On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Bill Dunn Sr., Chairman Emeritus of JE Dunn Construction, provided business insights to more than 200 aspiring student entrepreneurs and enthusiastic community supporters. “With an education, determination, desire, and enjoying what you get into, you will be successful,” he said.
The event was moderated by Dunn’s son, Steve, JE Dunn Chairman of the Board, and captivated the audience from start to finish. Bill told the audience his life story, giving Bloch students tips about good business along the way.
Bill wasn’t always a business man. In fact, he spent his youth as a baseball player. “But back then baseball players didn’t make enough money to support themselves, so I started working with an electric company when I wasn’t playing baseball,” he said.
He continued this trend until 1941 when WWII begun, and he and his brother both enlisted. Following the war, Bill considered continuing with the air force, but upon meeting his future wife Jean on a visit home, he decided to stay.
Around this time, Bill became more involved with his father’s construction business. He and his brother inherited the business from their father with Bill eventually buying the entirety of the company. Soon after, JE Dunn saw exponential growth.
Bill attributed their advancement to the philosophy, “treat the costumer how you would like to be treated; always give the costumer 101%.”
This costumer-orientated approach was fostered by Bill’s father, John Ernest Dunn, who taught him that “if you don’t have repeat business, you’ll be out of business.”
After years of local success, Bill decided to expand JE Dunn to other parts of the country, which proved to be quite challenging.
“I really had to learn the hard way,” he said. When entering new territories, Bill often found that companies wanted to hire local firms – even if they weren’t the lowest bidder. But, by creating local connections, he was able to find success in these emerging markets.
Bill ended his conversation by reminiscing on his connection to UMKC and his dear friend, Henry Bloch.
“So many great entrepreneurs have come out of the Bloch School of Management. JE Dunn built the new Bloch School building in honor of Henry Bloch and his commitment to educating young entrepreneurs. Thank God there’s a Henry Bloch in this community.”
Join us for our next First Wednesday on March 1 for “Startland News Visits with KC’s Start Ups to Watch in 2017” with Bobby Burch, Editor-in-chief of Startland News and some of Kansas City’s rising entrepreneurial stars. For more information about this event and other upcoming First Wednesdays events, click here.