Purple Toad Winery winemakers to speak on family business dynamics

Julie Sisler

To Dawn Bolton, management professor and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, entrepreneurship means finding a way to innovate, an idea that will be explored during today’s installment of the Entrepreneurship Speaker Series at 4 p.m. in Grise Hall 238.

“Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and goals, so entrepreneurship can mean a number of things,” Bolton said. “People can innovate by doing something unique in an established industry, by creating a new product or market or by innovating within a company as an employee.”

Though Bolton said the definition of entrepreneurship has been debated by academics for years, the numerous benefits can be found in a variety of places.  

“Entrepreneurial qualities can benefit folks in nearly any context, and we work to share that message with every student who enters our Center and classroom environments,” Bolton said.

In the spirit of sharing this message, the Entrepreneur Speaker Series was launched during the fall semester of 2014 and now features three speakers per semester.

The series is set up as a presentation followed by a question and answer session, allowing students to first hear from business owners and then ask more specific questions. This also enables students to network and make connections with local business owners.

“Not only do our students learn from these events, but over the years several internships and job opportunities have resulted from conversations during the one-on-one time with our speakers,” Bolton said.

This year’s series has covered topics such as business partnerships, finding entrepreneurial opportunities at every stage of a college career and developing a business from the career you’re currently in.

Bolton said the April 24 presentation is particularly topical to all college students, including those outside of the business majors.

“This particular Entrepreneurial Speaker Series event features one of our recent graduates, Steven Dossey, and his father,” Bolton said. “Their presentation highlights what many of our entrepreneurial students face upon graduation: now what?”

The presentation, entitled “Going Back Home to the Family Business: A Father and Son’s Perspective,” goes into what Steven Dossey did after graduation and how those decisions impacted his future.

Steven Dossey, a 2016 graduate, co-winemaker and production manager and his father, Allen Dossey, owner and winemaker, run Purple Toad Winery in Paducah.

Dossey said the presentation will first shed some light on owning a winery and the business of winemaking. The duo will cover their company’s history, everyday operations, and what their future looks like.

Next, the presentation will delve into what it’s like to co-own a business, especially when it’s with a family member. Dossey said there are many challenges that present themselves when running a successful family business, but also numerous advantages.

“We’d like to explain the family dynamic of running a business together,” Dossey said. “It can be challenging but definitely has an advantage over other businesses when run with a family.”

Dossey hopes that there will be plenty of questions from audience members in order to continue the conversation and allow students to direct the talk.

Dossey attended multiple Entrepreneur Speaker Series events during his time at WKU.

“The Speaker Series events were certainly something I was interested in,” he said.

When discussing the benefits of attending these events, he recalled a particularly significant realization that came to him during a talk by Dave Tatman, the Corvette plant manager.

“Managers are the leaders of the company and if the leader is not any good, the employees do not have a way to succeed,” he said of the lesson he learned during Tatman’s presentation.

This is exactly the type of reaction that Bolton hopes students will walk away from the presentations with, that students will learn valuable business and life lessons that will stick with them for years after the speakers’ talks.

For more information about the Entrepreneur Speaker Series, go to www.wku.edu/cei/index.php or the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, located at 234 Grise Hall.

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.