This business failed. Then it exploded.

“I saw it coming and I let it happen,” says Dean Hudson, local business owner of a plumbing company of the same surname.

It’s April 27, just before 9 p.m. We’re gathered in the family’s ranch house six miles outside of Paragon, IN. The overhead lights are dimmed. A fleet of linear windows flank us in each direction. Hudson, 49, is pressed into a leather-cushioned rocking chair, one leg tucked beneath the other. Reclined on the adjacent sectional is his wife and business-partner, Tish.

In 2011, when 97 percent of Hudson’s company consisted of new construction jobs, the Federal Finance Housing Agency reported grim post-bubble lows quarter after quarter, and many economists thought those numbers would linger or drop throughout the rest of the year.

Many of the builders he relied on for work had been quietly leaving Morgan County since 2008; one builder had been operating in the region for 18 years before he jumped ship.

“It drove me in the ground. I was a little burnt out, so I was okay to let it happen.”

Hudson called his remaining two employees to say he was finished. And then he called what builders he had left to relay a similar message.

The die was cast.

Let’s take a brief interlude. Because here’s the precipice of Hudson’s story. In the six weeks after his company failed, Hudson had a kernel of an idea that would grow into a full-fledged tree and further into the forest it is today: a million-dollar company that’s averaged an 8 to 10 percent growth in revenue since 2017.

In the interest of journalistic standards—of which I hold to exceedingly high regard—I must divulge a point I’ve been quiet about until now: Dean Hudson is my father-in-law; and not only that, but my employer as of Aug. 2019.

Journalists typically don’t cite family members as credible sources due to clear conflicts of interest, but in this case, there was no way around it.

The “Build a Business” column was born out of conversations like the one depicted here with my father-in-law.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are thousands of similar stories in Morgan County alone, each one ripe with golden opportunities to better understand community and legacy.

And perhaps most importantly, change.

This go-around, Hudson oriented the bulk of his company’s focus to service work—restoring crumbling, existing infrastructure in and around Martinsville proper.

He says in 1996 his priority was to limit the amount of time the business demanded of him, but after shifting the company’s business model to primarily service jobs, to include water heater replacements, unclogging drains and repairing leaks, it’s about his bottom line.

“That ended up being the right mentality,” he says. “You have to want to make money because…you have to want to do everything right. It doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just fall into your lap.” 

He continues, “Balancing time and money are two of the biggest components of life, and honestly if you get one out of whack, which I did, it doesn’t work.”

The lesson learned? Don’t go down with the ship. Jump it. And build a better ship.

Elliott Scott