Steve Dunn: Dynamic Entrepreneur

Steve Dunn

Merriam defines dynamic as, “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.” So I would define a dynamic entrepreneur as someone who keeps striving towards a goal despite setbacks.  Furthermore, dynamic entrepreneurs believe in their value, build and nurture a viable network, use available resources to grow, and love a challenge. 

One example of a dynamic entrepreneur is Steve Dunn.  Starting Dunn Electric in 2004, Steve executes a simple vision: offering quality electrical services to the commercial construction industry.  Achieving many milestones, Dunn Electric is an 8(a) certified company that excels in exceeding customer expectations.  

Recently, I asked Steve (who confesses that he doesn’t always feel or think he is dynamic) a few questions about being a dynamic entrepreneur. 

He wakes up fueled by a positive outlook- Steve rises early in the morning anticipating that something good will happen and thrives from knowing that his customers believe in his abilities.  Read this again, Steve is confident in his abilities and is passionate about exceeding his customers’ expectations. 

He first acknowledged his drive while attending Tennessee State University School of Engineering and Technology where his favorite college advisor/professor, Mr. Thomas J. Brooks, praised him for his scholarly intellect by telling him, “A job by Dunn is a job Dunn right.”   These inspirational words became the company motto for Dunn Electric. 

Steve admits that proving his motto to customers was not an easy road.  “Early on when an opportunity would arise, I truly felt I would win, but more times than not, the project went to others. I soon teamed with a larger contractor and began to understand Dunn Electric’s shortcomings. In the electrical contracting industry it’s vital to have excellent bonding and insurance capacities, so we adjusted our bid forms and developed strong relationships with suppliers and vendors all of which helped leverage the playing field.”

He likes to talk- Steve is a fan of using all forms of communication to build his network.  However, his favorite is face-to-face interaction.  “Face to face interaction with individuals or company representatives has proven to be invaluable. I believe it gives a more personal meaning and added touch when others can see you, and your passion. I believe it gives confidence to the customer.”

Yeah, he’s crazy- Steve really loves a challenge.  Why, because it’s an opportunity to show others what he is made of.   “A challenge is an opportunity.  I tell most people that I like to chase opportunities not money. I believe with opportunities money follows. Also, I like being able to say, “It’s a Dunn Deal, Dunn Electric completed that particular project.”

Yeah, he’s crazy, but he’s not foolish- Running and growing a business has its obstacles.  Wanting to enter the government contracting arena, Steve approached several resources.  Of course, he reached out to the SBDC, but he connected to:

  • Small Business Administration – to become an 8(a) certified company

  • Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center- to get assistance with understanding government bids/proposals and to receive notices for proposals and bids. 

  • Tri State Minority Supplier Development Council to connect with purchasing officers   

At the end of my chat with Steve, I ask him to respond to two statements: define the word entrepreneur and use one word to describe himself.  He sits back.  Grabs his phone.  He gives me a textbook answer to the first statement.  “An entrepreneur is a person who manages all aspects of a business. Someone who seeks and produces business opportunities and oversees all aspects of the business from the initiation to completion of a plan or project.“  “Really?” I blurt out. “That’s so formal!”  He chuckles and leans back again.  A few seconds later he says,  “How about a person who is brave enough to go after a business opportunity that they see?” I grin and say, “That’s more like you.”  “Now what’s the one word?” He quickly and easily says, “Determined.”

written by Toni Sears, Management Consultant for Louisville SBDC