SHERIDAN — Famous businessman Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
That is a statement that speaks volumes in John Dick’s life. The director of the Wyoming Technology Business Center in Sheridan has had a long and winding journey that’s taken him to many regions of the world, and he’s using those experiences to help Sheridan’s businesses and economy flourish.
Dick has always been eager to explore new places.
Growing up in New Hampshire, Dick was ready to leave New England out of high school. So, he ended up at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. It was there that he met his wife, who is originally from Sheridan. Dick then went on to get his master’s in business and accounting at the University of Hawaii.
To finish up his education, he moved again — this time, it was a much further trip. He completed his education at Hi Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China. He then stayed to work in Beijing.
“I just thought it was an interesting part of the world, and I didn’t know anything about it,” Dick said. “So I decided to focus my studies on business in China.”
There is always a clash in culture between the United States and China, but when you move from the densely-populated, urban environment of China to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, you might as well be on a different planet.
Dick and his wife left China and a city with the population of approximately 20 million people to move to a town of less than 2,000.
“I used to joke that there were more people in my apartment building in China than in Pinedale,” Dick said.
Dick ended up in Laramie in 2010, when he eventually started working for the WTBC. When it was announced that WTBC would open up a Sheridan location, he jumped right on it.
“With my family’s connection to Sheridan, it just made sense for us to move up here,” Dick said.
Since he started at the business incubator in the winter of 2015, he’s attracted several local clients. Currently, the business incubator is home to four Sheridan-based businesses that are looking to expand in the coming years. He’s also working with businesses located outside the incubator.
He said his goal is to help businesses grow faster and stronger than they would otherwise.
“We are farmers, we’re not hunters,” Dick said. “We don’t go outside of Sheridan to look for clients, we want to find Sheridan businesses.”
Dick has recruited a wide variety of businesses to the incubator including home siding and basketball clinic businesses. He’s done that by making contact with the community, which not only takes up most of his time, but also is one of his favorite aspects of his job.
“Sheridan is worth it,” Dick said. “This is a small town, but there is a lot of potential here.”
When he’s not enhancing businesses, he’s helping out the community in other ways. He volunteers with The Food Group and is participating in the Sheridan CiViC project.
Jon Benson, CEO of WTBC, called Dick “one of the best people I’ve ever hired.” Benson said that Dick has a tremendous amount of knowledge on upstart businesses and is an asset to both the WTBC and Sheridan.
“He’s a bright and creative guy,” Benson said. “He’s got great people skills and networks with local businesses. He does a great job with those that he’s brought into (the business incubator) as well.”
It’s been quite the journey to get to Sheridan, but now he said there is no place he’d rather be.
“I never though I’d end up here,” Dick said. “I’ve worked a variety of jobs and lived in a variety of places, but it’s nice to set some roots down in Wyoming.”