Member Spotlight: Jason Dingess, Quis Machinery, Inc. (May/June 2018)

With strong roots in North Carolina, Jason Dingess, president/owner of Quis Machinery, looks back to what led him to his life’s dream: owning his own business. As far back as he can remember, Jason has wanted to own his own company where he has the direct opportunity to help people.

JDing1Moving from Statesville, North Carolina to Marion and back to Statesville, before junior high school, was a product of his father’s doing and expertise. Jason is proud of his father’s credentials as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) who specialized in preparing patients for surgery. He was one of just a few medical specialists holding this position. He was in demand and was brought in to participate in various situations to assist in numerous surgical procedures.

During high school at Statesville High, Jason’s dad introduced him to woodworking and got them involved in a woodworking class together. This was destined to pay off in the years to come. They were an active family and shared many experiences together.

Jason ran track in high school and achieved State Championship recognition for the 1 and 2 mile events. Upon graduation, he said that he always wanted to be a Tar Heel, attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He applied and was accepted. There, he ran track for the first two years and then switched over to the crew team for the last two. Dingess graduated with a degree in economics, the beginning of his dream to own his own business, and a minor in exercise for sports science.

His first job out of the University was with a corporation in Washington, DC, Corporate Executive Board, selling strategic research to business to business clients and helping those clients drive corporate performance.

Jason always enjoyed meeting and talking to people which led him to his next job selling pharmaceuticals for Merck over the next two years. “This is where I learned to ask questions rather than selling features and benefits,” stated Dingess. His experience with Merck prepared him well to work for a hospital supply distributor and eventually for a medical device manufacturer, Stryker, in their Endoscopy Division, which manufactured minimally invasive surgical products. During this time, Dingess lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

Two years later, Dingess left Stryker, after a friend of his offered him an opportunity to join a growing company which specialized in web design. He moved to Asheville, North Carolina and worked closely with real estate companies helping them incorporate custom web sites developed by his employer. They had uncovered and developed a search engine optimization method in which it would continuously display these real estate firms whenever consumers would search using various terms.

Up to 2007, Dingess continued to dream of the day he could own his own business and he shared that dream again with his father. By July of that year, his father told him to look into woodworking. So he and his dad decided to take a class with Ben Hobbs, an 18th Century furniture maker, on the coast of North Carolina. “That was a great class,” said Dingess. “Hobbs is a great teacher!” When the class ended, Jason and his dad talked about the experience and discussed what was next. That was the moment when his father gave him the book that changed Jason’s life forever: A Cabinetmakers Notebook by James Krenov.

“After reading the book, I was hooked,” expressed Dingess. “The craft became this expression, a form of communication. It became a way of building a piece of furniture.” He continued, “The whole idea of asking questions and getting to know the client and understanding the wood and the tools and letting the piece come through the wood.”

Soon after, Dingess started his new job as an apprentice to Gary Rawlins of Gary Rawlins Fine Craftsmanship and Design in Mars Hill, North Carolina. Rawlins produces one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture that he calls “nature’s artwork.” Dingess spent his apprenticeship here for one year and, in 2008, he attended Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking, a James Krenov school. After studying here for two years, Dingess was offered a job with Brian Boggs Collective in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Boggs Collective is a group of craftsmen creating hand-made furniture of the highest caliber under the leadership of world renowned chairmaker Brian Boggs. “As a craftsman at the Boggs Collective, I worked under and in collaboration with the experienced eye of Brian Boggs, as well as my fellow craftsmen,” explained Dingess.

By 2011, Dingess started his own shop, Jason D. Fine Furniture, with two other woodworkers from Boggs. “It was my own custom woodworking business, which I had been building since the fall of 2010, and officially running successfully and full-time since January 2011,” explained Dingess. However, with the birth of his daughter, he had been looking to alter the business model so that it more accurately filled his needs at the time.

This is when a friend of his father, Mark Green, approached him and suggested that Jason look into selling woodworking machinery. With Jason’s history and experience in woodworking and capital equipment sales, he responded to Green, “That type of job just seems too perfect for me.” Dingess was destined to follow that advice.

Green gave Dingess contact information for CR Onsrud, along with Quis Machinery and one other company to follow up on. Dingess went after them all. “I was led to Frank Quis of Quis Machinery,” Dingess said. Quis had been thinking about retiring and so, over the next six months, Quis and Dingess discussed the various opportunities. After finally going to work at Quis, Jason and Frank decided that Jason should buy Quis Machinery and, on January 1, 2017, Dingess became the President/Owner of Quis Machinery, Inc.

From the very beginning of joining Quis, Dingess hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since. Between the three sales people and an extremely talented office manager, Ali Reznikoff, who not only manages the office, the sales calls, and constantly introduces new technology and added value to the firm, they all focus on each person’s individual strengths and offer that expertise to their customers and the industry.

Married to Corey back in 2009, they decided to add to their family by having three children, Ava 5, Miles 3, and Asher, 7 months. Corey has established her own company, Power of Flowers, which includes volunteers donating hours each year and scores of recipient facilities serving the ill, the elderly, veterans, and others in need of a lift by delivering joy, one flower at a time.

Dingess looks ahead with his goals centered on the company and his personal life. Besides his love and JDing2closeness to his family, Dingess is an avid backpacker and wants to hike the Mountains-to-Sea Trail within the next 10 years. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) is a long-distance trail, for hiking and backpacking, that runs across North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. “In all areas of my life, I just want to be the best version of me,” said Dingess.

He then mentioned Michael Burdis of James L. Taylor Manufacturing in Poughkeepsie, New York, another one of Quis Machinery’s top selling lines. Dingess said that every time he would visit the plant in Poughkeepsie, he felt different than when he would visit other plants. When he explained this feeling to Burdis, Michael stated that he believes it is because everybody there shows up and asks themselves what they can do to move the needle a little bit further, every day.

“What if we all said that to ourselves every day,” questioned Dingess. “Not what do I have to get done today, but rather, what could I do to move the needle closer to my goals, towards what I want to accomplish.”

That is how Jason Dingess tries to live every day. And, that is how he sees his future.

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