Los Angeles, CA — Mention companies flying under the radar to Bettye Dixon, and you can hear the “you’ve got me” laughter in her voice.
Staying low key and operating her business is her motto, and something Dixon has done for the more than 20 years that she has owned and served as chief executive officer of Concourse Concessions Inc., (CCI). The firm is one of the few disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) doing business in the airport duty free stores sector of retailing.
Understanding how important it is to just do your business, is something Dixon most likely inherited from her father and his brothers, who all headed their own companies.
She created CCI in 1992, after serving as chief operating officer and managing partner of Mir Kanon/Peideau Inc., another minority-owned airport retailer, which was successful enough to graduate from the DBE program because the company exceeded gross sales of $30 million for more than three consecutive years.
Her time with Mir Kanon helped Dixon learn the ins and outs of running a retail airport shop, but nothing could have prepared her for some of the challenges that came her way as she developed her company to its present size of more than $20 million in gross sales annually.
The first event to impact Dixon happened Dec. 8, 2000; it was the death of her beloved husband, Congressman Julian C. Dixon.
“The pivotal point in my business career was when my husband passed way,” said Dixon. “He was my friend, my counselor, my mentor and my conscious. He was my anchor who would keep me from going off too far in the wrong direction. From that point on, I was on my own.”
Julian, then 66, died unexpectedly of a heart attack following minor gall bladder surgery.
Following her husband’s death, it was speculated that Dixon would run for the Los Angeles seat he had held for more than 20 years, but she quickly disabused people of that notion, saying that she had a business to run that kept her very happy.
She also said in a published report at the time, that the district needed a professional, and “in the political arena, I’m an amateur.”
The second event that would have a major impact on her life and business was the 9/11 attack by Al-Queda on the United States.
Americans stop flying, and travel-related businesses nose dived. companies big and small were forced to lay-off employees and even close.
But Dixon refused to lay-off a single employee, even as her company’s revenue plummeted.
“I am most proud of being able to guide my small company through the economic problems that arose after the tragedy of 911 to its current status as an emerging DBE with gross sales of over $20 million per year,” said Dixon of her actions.
That sense of loyalty is reflected in her business dealings, and has been instrumental in earning Dixon numerous awards. Among those are being selected as the 2006 African American Business of the year by the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, and being awarded the Minority Retail Firm of the Year (in 2006) by the University of Southern California’s Minority Enterprise.
On March 13, she will be honored for her outstanding business contributions by being inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Women Business Owners-Los Angeles.
The Hall of Fame winners represent the quintessential entrepreneurs who strive for excellence in everything that she does and has given back extensively to her community.