About Dave Dodson
I’m a product of the small-town Mountain West. I was born in Greeley, Colorado and grew up in northern Larimer County, near Laporte, Colorado. I camped and learned to ski in the Snowy Range, and grew up eating snow cones at Frontier Days (and sneaking fireworks back across the border for the Fourth of July.)
The first members of my family moved north to Wyoming 34 years ago, and my mom moved up here a few years later. I bought a home in Teton County about 25 years ago and became a full-time resident in 2011.
My family has a long and proud history in coal mining, beginning in 1837 when my great-grandfather started the Weston Dodson Coal Company. Eventually, it was merged with the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, which was nicknamed “The Old Company.” As I understand it, at the time it was one of the first vertically integrated coal mines in the country.
My mother’s father was the son of a Nebraska sharecropper, and my parents met at Iowa State. After graduation, they moved to Windsor, Colorado and my dad became an entrepreneur with a small sugar beet farm equipment maker he bought, and my mom became a teacher.
I grew up as a typical small-town kid, causing low levels of trouble, shooting at bottles and cans at the county dump and pretty much anything that moved.
My parents loved the outdoors – my fondest memories of my dad are of cold mornings spent in freezing duck blinds, waiting for the sun to come up and fishing in any body of water I could drop a line in.
I grew up with a love of Boy Scouts. I am an Eagle Scout – a member of Order of the Arrow. I later went on to be an assistant Scoutmaster for years.
School and Career
I left Colorado when I graduated from high school to attend Stanford University. I showed up wearing boots and chewing Red Man, and it was the first time I found myself in with people who on the surface didn’t seem much like me. But learning to get along with people who were different from me was one of the best and most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my entire life.
That was during the Jimmy Carter years of spiking interest rates and soaring inflation. Farmers – my dad’s customer base – were especially hard-hit, forcing my father to eventually auction off what was left of his company. I still have a copy of the auctioneers’ notice that was pasted to the front door which my dad gave to me.
That affected my family’s ability to pay for my schooling, so I took on a number of jobs to pay for college, including working afternoons at the Ferrara Meat Company. In the mornings I studied economics, and in the afternoon worked in a slaughterhouse. I hated that job, but it was the most important job I ever had, because I learned what it’s like to work at a job you hate solely because you need the money.
After college, I worked on assignments primarily in the energy business – in oil field servicing, pipelines, and for manufacturers of oilfield supplies. But living in Texas as oil prices dropped by half was a rough time. I saw the damage that can be done to people’s lives when a state’s economy is deeply dependent upon energy prices.
Eventually I became an entrepreneur, raising funds from investors to allow me to acquire and build companies in industries as diverse as home security, specialty trucking, auto parts, and telecommunications.
I helped build a lot of value for investors and create a lot of jobs – more than 25,000 – and for that I’m thankful.
But not everything worked out as I’d wanted, and I have had to lay off hard-working people three times in my career. I’ll never forget what it’s like to tell someone they’re losing their job because I failed to do a good job running the company. It was hard (much harder on them, sadly), but it taught me life lessons about how painful it is for everyone involved when critical things go badly. I know it’s made me a better dad, friend, and husband—and I also know it will make me a better Senator for Wyoming.
My wife Wendy is the person that makes me laugh at life and at myself. She’s also the person who first encouraged me to consider seeking to serve as Wyoming’s senator.
I’m the very proud father of three grown daughters – Rachel, Hannah, and Caroline. As many of you know, having kids makes you think a lot about the future – of our nation, of our state, of our community.
Oh – and having daughters also gives me an early warning system for when I need a haircut.