Born and raised in Red Bank, N.J., Frank Eck earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 1944. The son of architect, Vincent J. Eck (N.D., Class of 1915), Eck also was a member of Notre Dame's track team. Upon his graduation, Eck enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the latter stages of World War II serving as a Lieutenant j.g. aboard a Landing Ship Tank (LST) in the Amphibious Forces. Following the Allied's victory, Eck was accepted to the Harvard Business School and earned his MBA in 1949. Known as Harvard Business School's Most Successful Class' by author Lawrence Shames, Eck and many of his classmates went on to play pivotal roles in American industry.
Eck began his business career in the petrochemical industry. In the mid-1950s, plastics were just starting to become an important raw material in supplying the growth of post-WWII America . Recognizing the significant potential plastics would have, Eck focused his efforts and held strategic marketing and management positions with then-industry leaders American Cyanamid Co.; Cosden Petrochemical Co. (a subsidiary of Fina Petrochemical); and Celanese Plastics Co., where he held the position of vice president and general manager.
In 1973, a relatively new company named Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) recruited Eck as its vice president of sales and marketing. Founded in 1967, ADS introduced 3- to 6-inch plastic pipe to the United States used primarily for farm field drainage. Recognizing the need for an experienced leader, ADS soon named Eck as president with the challenge of expanding the company in this new industry. Over the past 30 years, Eck, now chairman and CEO, has taken ADS from a small, regional manufacturer serving the agricultural market, to the world's largest producer of engineered plastic drainage pipe used primarily in the civil engineering industry. With 21 manufacturing facilities across the United States, ADS opened its first overseas operation in late 1999.
Eck continues to remain active with the University of Notre Dame. During the past 15 years, he has been a member of the Advisory Council for the College of Engineering . He is a loyal supporter, particularly of the Fighting Irish Football and Baseball programs. In 1988 he was inducted as an Honorary Member of the Monogram Club, and in 1992 was victorious head coach in the annual Blue and Gold game, having been invited to participate by then Coach Lou Holtz.
Eck's generosity and continuing support to Notre Dame readily can be seen around the campus through his contributions to the Eck Tennis Center (built in 1987) and the Frank Eck Baseball Stadium (1994). In 1984, Eck presented a gift to establish a collection of Chemical Engineering books at the Hesburgh Library. Eck also is the principal benefactor of the Eck Center at Notre Dame (opened in the Spring of 1999), which houses the Hammes Book Store as well as the Alumni Association's National Headquarters and Visitor's Center.
Eck also received the Sorin Award from Notre Dame, which annually recognizes an alumnus who has distinguished himself in support of the school and its objectives.
He also is a member of the Red Bank, N.J., Catholic High School Hall of Fame.
Eck is the father of four children including Frank, Jr. who is a 1989 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School , as well as a member of the Law School Advisory Council.