Research about new magazines during one recent multiple-year period showed a whopping 90 percent of them failing, with 50 percent of the titles going belly up in their first year. That’s why we take such great pride in this issue marking D CEO’s 10th anniversary, which we know would not have been possible without the support of our loyal readers and advertising partners. From the get-go back in 2006, the magazine has been dedicated to charting the fortunes of North Texas business through the real stories of the area’s business leaders.
Below we take a look back at the pacesetters whose tales, as told in D CEO, contributed to making this decade so remarkable. From challenges, setbacks, and outright failure to great successes, these stories, taken together, help define a region whose economy has been and continues to be dynamic, resilient—and never, ever dull.
‘A Centripetal Force For Dallas Business’
“We met with scores of CEOs while planning this magazine, and their biggest complaint was a feeling of being disconnected, a loss of the sense of place. They wanted to know how the local economy is doing. They wanted to know about the new ideas and innovations percolating around town. Most of all, they wanted to know about each other.
Our purpose in starting this magazine is to create a centripetal force to counter the centrifugal force that is the inevitable fact of doing business today. We want to pull … our readers’ attention back to business—and leisure—in Dallas.” —Editor-in-Chief Wick Allison, Issue 1
February: DFW ranks No. 4 on list of “America’s Hottest Cities” for expansion or relocation. May: HUD secretary denies nixing a contract because of criticisms of President Bush. May: NorthPark Center completes its $250 million, 1.2-million-square-foot expansion. June: A study by market research firm Claritus says DFW is home to 67,080 millionaires. September: Congress votes to repeal the Wright Amendment beginning in 2014.
Advice From Fluor’s Alan Boeckmann
A year after Fluor Corp. relocated its headquarters from California to Las Colinas, company CEO Alan Boeckmann told how our Central time zone made good business sense for Fluor—one of the largest publicly traded engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance services companies in the world. A 33-year veteran of the company, Boeckmann presided over a far-flung enterprise with 46,000 employees in 200 offices in more than 25 countries. “Don’t be so enamored with getting the next promotion or moving forward that you forget to do a good job,” Boeckmann advised other CEOs. “Don’t forget the people that have helped you along the way or forget to give them credit. Without others, you would not be where you are.”
An Eloquent ‘Inflation Hawk’ at the Dallas Fed
“There are always bumps. [But] if the preparation is impeccable, your focus is impeccable, your commitment is impeccable, then the bumps, you’re gonna deal with ’em.”Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington, sharing his leadership lessons
Richard Fisher was less than two years into his job as president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, but already firmly established as an eloquent, whip-smart, and very quotable “inflation hawk.” Among things that were important to know about the son of immigrants (his father was Australian, his mother Norwegian) and former Wall Streeter: Fisher was unusually far-sighted (and successful) in private business. When he talked, markets moved. And, politics wasn’t his bag.
February: Investment firms KKR and Texas Pacific Group bid $32 billion to buy TXU and take it private. March: Art collector and developer Raymond Nasher, who built NorthPark Center, dies at age 85. March: Comerica Inc. says it will move its HQ and about 200 employees from Detroit to Dallas. July: U.S. News & World Report says five Dallas hospitals are among the “best in the state.” December: Neal Goldberg, a member of Zale Corp. board, replaces Betsy Burton as the company’s CEO.
Being the Oilman T. Boone Pickens
Just after turning 80, with an estimated fortune of $3 billion, the legendary Thomas Boone Pickens Jr. recalled how his hard-working Oklahoma upbringing prepared him for the twists and turns of entrepreneurship. Having made, and lost, billions of dollars over the years, the energy-industry tycoon had recently turned his attention from oil and gas to wind power. He was also cooking up plans to pump water from 200,000 acres in West Texas and sell it to one of the state’s urban areas. In addition, Pickens was in the process of donating hundreds of millions of dollars to the likes of UT Southwestern Medical Center and his beloved alma mater, Oklahoma State University.
A Banker’s Friends in High Places
Alan B. White blew into Dallas from Lubbock like a West Texas tumbleweed in the late 1990s. In no time, it seemed, his PlainsCapital Bank had become the second-largest privately owned bank in the state. He did it with the help of his well-connected wife, Lee Ann, and a network of friends and customers like T. Boone Pickens, Jerry Jones, and Harold Simmons. PlainsCapital’s relatively freewheeling corporate culture also helped. Employees were encouraged to dress up on Halloween, and the losing sales team during intra-company sales contests “won” the rear end of a real buffalo mounted on a wooden plaque. (A buffalo called “Mo”—for Momentum—is the bank’s mascot.) White’s upbeat personality was also an asset. He’s “always thinking very creatively, and he has a lot of energy,” observed Charles E. “Stormy” Greef, a longtime friend of White’s. “He’s always working, and he’s continued to be entrepreneurial, even though the bank has grown.”
“I’m a guy who has invested in my home, and I’ve always wanted my home to be a place I love to be. It’s important because my family is there.”Carlos Supulveda, President and CEO of Interstate Batteries, on his favorite place in Dallas.
March: The Census Bureau reports that more people moved to DFW than any other U.S. metro last year. April: Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert leads a delegation of business and civic leaders to China. May: Hewlett-Packard says it will acquire Dallas’ Electronic Data Systems for $13.9 billion. June: AT&T announces that it will move its corporate hq from San Antonio to Dallas. November: Voters OK a $747 million bond that will allow Parkland Hospital to build a new hospital.
How To Survive The Recession
The worst economic downturn since the great Depression meant havoc for companies in North Texas and throughout the country. But our “survival guide” spelled out five tips for persevering—and bouncing back to health. It was essential to attract top-shelf employees during this period, the guide instructed, just as it was important to refinance your existing debt. The guide also urged repositioning your product around its distinctive attributes, looking out for problems in your supply chain, and preparing for new types of competitors once the recession ended: “Look at this … as an opportunity … to redefine just exactly what you want to look like in the next five years.”
Simmons’ Nuclear Option
For decades, Harold Simmons had been one of Dallas’ most controversial businesspeople. But Simmons’ ability to generate debate ramped up when the billionaire philanthropist sought state permits to open a low-level radioactive-waste dump at a remote site near Andrews, Texas. Located about six hours west of Dallas-Fort Worth, the town seemed to welcome the application by the Simmons-controlled Waste Control Specialists company. Not so accepting of the plan were environmentalists like the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, who argued that the Andrews County clay was insufficient to prevent potentially contaminated water from polluting the area’s groundwater. In the end, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was expected to OK Simmons’ permits, and the site was scheduled to begin accepting the low-level waste.
“We’ve turned our logistics system upside down. You won’t see suppliers’ trucks outside a 7-Eleven, or delivery men getting in the way as you shop.”Joe DePinto, President and CEO, 7-Eleven inc.
January: Real estate developer Trammell Crow, who pioneered “spec” building, dies at 94. May: The $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium opens in Arlington for the 2009 NFL season. July: An SEC case charging entrepreneur Mark Cuban with insider trading is dismissed. October: The first two buildings of Dallas’ $354M AT&T Performing Arts Center open. December: Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth announces a $14m rehab hospital.
An Appetite for Risk at Ryan Inc.
Brint Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Dallas-based Ryan Inc., said that while he likes to lead by consensus, he can be a very decisive, “benign dictator” at times. The leadership style seemed to be working, as Ryan’s global tax services firm boasted 42 locations in North America and the United Kingdom. The firm also was enjoying a five-year compound annual growth rate of almost 30 percent. Asked for the keys to the firm’s success, Ryan pointed to the capability of his team, a “technology-driven” service model, and a willingness to take risks: “We develop a lot of cases using the firm’s capital that may or may not be successful,” he said.
Tuesday Mornings with Mason
Although she was “proud to be one of the only women CEOs of a publicly traded company,” Tuesday Morning chief executive Kathleen Mason said she was mostly grateful for the position. The Dallas-based discount retailer, which had more than 8,000 employees in about 860 stores, kept Mason busy traveling to trade shows and meeting the company’s vendors. The CEO predicted tough times for the industry and the retailer, which she said bought “only first-runs” directly from the manufacturer. “The year is going to be challenging, for sure,” Mason said, citing web sales and consolidations. “I think there are going to be lots of format upheavals in the world of retail.”
April Tech Wildcatters becomes DFW’s first accelerator working with B2B startups. May Blockbuster posts a $65.4 million net loss, or 33 cents a share, in the first quarter. May An Experian study says Dallasites’ average credit card debt is the nation’s second-highest. September Southwest Airlines announces it will buy AirTran Holdings. September Blockbuster files Chapter 11, aiming to extract itself from $1 billion in debt.
A Texas Rangers Power Struggle
Some likened it to the pummeling that then Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan once administered to Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox. Although no blows were actually exchanged, Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg found himself out of a job after crossing swords with Ryan, the team’s president. The abrupt axing of Greenberg, who’d earlier helped the Rangers emerge from bankruptcy, came after Ryan and Greenberg reportedly clashed over “management styles and chemistries.” The last straw came when Greenberg missed a team board meeting and failed to co-host a planned party for advertisers. A “him or me” situation had developed, Ryan complained, and soon he was CEO and Greenberg was out.
Survey Says: DFW Economy a Bright Spot
For the fifth straight year, D CEO published the results of a survey of North Texas business leaders conducted by the SMU Cox School of Business. The 2011 SMU Cox Sentiment Survey, which drew responses from more than 430 CEOs, presidents, and business owners, revealed that local executives were worried about continued weakness in the national and international economies but remained bullish about DFW.
“When we focus on the consumer, focus on our agents, and focus on our partners, we can create better value for our shareholders, and we are solidly No. 1.”Pamela Patsley, CEO of Moneygram International
April Blockbuster and its 1,700 stores are bought at auction by Dish Network for $233M, plus debt. October Investor Herman “Ward” Lay Jr., son of Lay’s potato-chip magnate, dies at 66. November American Airlines files for bankruptcy, looking to cut its labor costs. November The 23-story, 1,001-room, city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel opens for business. November The Dallas Mavericks win the NBA Championship by defeating the Miami Heat, 4 games to 1.
A Former Mayor Joins the Cabinet
He was Texas’s first black Secretary of State, the first black elected mayor of a big Texas city, and the first black U.S. Trade Representative. Ron Kirk especially relished the last job, as a member of his friend President Barack Obama’s cabinet. “When my name was floated and people were counseling me, I said, ‘You’re telling me I can have the head job at the trade commission?’” Kirk recalled. “I wanted it.” That stint followed his service as mayor of Dallas, where he cut red tape for small business. Kirk also worked to clean up the Victory Park industrial wasteland and to build American Airlines Center.
Finalists Named in EY’s EOY
Kelly Baltes, who ran a chain of 110 restaurants, began his career as a busboy. Max Martin was rebuffed several times by his bosses before starting a software company. And Kelley Battles liquidated his assets to launch a successful food-packaging business. They were among 42 regional finalists in the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year program. For the fifth successive year, the inspiring story of each finalist was told in our pages. Winners of the Southwest Area-North region went on to compete for national (and, hopefully, international) Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. Among the honorees in the 2012 program were Andres Ruzo of LinkAmerica, Stephen Mansfield of Methodist Health System, and Lifetime Achievement winner Gerald J. Ford of Diamond-A Ford Corp.
“We knew there was an opportunity. There weren’t many quality products for men, so for us [it was most important] to make him feel masculine without a lot of … fluff.”Curran Dandurand, Co-Founder, Jack Black Men’s Grooming Company
January Irving’s Hostess Brands, which makes Twinkies and Ding Dongs, files for bankruptcy. January New J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson unveils a major overhaul of the department-store chain. May BlackBerry developer RIM says it hired two firms to review its strategic options. October T-Mobile USA says it intends to merge with Richardson-based MetroPCS. October Klyde Warren Park, connecting uptown and downtown Dallas, opens.
A Fiasco Unfolds at J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
After hedge-fund billionaire Bill Ackman acquired a $900 million stake in J.C. Penney Co. Inc.—and a seat on the Plano company’s board—he aggressively pushed the iconic department store chain to reinvent itself. Longtime CEO Mike Ullman was ousted and Ron Johnson, the savant behind Apple’s Genius Bar, replaced him. Customers balked, though, as Johnson moved the store upscale and deep-sixed its longstanding discount policy. When 19,000 jobs were slashed and sales plunged by billions, Ackman resigned and sold his stake at a $400 million loss. But he wasn’t the only one to blame, an executive at the company’s headquarters contended: “This board has been fiddling while J.C. Penney burns.”
Advising Life-Science Startups
With a medical background and an MBA, Hubert Zajicek seemed ideally suited to serve as managing director for medical technology at the North Texas Enterprise Center incubator in Frisco. In that position Zajicek was advising health-science startups like MDConnection on everything from clicking with venture capitalists to writing business plans. “When he gives advice, it always tends to be very good advice,” one entrepreneur said. Later Zajicek would leave NTEC to co-found Health Wildcatters LLC, a Dallas seed accelerator.
“My father … has instilled in me the entrepreneurial spirit and a very strong work ethic. But what I admire most about [him] is his leadership and courage.”Ross Perot Jr., Founder and Chairman of Hillwood, on his father, Ed’s Founder Ross Perot
February American Airlines announces merger with Phoenix-based US Airways in an $11 billion deal. June The Dallas Entrepreneur Center opens to support a growing startup community. August The Dallas Cowboys say they’ll move their corporate HQ from Irving to Frisco. November Dallas marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. December Self-made billionaire/philanthropist Harold Simmons dies at 82.
Kelcy Warren’s Expansion Plans
Once a small natural gas pipeline operation, Kelcy Warren’s then-19-year-old Energy Transfer had grown to include one of the nation’s most significant portfolios of energy assets. Complementing its core master limited partnerships, which owned more than 71,000 miles of pipeline transporting crude oil, natural gas, and rich natural gas liquids, Energy Transfer was aggressively expanding with acquisitions in the shale-oil sector and with plans to export liquefied natural gas. Said the Gladewater, Texas-born Warren: “We remind ourselves every day at Energy Transfer, like a mantra, that we are service providers. You’d better supply the services your customers are asking for. If you don’t, then you will lose their business.”
April Toyota North America announces plans to move its California HQ and 4,000 jobs to Plano. May The Perot Jain fund launches, offering capital to tech companies with $15M to $50M in revenue. July Active Network says it will move its HQ from California to downtown Dallas, bringing 1,000 jobs. September Dr. Ron Anderson, who led Parkland health and Hospital system for nearly 30 years, dies at age 68. September Thomas Eric Duncan visits a Texas Health Hospital with America’s first Ebola case.
Toyota CEO on the Relocation
Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, likened running the company while overseeing its headquarters relocation from California to Plano to having to “chop wood and sharpen the axe at the same time.” In an interview, Lentz disclosed that the automaker would be trimming its workforce as it restructured in order to operate smarter. The chief executive also revealed that, in contrast to car enthusiast Akio Toyoda, the race-car-driving Toyota Motor president and CEO, Lentz is different: “I love the business of cars. I love the business of looking at macro trends, population growth, changes in generations, and trying to distill from all that where customer needs are going to be.”
Bad Times for Go-Go Hospitals
The Forest Park chain was a physician-owned model of upscale hospitals in North and Central Texas that relied for profitability not on Medicare or Medicaid, but on lucrative patients insured by private insurance plans. Some of the facilities, like the one in Dallas, also depended on generous “out-of-network” charges to supplement their revenue. That helped lead to the company’s collapse once payers balked at paying out-of-network charges. The hospitals that tried to go the “in-network” route then had trouble securing contracts. Each of the Forest Park hospitals—in Dallas, Frisco, Southlake, Fort Worth, and San Antonio (one in Austin never opened)—gradually began defaulting on their loans, and some contractors and vendors placed liens on the facilities. Eventually, all the hospitals would be thrown into bankruptcy.
“One is having an innate ability to see what’s around the bend … A good entrepreneur [also] is all about getting better, learning, and being able to pivot and change.”Shama Hyder, Founder and CEO, The Marketing Zen Group, on her several strengths
May MarketWatch declares that DFW is America’s “most business-friendly” metro area. July Facebook begins work on a $1 billion data center at Ross Perot Jr.’s alliance in Fort Worth. August Parkland opens a new $1.3 billion hospital, five years after beginning construction. September Beloved Dallas entrepreneur and real estate icon Ebby Halliday Acers dies at age 104. September Richard Rainwater, a money manager turned billionaire investor, dies at age 71.
A Reshuffling at Match.com
There was a management reorganization at Match Group Inc., best known for its online dating site, when Dallas-based Match Group was spun off from its parent company, IAC. Among the changes: Mandy Ginsberg, previously CEO of another Match-owned site that offers tutoring services, became CEO of the Match Group in North America. It was a homecoming of sorts for Ginsberg, who had been CEO of Match U.S. from 2008 to 2013. With 2014 revenue of $883.3 million, fast-growing Match Group dominated the $2.4 billion dating services industry with about a 22 percent market share—and Ginsberg said it was her goal in her new position to keep the company relevant.
Tom Gaglardi Revives the Dallas Stars
After Canadian businessman Tom Gaglardi bought the Dallas Stars out of bankruptcy in 2011, he turned the team into the envy of the NHL. Gaglardi shored up the team’s finances (it had been losing around $30 million a year), hired back Jim Lites as president, and snapped up Jim Nill to serve as GM. Ticket sales began to soar and—most important—the Stars started winning again. Gaglardi foresaw a Stanley Cup for Dallas within the next three years.
January Trammell Crow begins work on Park District in Uptown, anchored by a big lease from PWC. February Forbes says Dallas was the nation’s top metro for job growth between 2014 and 2015. February Oil patch layoffs, bankruptcies continue as oil prices plummet to $26.21 a barrel. June Mexican theater chain Cinepolis moves its U.S. HQ from Los Angeles to Addison. June Celebrity Chef Kent Rathbun sues to reclaim the right to use his name on future concepts.