Even though Tom Dorsett has lived in some of the largest areas in the state, he says that there is nowhere else he would rather settle his family or his business than Yadkin County.
Dorsett grew up in Yadkin County. He was raised in Boonville with his sister Peggy until his father got out of the military and moved the family to Beaufort, NC. It was only a couple of years before the family returned to their roots and moved to Yadkinville.
Dorsett attended Yadkinville Elementary School and Yadkinville High School where he met the love of his life, Jo.
“I started dating my wife going into my junior year of high school and she was going into her sophomore year,” Dorsett said. “In 1960 I graduated from high school and was accepted at North Carolina State University. I finished my first year and when my wife graduated from high school we got married the next day.”
Dorsett and his wife returned to NC State where Dorsett transferred to the university’s technical institute. He obtained a two year degree in electronics. From there Dorsett started work with several national companies that dealt in controls.
“I was a salesman for the first one for five years and the second one I was a branch manager for five years,” Dorsett said. “The third business I was the manager of a region of four states. I stayed with that for a few months and was about to move to Richmond, VA.”
Dorsett said that he and his wife were expecting their third child and his father was experiencing health issues at the time he was considering a move to Virginia. He decided that the time wasn’t right to make a big move and he packed up his family and returned to Yadkin County.
His father was the owner of Dorsett Metal Shop and he decided to join his father and help him with his business.
“I went to work for my father and within the first week the only employee he had quit so it was just me,” Dorsett said. “Two or three years passed and we went through the recession in the early 1980s and I was getting ready to just give it up.”
Then the phone rang, Dorsett got a call from Unifi asking him to help them find an energy management system. This was something Dorsett was well versed in and once he found a company that had a product matching Unifi’s needs the company offered him the opportunity to install the system for them.
“I put in the system for them and it was the last system that that company sold and I felt bad about it and so I called them and they offered to give me enough material to keep Unifi going if I brought a truck up there to pick it up,” Dorsett said. “I got three tractor trailers worth of equipment.”
Little did Dorsett know but this would set off a chain of business that he never expected. This same company had also served NASA, the US Air Force, the US Military and many others. It wasn’t long before word got out that Dorsett had backup equipment and he became a new supplier. This was the birth of Dorsett Technologies.
“When they got out of the business, those places started calling us for parts and one thing led to another and we ended up developing and carrying the product line on,” Dorsett said. “They gave us customers around the United States that most companies don’t have.”
Then Dorsett started helping the Town of Yadkinville search for a new water and waste system and once again he found himself with a job offer to install the system he had helped to find.
“It worked out that the product I had would do what they wanted it to do so they asked me to put it in,” Dorsett said. “We put it in and it worked fine. Word of mouth spread and now we have about 45 or 50 of these systems installed in about 5 states.”
Today Dorsett Technologies has around 70 employees throughout the United States.
“We’ve been very fortunate in business,” Dorsett said. “Most of that has been due to the fact that I’ve hired Yadkin County people in most cases. My three vice-presidents are all from Yadkin County. There’s a tremendous amount of talent in this county and we try to take advantage of it.”
When Dorsett isn’t working to grow his business he enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, Denise, Kelly and Terry. He also has three granddaughters and a grandson.
“Being surrounded by women most of my life has probably changed my total temperament, Dorsett said. “I put up with a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t have put up with if my children had been boys. Different things bother women that don’t bother men. You have to learn to have empathy for something you don’t understand.”
Dorsett has vacation homes in Topsail Beach and the Florida Keys. He and his daughters enjoy scuba diving together and he likes to go fishing as much as possible.
“I like to fish but I don’t get to fish because I take everybody else fishing,” Dorsett said. “I do a reasonable amount of that.”
The family also likes to travel. They’ve been to Alaska, Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Nova Scotia, New York, Greece, Turkey and London. Dorsett says that despite his extensive travel he still prefers the rural hills of Yadkin County.
“The rural area is a good place to be from and to go back to,” Dorsett said. “We were gone 20 years and you start to see just what a community like this has to offer. Not just for you but for your children and grandchildren. I know what’s out there and I like what’s out there but I like to go and come back.”
Dorsett said that his biggest goal in life is to continue to grow his business and to give back to his community.
“We’d like to double the number of employees in about 10 to 15 more states,” Dorsett said. This past year we were very proud because the Center for Entrepreneurial Development in Durham listed us as one of 25 companies to watch this year. My ultimate goal, though, would be to try to give back to the community as much if not more than it gave me.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.