Ann Dobbs entered this world beating all the odds. Born as a triplet in 1922, the fact that she, her brother and sister (and mother) survived was enough to make headlines in the Washington DC newspapers, and merit a hospital visit from the President’s wife, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge.
Ann also learned the tough lessons of entrepreneurial survival at an early age. Her father started the first independent grocery chain in Washington DC and Ann was working in the family stores as long as she can remember. At the age of seven she still clearly recalls walking with her father to the local bank, only to find the doors chained shut after the great crash. Amidst these major macro-events, Ann learned business survival tactics – to scale down, to be resourceful and to provide consistent quality service to customers. She continued to run and grow the family business into a flourishing chain of respected grocers over the next several decades.
In 1990, Ann took on her “second career” as a SCORE counselor where she has helped countless small business owners. She believes in her clients and their business success. One of many examples is her client, and many have grown steadily such as her client ATC International who won the Exporter of the Year award.
Ann also has adopted another set of entrepreneurs trying to beat the odds – ex-cons looking to rebuild their lives by building a business. (To this day, the SBA forwards all correspondence from prisons to Ann.) Ann’s no-nonsense honesty coupled with her respect and compassion has earned her the moniker “mother” – and many Mother’s Day cards in May!
Personally I can attest to Ann’s amazing business acumen and gift of giving to others. Her deep experience with her family business, and her years of helping a wide variety of business owners, helps her skillfully guide owners to the core issues affecting their businesses. Her style is one of intense, engaged listening and insightful questions. Only at the end, when she has gathered enough information on the business goals and business results to date, she speaks up. Her advice is always targeted, wise and immensely helpful.
This week Ann will be 90 years young, still serving small business owners. Thank you Ann from all of us whom you have advised and inspired.