WACO, TEXAS — Recently, Dina Dwyer-Owens, the chairwoman and CEO of The Dwyer Group, a holding company of seven franchise businesses, including Mr. Rooter, has been appointed to executive chairwoman. Her passion, to help others become successful in business, is something she inherited from her father, Don Dwyer, who founded the Waco-based company in 1981.
Besides her passion to help others be successful, she continually surrounds herself and The Dwyer Group with individuals that strive for excellence and want to serve others.
According to Dwyer-Owens , it is very important to find successful people to model and learn from.
“Watching other great leaders is so helpful,” said Dwyer-Owens. “These leaders are always there to serve. That’s the key: leadership is about serving others. If I am serving my team everything seems to work out. You need to be really thoughtful to do this.”
The Dwyer Group’s Mary Kennedy Thompson, who was recently appointed executive vice president of The Dwyer Group while retaining her current position as president of Mr. Rooter, is an excellent leader and continues to find ways to serve Mr. Rooter and The Dwyer Group.
“Mary strives for excellence by challenging her team,” explained Dwyer-Owens. “She is someone who is always stretching herself. She was a Marine, so it’s fitting that she is always reminding her team that they are here to serve.”
According to Dwyer-Owens, Thompson also believes in surround yourself with people that will make you better. Be around people that are smarter than you, or a better leader than you. By doing this there is an opportunity to pick their brains and learn from them.
“Thompson is never afraid to ask questions or volunteer to do things that she wants to get better at, like public speaking for example,” said Dwyer-Owens.
Dwyer-Owens started learning about excellence and leadership at a very young age, thanks to her father, Don. He was a driven entrepreneur, and according to Dwyer-Owens, he wasn’t afraid to set high targets and go after them.
“No matter how scary or big they were he would go after them,” said Dwyer-Owens. “He was a student of leadership, and that’s what I continue to be.”
Dwyer’s many achievements were the product of sacrifice and hard work, as he realized the true American dream of success. As Dwyer-Owens enters this next chapter of her career, she looks to some of the important lessons she learned from her father:
Stick to your motivation: Sticky notes were Dwyer’s specialty. Dwyer-Owens remembers growing up that sticky notes were posted low on the bathroom mirror, at child height, so the kids could see them when starting their day.
“We couldn’t help but read these motivational statements and goal-setting triggers as we brushed our teeth and started our day,” said Dwyer-Owens. “Before I knew it, something on that sticky note stuck. Fast-forward, and you’ll find those same types of sticky notes on my mirror at home. If I have to travel, so do my sticky notes. I change them out regularly, but they are a constant reminder of what I want to achieve in business and in life.”
Success is something earned: Dwyer was sure about one thing. He didn't create The Dwyer Group to hand it over to spoiled children. Success was something he earned, and his children would have to earn it too. Allowance wasn't a huge word in the family’s vocabulary, but a paycheck was. Dwyer’s children learned the value of a dollar and a hard day's work.
“We all earned money to buy our own cars,” said Dwyer-Owens . “My first car was an old Volkswagen Bug, and I couldn't have been happier to get behind the wheel and know that I had earned that clunker on my own. Our father's achievements ensured that we had the necessities growing up, but our futures were something we were eager to work for.”
Values nurture success: The strength of a business's foundation depends entirely on the values of the owner and of the people who operate the business.
“On any given day, our father would say that his proudest accomplishment was realized when franchisees thanked him for helping them achieve their dreams,” explained Dwyer-Owens. “Starting a franchise empire from scratch, his ingenuity and leadership brought together a group of people to share in his vision. But they couldn't be just any people. They had to be people with values. His legacy is the success that is The Dwyer Group today, and the fact the company now prospers without him is a tribute to the Code of Values he established in the very beginning to be the benchmark by which to grow.”
Code of Values
The Dwyer Group’s Code of Values is paramount to the company’s culture, which trickles down to all of its franchises, including Mr. Rooter.
“This position allows me to work on what I call my unique abilities, which I get the most energy from,” said Dwyer-Owens . “Everything that has something to do with culture is something I love. Making sure no matter how large the organization gets, we keep the culture special, it revolves around the Dwyer Group’s Code of Values.”
Dwyer-Owens’ favorite aspect of her career at The Dwyer Group is the relationship side of the business, spending time with people, whether it’s an employee, franchisee or a future acquisition. She also thrives on the public relations and networking side of business, along with working on business strategy, which involves being thoughtful about what businesses should be acquired, and seeking those businesses and relationships out.
“As I grew in the organization, I learned that I can only be really good at a few things, and there are people around me that can complement the areas I’m not so strong in,” explained Dwyer-Owens. “What I became passionate about was and still is the culture and Code of Values.”
One of the people that compliment Dwyer-Owens’ strengths and weaknesses is The Dwyer Group’s new CEO, Mike Bidwell. Bidwell started one of the franchisees in the 80s and was also the president of Mr. Rooter before he recruited Mary Kennedy Thompson.
Dwyer-Owens sees culture as something that not only benefits The Dwyer Group, but the world.
“Now my passion has shifted into something more global than just the Dwyer Group,” said Dwyer-Owens. “Speaking engagements not only revolve around Dwyer Group Code of Values, but how other organizations need to adopt and execute their own values.”
In 2013, Dwyer-Owens was invited to speak at Fortune Magazine’s Small Business Group Summit.
“I was speaking alongside of people like Steven Covey, who I studied and read, and Tony Hsieh from Zappos, and other incredible leaders,” said Dwyer-Owens. “It was amazing to speak on the same platform with them, which was a real honor, but what I learned there is that people are really hungry for authentic leadership. They love to see organizations operate with core values and truly execute them on a daily basis. Not just have them printed on paper, hanging on a wall, but really see the leadership live those values.”
The Dwyer Group Inc., based in Waco, Texas, is a holding company of seven franchise businesses, each selling and supporting a different franchise under the following service marks: Mr. Rooter, Aire Serv, Glass Doctor, The Grounds Guys, Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric, (Drain Doctor in the UK and Portugal), and Rainbow International. Collectively, these independent franchise concepts offer customers worldwide a broad base of residential and commercial services. In addition, Dwyer operates glass shops in New England under the Portland Glass brand name.