The Man Behind the Cuff Links

My father has always been my role model. Teaching me everything from how to change oil in a car to giving me a great example on how to treat a woman, everyday I learn something new from him. As I get older I am starting to learn how to become a professional and how to conduct myself in the work environment and who better to turn to then my father. He has successfully accomplished many of the goals I have set for myself. One of these goals is being a successful businessman and owner of his own business. I plan on going into business with my younger brother later on in life and to start a company just like my father has done. Even though we are in different fields there is so much I need to learn from him about forming, owning, operation my own business.

Before the Office

Growing up in a middle class area he had a great life growing up in Toledo. He grew up as the baby boy in a house with an older sister and two loving parents that taught him all of his morals. He grew up in the Lutheran church where his mom sang in the choir and his dad gave sermons. They worked extremely hard to provide for both he and his sister. But the bigger impact they had was teaching him how to interact with and treat people. “My father was big into Christmas because it allowed him the opportunity to reach out, care for, and have and impact on more people.” His father was a plant manager for Dixie Crystal Sugar Company and was a very disciplined man who understood how to be work with and manage people but remain humble. I believe this is where he gets his ability to speak with people and make them feel comfortable. This characteristic of interacting is what allows him to be such a great salesman, business owner and perfect example for my brother and I.

He attended an elementary school that was within walking distance from his home and later a high school that was only blocks away. He graduated from Owens Community College, a local university, where he received his Radiological Technologist degree. “I got one B,” he said jokingly but with a twist of regret. He began to talk about the constant competition he was in with his classmates in college. “We had just come out of a test and we started to compare test scores. I always would beat my roommate and on this particular day it was only by a few points. He got so mad he threw all of his papers and pens down the hall way, cursing up a storm, and all I could do was sit there and laugh.” He started to chuckle about half way through that story. But this was just a microcosm of his drive and competitive fervor. He wanted to be the best at what he did and set out to do it. This is one of the many reasons he has been so successful in the business world with no business degree. When he wants something he knows how to put his head and work to attain it.

A Surprise Career

I have always been told surprises are opportunities in disguise. “I really stumbled into the field,” he told me as I asked him how he got started in the x-ray field. He went on to say, “I originally wanted to go into physical therapy but once I found x-ray I realized I loved it. And turns out I was pretty good at it.” He ended up turning that into a solid career path that allows him to provide for his family and brings him great joy. “Love what you do and it will be easy.” He told me to keep that close to me if I, or anyone else, wants to be truly successful at what you do.

His career as an x-ray technologist began in 1982 at Toledo Hospital. There he began to hone his skills and make many valuable relationships that he still has today. This was one thing he had stressed to me “always treat people with respect because you never know when you are going to run into them in the future.” This principal holds true to this day as he runs into people he knows at almost every place he enters. It is evident in the conversations as he engages other people with genuine interest and with the laughs he shares with them. He said that this is something that he implements with people he bumps into or interacts with in the office.

Ten years later in 1992 he began his sales career and E.G. Baldwin as a account manager. “Eighteen months later I was the top salesman,” he stated. This was a significant financial boost for him, my mother, and their new son, me. After he worked his way up through that company he was presented with the opportunity to own his own. In 2001 one he was an owner of Mikron Digital Imagining. This was another opportunity derived from hard work and dedication to achieve the goals he had for himself and his family. “It wasn’t easy but I knew the end result would be with it,” he stated.  He continued to say “that sometimes you just have to do things scared to achieve some of the best outcomes.”

Day in the Life of a Boss

Aside from being a master at soft skills he has an incredible job with in an office that was described as “friendly and like a small family.” He is the president of sales and partner at his company Mikron Digital Imaging. His company sells and installs x-ray equipment into hospitals all across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio majorly. With this wide sale area he has to travel a lot and often refers to his work truck as his “second office.”  When he is in the office he is dealing with and managing “scheduling issues, sales people not wanting to sell, service people having to run home to their wives right at five.” We both started to laugh about that last part. Living this life can be made a little easier however because “business owners can make well into six figures, and a good salesman can make fifty thousand plus commissions.” Immediately following that statement he said, “the money isn’t what gets me through it though, it’s about making the customer happy and providing the best service I can and the best solutions to their problems.”

Once I got passed the background questions and started asking about his day to day the air about him changed. It got lighter and looser as the questions began to get closer and closer to what he does everyday. When asked what was the best part about what he does for a living and faster than I could finish the question, “fire people,” he said in a joking tone. But he then followed that up with “watching my sales people close their first big sales deal and seeing their excitement.” I could feel and see the joy that this brought him and it wasn’t from anything he had accomplished. For as much as he talked about how some of his people drive him crazy, the moments they figured out and succeeded all he wanted to do was celebrate with them. It was evident how much time, energy, and knowledge he puts into others that when they don’t “get it” it’s frustrating but when they do “its complete validation.” There is something to be said for that type of attitude.

Running a business is hard tedious work but when you have had a background of leaders like my father has, it is easy. From early childhood to now he has grown and learned from all of those around him starting with his father and my grandfather. He taught him to be a man of the people which has helped to propel my father in his business ventures. Along with all of the soft skills, talking to people and engaging with them, that he has mastered over time in combination with his drive to succeed makes him the businessman and owner he is today.

“I stretched myself and tried sales and found out that I was good at that too. Next thing you know I was owning four companies.”

-Donald Dotson

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