President, RND Automation & Engineering
Sean Dotson is a deft combination of optimistic and opportunistic.
That’s why he continues to reinvest in his manufacturing company, Sarasota-based RND Automation & Engineering, even with the uncertainty that clouds the economy. Late last year, for instance, RND purchased the majority of the assets of Baytool Inc., a Bradenton-based machine shop that shut down after 20 years in business. RND bought the bulk of Baytool’s machinery, and Dotson hired two of its machinists.
An engineer with a specialty in 3-D computer-aided design, Dotson has run his company like that going back to when he started it, in 2005. The firm, with about $3 million in annual sales, designs and assembles custom-made automation and robotic machines used by other manufacturers. Clients include manufacturers of contact lenses, hydraulic valves and automotive sensors. Revenues are up around 30% this year, Dotson says.
A Tampa native, Dotson previously worked in engineering and management roles for Venice-based impact resistant window and door manufacturer PGT and Sidel USA, a packaging and conveying company. He went out on his own, he says, to have more freedom and control over a business.
Dotson has since learned some valuable business lessons, including a twist on an old axiom, the customer is always right. Dotson says he’s learned that the customer, actually, isn’t always right. He says that’s because sometimes in a highly scientific field like robotics, customers don’t know what they don’t know. So they end up asking for the impossible.
Dotson says he’s diligent in customer education to avoid problems in that area.
— Mark Gordon
City of residence: Sarasota
Twitter handle: @seandotson
Best place to network: SAMA (Sarasota Area Manufacturing Assoc.) & LinkedIn.
Coolest business experience: With my wife eight-and-a-half months pregnant, I had to go to Ireland to supervise a three-day machine install. When the Irish rigging crew learned of this they worked around the clock so that I could catch a plane back to the States the next day. But not before taking me to the pub to congratulate me.
One website that makes your job easier: Google. I know it’s the obvious answer, but it’s an invaluable tool.
One community group you’re most involved with: The Village Idiots Cycling Club (we raise money for cancer and diabetes awareness).
Favorite off-hours activity: Road cycling.
Best award you ever received: Autodesk’s Inventor of the Year 2010.
Book you’re reading now: “Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc.”
Favorite techno gadget: Garmin 800 Cycling Computer.
If I had a magic wand I’d: Probably end up turning myself into a newt.