Don Dykes is named Laurel Chamber of Commerce Businessperson of the Year

By Tony E. Windsor

Laurel Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Don Dykes, has been lauded over the years for his ability to stay on top of the needs of local businesses. So, he was obviously taken by surprise when he learned that his peers on the Chamber of Commerce have named him this year's "Laurel Businessperson of the Year."

Each year a representative committee of the Laurel Chamber of Commerce selects a business person to honor from among those Chamber members who are nominated by the general membership. For the past few years Dykes has taken the helm of the Chamber and has been the catalyst behind a revitalization of the organization's membership. Under his leadership, what was a waning chamber membership of 80 members has grown to 212 members, and is once again a vital part of the business community. He gives the credit for this growth to the members who stayed the course and to "the blessings of the Lord Jesus."

Dykes began his career as an employee of Dukes Construction. Owners Ross and Dale Dukes, convinced him to start his own business in the late 1980s, doing various construction work and, eventually, building homes. As part of this business, he began to install four-track vinyl windows for the Vinyl Tech Company of Venice, Fla. This portion of the business did so well that it became his sole business, "Donald L. Dykes Porch & Patio Enclosures." The success of this business, whose showroom and warehouse were on Trussum Pond Road, eventually led Dykes to be named "Dealer of the Year," selling more four-track windows than any dealer in the country. In 1997, after 22 years, Dykes sold the business. He credits Ross and Dale Dukes for not only their encouragement, but also for "sharing the Lord Jesus Christ" with him.

After leaving the ownership of his business Dykes became executive director of the Laurel Chamber and also worked as the property manager for the Laurel Redevelopment Corporation and did small business counseling. He eventually transitioned back into the workforce, joining first County Bank and then The Bank of Delmarva.

He remained in banking for 10 years, until he began his next "career" as a commercial realtor for Sperry Van Ness and as a business developer for Bob Wheatley and The Whayland Company.

He is now part owner of Alliance Real Estate Professionals. Dykes was asked to return to the Laurel Chamber as part time executive director. He made the decision to accept the challenge, even while working with his co-owners to build their new real estate company.

"First of all, I am flabbergasted that the Chamber was able to do this without me knowing about it," he said laughing. "I am absolutely tickled to death about this. It is such a great honor to be recognized by my peers in the business community. These are people who understand business and for them to nominate me for this award means so much to me."

Dykes' past and present professional memberships include BNI, Laurel Chamber of Commerce, Seaford Chamber of Commerce, Rehoboth-Dewey Chamber of Commerce, Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, Delmar Chamber of Commerce and Salisbury Chamber of Commerce. He also has enjoyed serving his community on the boards of Good Samaritan, Hope House I & II, Laurel Senior Center, Laurel Public Library, Carvel Gardens and the Mayor's Economic Committee. He is also a past Laurel Citizen of the Year.

Dykes lives in Laurel with his wife Kathy, who serves as the Chamber's administrative assistant. He has two daughters, Kathy Nichols, a registered nurse, and Cindy Burritt, a physical therapist. He has six grandchildren, Diana, Brittany, John, Lilly, Tae and Juliet.

The Laurel Chamber of Commerce "Citizen of the Year" and "Businessperson of the Year" banquet will be held on Thursday, Oct 24, beginning with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Tentatively the event is scheduled to be held at the Laurel Fire Hall. Tickets will be available at the Laurel Chamber of Commerce office in the new Train Station complex beginning Sept. 16. The price is $25 per person.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.