No Problem is Too Big: Maurice Dowell

Features - Leadership Winners

Maurice Dowell looks for solutions and embraces change to lead his business and thrive.

November 19, 2009
Angela Dyer

In a dismal economic climate and with workforces changing, Maurice Dowell leads his team by creating solutions and changing the way things are done.

“A friend recently asked how business was so good with the economy the way it is. I attribute it to several things: We have a great market strategy, a good command of our demographic area, great team players and a great vision,” says Dowell, president of Dowco Enterprises.

Some of the changes involve finding employees after being told Dowco was not getting its H-2B workforce. Dowell explains that his team developed a plan to have a presence at job fairs and created a structure to discern if an individual would fit into their company.

He has tried to answer the challenge of keeping American workers engaged by changing the way the workers are paid and providing benefits.

“We realized we could no longer do some services, and we did some things differently,” he says. “We’ve gone to single-person crews and that allows us to pay our guys more than average.”

He adds the company also has made its trucks more green and sustainable to save money. They have a very clearly defined demographic area – what Dowell calls his “domination zone” – and less windshield time provides more profits.

Bob Coulter, business coach of JP Horizons in Concord, Ohio, has seen Dowell work through tough times with this glass-half-full approach.

“Obstacles will hit him, as they do everyone, but he doesn’t get down or feel sorry for himself. He is constantly looking at what he learned, how to get better,” Coulter says.

Another key to staying successful in tough times is relationship building.

“Any company that is successful in these times knows that service is key and (you have to) develop relationships,” Dowell says. 

This has been a foundation from the beginning when Dowell was just starting in the industry. He began mowing grass and realized that he needed a to offer more services in order to pay the bills.

“We brought these other lines of service on board and got some awesome people and brought them on board,” he says. “It’s a real testimony that anyone can do it. I didn’t finish college, and I wanted to work more than (go to college), and I just worked.”

Amid this success, Dowell credits his team as his greatest accomplishment.

“What I’ve come to realize is that stuff doesn’t last but it’s about the people in your organization,” Dowell explains. “It’s about people-building and growing the best team we can and having the depth to bring in others to step up.”
Coulter echoes this as he believes Dowell’s best leadership quality is his focus on people.

“He definitely cares about his folks,” Coulter says. “He is focused on bringing people together as a team and growing.”

His family is also instrumental to the company, as his wife, Donna, and daughter, Kelly, are both strongly involved in the business and the industry.

Dowell explains that as a leader he can only be as good as his team, so they continually work on team building and training.

Dowell explains that those in the industry who hope to be leaders need to be more prepared than their team. It also means continuing to study, research and read.

“To lead, you don’t lead from behind,” Dowell says.