Lisa Ware: Her Father’s Daughter


Lisa (Sears) Ware '86 is the fifth generation of her family to actively manage Sears Manufacturing, a Davenport business started by her great-great grandfather in 1855.

From humble beginnings making saddles and harnesses, Sears Manufacturing has grown into a global leader in suspension and non-suspension seating for agricultural, construction and material handling equipment and on-the-road trucks.

Ware's father, Isaac Weir Sears '52,'80 (Hon), died in February, leaving a void for both a family and a community. Through the course of his life, Sears grew a successful international business and earned an impressive reputation for charitable giving. The list of projects and services to which he generously donated time and money is long.

"My father always felt that we were a fortunate family and that we had a responsibility to pass that good fortune along to employees and the community," Ware said. "His charity was real. Because of his good fortune, he wanted to help others. He just wanted everyone to have a chance, and he wanted everyone to succeed."

His daughter possesses the same spirit of giving and civic involvement. Her father sat on the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees for 30 years, and Ware now is a Trustee as well.

"I feel a tremendous responsibility to continue my father's work," Ware said. "As a business and a family, we are very committed to helping hospitals, cancer research and the community. We feel very strongly that we should help those who are less fortunate."

The Sears family's commitment to St. Ambrose is evidenced by internships that annually provide practical, experiential learning for future engineers.

"St. Ambrose University is one of the best assets in this community," Ware said. "Their programs are first rate, and we look to benefit from those programs. For 15 years or more, we have offered internships to St. Ambrose engineering students and it has turned out to be a win-win situation."

Jodi Prosise, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Engineering and Physics, concurs.

"Internships and experiential learning are a critical component to an engineering education, and Sears Manufacturing has been an amazing partner," Prosise said. "The company mentors are great at communicating and working with students so they have a terrific learning experience."

Brian Earp '16 earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in December and was working at Sears within three weeks. He credits the internship he served there a year earlier not only for providing real-world knowledge of skills his career will require, but also for giving focus to his degree choice.

Earp said his Sears mentor offered valuable career advice, but, as importantly, the kind of on-the-job independence that fosters real learning. "The mentor worked with me, and he was there for guidance," Earp said, "But he also let me handle my own projects. The whole thing was fantastic."

Ware said that's how the company's approach to interns is engineered.

"The intern program is designed to let the student know if he or she really wants to do it," Ware said. "We bring the students in and problem solve. We want the students to really go at it with our mechanical engineers and figure out solutions."

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