IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Dodson, Durham take different approach to doing business

 IBJ Staff
December 5, 2009
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IBJ Editorial

This week’s issue features stories about two local businessmen. Both are native Hoosiers in their late 40s who showed entrepreneurial instincts at a young age. But the similarities end there.

Jim Dodson is an unassuming man of 49. He runs a company that helps businesses get discounts on bulk purchases. He got the idea for it in college, where he organized a buying cooperative of fraternities and sororities. The profits went toward student scholarships.

Dodson has used the fruits of his success to help others. When he launched his business, he immediately started setting aside 10 percent of profits for charity.

“There aren’t many companies in the United States that set aside 10 percent of … profits,” said Eugene R. Tempel, president of the Indiana University Foundation. “I think the average is less than 1 percent.”

Dodson also launched the Indiana Achievement Awards, which for 10 years have honored the state’s most effective not-for-profits. The awards have raised the bar for management at not-for-profits and allowed organizations that quietly do excellent work to shine.

Dodson’s idea of a good time: hanging out on the wraparound porch of his home.

Then there’s Tim Durham, 47, a highflier who has made his living buying and selling companies.

Durham has given to charity, but primarily has used the fruits of his success to live lavishly. He owns a 30,000-square-foot home at Geist Reservoir, as well as private jets, dozens of classic cars, and several Picassos. He attends Hugh Hefner’s Playboy parties in Los Angeles and invited 1,000 people to a birthday party for himself.

Durham’s idea of a good time: hanging out on his 100-foot yacht.

In a 2008 Indianapolis Monthly article, Durham said, “They asked me if I consider myself a materialist. I said, ‘Without a doubt! Look around.’ Does anyone not consider himself a materialist? Who doesn’t want stuff? This country is founded on the idea of people wanting stuff.”

Last year, he estimated his net worth at $75 million. In 2004, he told IBJ, “On the day I die, I want to be the richest man in the world.”

Dodson, reflecting on various hardships he has endured, said, “When I look back on my life, I realize I’ve dealt with some very major problems. It’s how you handle them that determines whether you grow as an individual or shrink. I think I’ve managed to grow through problems.”

This month, as reported on page 3A, Dodson is receiving IBJ’s Michael A. Carroll Award for community service.

This month, as reported on page 4A, FBI agents raided the Durham-owned Fair Finance Co. in Ohio, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis alleges the business was operating as a Ponzi scheme. Durham, his partners and related firms now owe the company more than $168 million. Investors worry they won’t get their money back.

Both Dodson and Durham are entrepreneurs who were motivated by profit. The difference lies in whether the profit was a means, or an end.•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.



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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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