange, Julie is also a Rensselaer engineering graduate and a Professional Engineer. We were very fortunate to have found such a quality individual in Julie. J. Andrew Lange, Inc. and its employees pride themselves in a commitment to quality and marketplace focus. I am very pleased that Julie will carry the torch for both my and my father’s legacy in J. Andrew Lange, Inc. well into the future as a woman owned business.” – Margery Lange Keskin, Daughter of J. Andrew Lange and Former Owner of J. Andrew Lange, Inc.