Meet Kellie Dodds, the third generation to head up the Mauget Company.
Nobody ever said that running a company, any company, was easy. There is so much to learn, and the little nuances that you have to be able to read; it all takes time, and let me tell you, Kellie Dodds puts in that time.
But first, let’s set the stage. In the early ’60s, James Mauget worked for a chemical supplier, and Dale Dodds was a chemical engineer. In 1964, Mauget started the Mauget Micro-Injection Company, a company that introduced micro-injection of chemical material into trees. The two men met in 1965 and in 1968, Dodds partnered with Mauget in the fledgling company. In 1970, just two years later, Mauget passed away. Dodds purchased the balance of the company and, because he respected James Mauget so much, he was inspired to keep the name.
Mauget was the first company to market micro-injection products for use on trees. As the years passed and the company grew, so did Nathan (Nate) Dodds, Dale’s son; he was then working at Pitney Bowes. By 1984, as Mauget continued to grow, Nate was encouraged by his dad to join the company and to bring his management skills along. Which he did, and the company thrived.
Let’s jump now to Kellie Dodds, Nate’s daughter, who grew up in Alhambra, California. While attending Alhambra High School, she joined a service club whose goal was to give back to the community. “The service club made a huge impact in my life, and how I moved through it,” said Kellie. “It taught me grace and respect for my elders; I really learned a lot about how to be a good adult.”
Upon graduation, in 1977, she enrolled at Pasadena City College, but decided to pursue a music career instead and dropped out. “At 19, I wanted to save the world. However, if I wasn’t going to be a rock star, I was going to be an environmental attorney,” said Dodds. “It turns out that I just didn’t have the calling for that. I had the calling to go out on a life adventure.”
Kellie had also joined Mauget, and started in the manufacturing area, but she still had wanderlust. She worked some part-time jobs for a short time, and hung around the house a lot, waiting for her dream to come true. Finally, her folks said, ’You’ve got to go to work,’ and her dad said, ‘I know where I can get you a job.’ She ended up at Pitney Bowes for a four-year stint. She then worked at miscellaneous jobs, selling records and stereo equipment.
She was still trying to find herself. “I was looking for a job where I could make use of my attributes. I was a handy gal, very physical and athletic. Someone introduced me to the California carpenter’s union,” said Dodds. In the mid ’80s, she joined the union, working her way through until she became a journeyman carpenter. She worked for a few years building movie sets, but at that time, the industry was in turmoil. It was time to move on.
Dodds was ready for her next adventure. Mauget contracted with her to build cabinets for its library in Los Angeles. She built and installed them. The company was so pleased, they offered her a full-time position. She stayed for about seven years.
Still looking for her calling, Dodds continued to try a myriad of jobs. She was recruited by Borders Books and Music to manage and open stores for them in the early ’90s. Starbucks recruited her as a manager. She spent the next seven years honing a lot of management and HR skills. Eventually, she moved to northern California, where she hung out her shingle as a business consultant, and did well financially, helping small start-up companies. She lived and worked in northern California for 11 years.
By this time, her folks were aging and in failing health. “My dad and my uncles, who are stakeholders in the company, had a meeting with the rest of the board of directors and invited me back into the company,” said Dodds.
History has a way of repeating itself, much like the situation with her grandfather, Dale, Sr., whose partner, James Mauget, passed away shortly after they partnered. Now, in 2017, shortly after rejoining the company, Kellie Dodds’ father, Nate, passed away, leaving her with the reins of the company as its president.
After a period of mourning, and with her wanderlust finally satisfied, Kellie Dodds has totally immersed herself in the company. She says, “I thought to myself, ‘We need to get this company into the 21st century; it looks the same as it did 15 years ago. Changes need to be made; new markets are ready to be opened, computers need to be upgraded, office equipment needs to be replaced, manufacturing needs upgrading, on and on. We can no longer afford to do business the way we did 35 years ago.’”
More importantly, she continued, “We need to let the world know that our concept of micro-injection is safer for the environment. We pride ourselves on being a very conscientious environmental company. After all, the products we market are environmentally-friendly, because we’re using a closed system to maintain the health of the trees. We don’t have to spray and worry about drift; we don’t have to soak the ground around the tree and force the chemical down where it could get into the water table.”
“What an opportunity we have,” said Dodds. “With micro-injection, we can not only service the tree care industry, but also landscape contractors. Now, they can not only treat the turf, they can also fertilize and control insects for trees as well.”
So Dodds has her work cut out for her. “I have so much learning to do,” she said. “I am confident, that with all the various jobs I’ve had and the experiences of helping to build businesses from scratch, I can and will take Mauget to the next level.”
Her enthusiasm is contagious and if you’re excited about your product, your company and yourself, the people around you will catch it. As the third-generation head of a small business, Dodds sees a great future ahead. “I have the responsibility of making sure that our people can support their families. After all, we’re really all one big family.”
Kellie Dodds will not only succeed, she’ll make her father and her grandfather proud.