Imagine being in Lake Tahoe for a distributor meeting, hoping the usual boring meetings will be cut short so you can take your wife sightseeing. Suddenly the room darkens, a video appears depicting your managers and Rex Dixon, riding into town on horseback, looking like the opening scene of "Bonanza." Your eyes widen as the scene becomes live -- Dixon, riding his horse, is galloping on stage to open the meeting.
"I've done this type of meeting for all the companies I've worked with. We always had an interesting theme. For one company we had a setting like a CNN newsroom, only we called it HNN. For another one, I dropped in as the Red Baron, parachute and all. I think we gained a reputation for throwing a good event."
Dixon believes that all business is personal. "I think you can achieve much more in business and in life with a great attitude, a sense of humor, and a smile than all the business degrees combined."
It's with this attitude that Dixon assumed the duties as president of the Irrigation Association in November 2001.
He has set goals to increase its membership and to encourage the involvement of the existing members. He believes there?s been a great deal of consolidation going on in the industry, and stresses that bigger isn't necessarily better. Better is Better. This is something he 'preaches' to everyone in the business.
"Over the years, the most remarkable thing about the irrigation industry is that it hasn't changed that much. It's a wonderful, personal industry of relationships. Once people get into it, they never leave. Not a particularly sophisticated business, but one that's driven on the backs of the contractors who are selling and installing the systems. If they stop, the whole industry stops," Dixon emphasizes.
Dixon was born in Scotland where his father was a famous soccer player and coach for the Glasgow Rangers. When he came of age, he went to college and received a bachelor's degree in chemistry. In 1968, he moved to the Bahamas and found work as an irrigation contractor. He knew nothing about this industry before arriving in the islands, but he says he fell in love with it. He moved to the states in 1971, where he joined LR Nelson and has never left the irrigation industry.
Dixon and his wife, Pat, are a team. Until a few years ago, they lived in Laguna Niguel, California, but now call Dallas, Texas home. Pat says his entrance as Braveheart to a national sales meeting is a good example of using his sense of humor for a purpose, which in that case was to raise the morale of his people after yet another acquisition. Being Scottish, he dressed in his full Scottish colors -- kilt, blue face and all -- and arrived at the meeting, again on horseback. Without question, his entrance was another hit.
The Dixons travel together for pleasure, going to such places as Hawaii, Mexico, Europe and Scotland. They were visiting family in Scotland during the September 11 attack on America and were stranded there for five extra days, a situation Dixon says was a bit uncomfortable, especially for his wife.
Dixon's unique philosophy about life has brought him far, and additionally, has allowed him to serve his employers in such inimitable ways to have earned him a distinctive reputation, "I love change. I'm inclined to say, if it ain't broke, break it. Because if we've been doing something the same way for years, I know there's a better way to do it today."