Q & A with TRIDEC CEO Karl Dye

Getting to know Karl Dye, TRIDEC’s new President & CEO

Number of employees: TRIDEC currently has eight team members.

Karl Dye, TRIDEC President & CEO

Background of TRIDEC and its mission:
Established in 1963, the Tri-City Nuclear Industrial Council, today known as Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) was organized for the purpose of promoting and advancing the economic strength and diversity in Benton and Franklin counties. Today and tomorrow, TRIDEC is a unifying voice that stimulates and sustains economic growth and diversity.

How did you land your current role? Why were you interested in this post?
I was contacted by an executive search firm that worked with the TRIDEC board to find their next president/CEO. TRIDEC is viewed as an innovative leader in the economic development industry, and my family and I were excited to have a chance to live in our dynamic and amenity-rich community.

Why should Tri-Citians care about TRIDEC or economic development?
Our community along with the rest of the nation and world is going through an unprecedented economic change because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures taken to stop it. Now is the time for the community to participate in and support economic development, not just TRIDEC, but all of our local business organizations that are working together to get businesses reopened and our friends and neighbors back to work as the outbreak is contained.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
Good leaders listen first and create functional, empowered teams.

What is the biggest challenge facing business owners and managers today?
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused many businesses to close, reduce staff and/or hours while changing the way they operate their business. Trying to survive and stay open or have enough cash to quickly reopen when the outbreak is contained is an hourly struggle for some business leaders.

Who are your role models or mentors?
My Mom, Dad and John Wayne.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Think of the worst leader you have ever worked for or with and try to do the exact opposite thing they would do in every situation you encounter.

How do you keep your employees motivated?
We are currently learning to work as a team remotely and utilizing technology as much as possible. With this new work environment, we are trying to be as flexible as possible, connect our role in economic survival and recovery for our community to our daily work.

How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today?
Sixteen years ago, I ran for and was elected as a county commissioner in Bonner County, Idaho. In this public service job, I learned of the importance of economic development, in good times and bad. When I was unsuccessful in my reelection, I was chosen to lead a local economic development corporation and found my calling.

How do you measure success in your workplace?
In the words of my predecessor, Carl Adrian, economic development is a process. In our workplace we focus on planning and executing our yearly plans that include the best practices in the industry that over time will yield the best results.

What do you consider your leadership style to be?
Inclusive empowerment.

How do you balance work and family life?
During this remote working opportunity many of us are facing it is much easier to balance the two as they both take place in our home. The key has been to focus and separate both during specific times of the day.

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
Right now, we are still settling into our house and working on the yard and garden to get ready for spring and summer. Our family loves to travel, and Disneyland and the Oregon Coast are two of our favorite destinations.

What’s your best time management strategy?
Schedule your entire day. Even if it is research, lunch or schedule a Zoom meeting with our kids’ teachers. Put it on the schedule and stick to it.

Best tip to relieve stress?
Push away from your desk and go for a walk. You’ll come back feeling better and maybe will have worked out the solution to what was stressing you out in the first place.

What is your favorite book? Podcast? Why was it meaningful to you?
The only podcast I have listened to was one produced by two of my nephews who called their 84-year-old grandma (my Mom) and interviewed her last Christmas. My favorite book is probably “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. His concept that a character can become “unstuck” in time becomes more and more relevant to me the older I get.

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This article originally appeared the April 2020 edition of the Tri-City Area Journal of Business. Read online here

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