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Monday, May 2, 2016

Bill Dory long overdue to be credited with local successes

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bill Dory (left) chats with State Sen. Richard Bray at a Legislative Update session earlier this year.
Sometime next Tuesday, the hierarchy at Phoenix Closures will open their doors to the media and some invited guests, and Greencastle's newest manufacturer will magnanimously heap thanks upon Mayor Sue Murray, city officials and others.

Among them certainly will be Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory. And odds are Dory, in turn, will be thanking and praising everyone else.

Truth be told, if Bill Dory discovered the cure for cancer, solved the Amelia Earhart mystery and built a perpetual motion machine -- all in one day -- he'd find some way to shrug it all off and credit everyone else.

Consider that the old Oxford Automotive (nee Greencastle Manufacturing) facility on Manhattan Road (South Jackson Street) had been vacant for six years since Oxford closed up shop and idled 330 employees. Not many people in this community ever thought that industrial site would ever be a viable part of our local economy again.

But that didn't deter Dory, who led tours of the facility by flashlight since the power had long been turned off, dodging open machinery pits and discarded equipment and materials in the vast blackness.

That above-and-beyond effort by Dory wasn't lost on Greencastle Development Center Board President June Pickens, who during remarks at the 2012 GDC annual meeting, spoke to that very issue.

"We're very fortunate to have Bill Dory as our director," she began. "He works tirelessly at his job for all of us.

"I don't know how you show a building as big as Oxford Automotive with no electricity, an empty building of that size with open pits. By flashlight! Now there's a challenge."

A challenge that Dory helped turn into a $30 million local investment and the promise of 90 new jobs by 2014.

"We have a lot of unsung heroes," is all Dory would say, deflecting even that praise by his own board.

"I'm just the guy who gets to stand up here and report some of these things," he offered.

Yeah, and the same guy you'll find in his office, working past 10 or 11 p.m. on a weeknight or hard at it on a Sunday night in January or July.

And that's nothing new. When he first came to Greencastle in the mid 1980s to run the Main Street Greencastle program, you'd find him with a shovel somewhere downtown, shifting sand and moving dirt and concrete pavers into place to facilitate the sidewalk project, more than you'd ever find him behind his desk.

Many of us go to the Legislative Update programs on Saturday mornings each January and February for the strong coffee, warm sweet rolls, gossip and good conversation, Bill Dory comes armed with questions and proposals.

Last winter, for example, he proposed that a portion of the airplane fuel tax be returned to local airports to help replace a loss of matching grants for airport projects. Worth looking into, our legislators said, noting that they hadn't thought of that themselves.

Ask local officials and industry leaders about the man, and you'll get responses like "tireless," "extremely helpful" or "very knowledgeable."

When he pulled off the double coup of producing a buyer for the Oxford building and a renter (Dixie Chopper) for the controversial Fillmore Road spec building that had sat vacant since its construction in 2008 -- all within four months at the end of 2011 -- he elicited a round of applause from the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission.

And board members praised, "this is like Christmas" at that post-Thanksgiving announcement of the spec building lease.

Last spring there was similar reaction when Gov. Mitch Daniels came to town to announce an expansion at FB Distro (which has since become a bigger expansion since parent company Charming Shoppes has been sold to Ascena Retail Group). Several of that day's speakers credited Dory with making the project a reality.

Like clockwork, Dory called it a "team effort" and shifted the credit to the FB Distro staff. Oh, Mr. Bill ....

But people in the know understand. Sen. Richard Lugar was in town shortly thereafter, and while his visit was purely political, he took time to quote the successes of local Development Center, which at the time was still a one-person operation. Guess who? (Since then Dory has been able to add Tami VanRensselaer -- formerly Parker -- as his assistant in a much-needed return engagement.)

Other communities have taken note of what is going on here, I've been told. Some are quite jealous.

Trust me, I have seen Bill Dory at work on two continents. He is never unprepared. He's all business. And while sometimes that drives a media guy like me nuts when he won't take credit or won't fill in all the blanks right at this moment, he is as selfless as he is humble.

After all, this is the same guy I've seen wash out his skivvies in a Tokyo sink and scatter them around our hotel room to dry.

What's that got to do with his success?

Oh, come on, we had to share some dirty laundry, didn't we?

But seriously, when you see Bill Dory, thank him. He's helped make this a better place to live and work.

And there's no deflecting that credit any longer.