He Built A Global Company…Then He Rebuilt His Alma Mater


Pete DeBusk is a true entrepreneur. He started from humble beginnings growing up in coal mining towns in the Appalachian Mountains. In his “Act 1,” he founded DeRoyal Industries, a major manufacturer of medical products with 1,900 employees and facilities in a half-dozen countries around the world. Today, the company manufactures over 20,000 different products.

Back in 2000, Pete began to step-away from the business turning the day-to-day operations over to his son Brian. He admits it was a difficult transition for him. Coinciding with this corporate leadership change, Pete was asked to serve as Chairman of the Board of his alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU). And that’s when his second act began.

He’s been LMU’s Chairman for 21 years now and Pete has rebuilt the school using the same playbook that he used at DeRoyal Industries. According to Pete, “You find niches and you fill niches.” Under his leadership, LMU has added a medical school, law school,  veterinary school as well as dozens of new majors that have helped the University grow by 1,500%.

As Pete shares in this episode: “I’ve built DeRoyal for my own personal use. Of course, it was a business. LMU you’re doing it for somebody else. You’re doing it to help people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to get a better education to grow in professional fields. Because it’s hard to come out those Appalachians and get into graduate schools and get into stuff and a lot of people give up before they get started.”

8 thoughts on “He Built A Global Company…Then He Rebuilt His Alma Mater

  1. Ursula Neal Reply

    Thank you for all you do for LMU. My granddaughter attends the University and loves it !

  2. Judy Holbert Reply

    A true statesman, interested on making a difference in education, and people. Unassuming, generous, vested interest in giving back to the community.

  3. Janet Jordan Reply

    We are all so honored to know & love Pete DeBusk. His intelligence and integrity are peerless. “Blessed is the man who plants the seeds of a shade tree he knows he will never sit under.”

  4. Jerry William Zillion Reply

    Few leaders have the tenacity and drive to accomplish what Pete has, first with DeRoyal, and subsquently with LMU. It is not over yet, as we enter the fourth or ffith inning of the mosaic of the fuure of LMU. Pete has a talent to embrace and include everyone in his vision, and he surrounds himself with people who can get the job done fittting all of the pieces of the puzzle together as his plan grows from a boulder to an avalanche of success and change.

  5. Alvin Hammer Reply

    I have many relatives and friends who graduated from LMU in years gone by. Very familiar with the campus.
    Now have a niece graduating this Fall. The change in the campus and the number of students is unbelievable.

  6. Ella DeBusk Reply

    Thank you for all your help LMU is amazing I want to go there for my college – Ella DeBusk

  7. Matthew Calfee Reply

    I am a former student and My son attends your medical school (Debusk College of Medicine). Very blessed to see what all you have done for LMU. God bless you sir! 🙂

  8. Frederick Fields Reply

    Pete is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. I would follow him into battle anywhere.

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