Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed
By Eric Wright
We live in a culture, especially lately, where much is defined in terms of “winners and losers” It’s one reason for the furor around professional sports. Similarly, when one company wins a contract or a community wins a relocation project, another potentially loses.
However, in the world of business “strategic negotiators” are tasked with uniting parties and structuring deals to the benefit of all concerned, so everyone involved becomes a winner. These negotiators flourish in an atmosphere of public and private transparency, and are able to inspire the kind of trust that is essential to any major and lasting transaction.
This art of deal-making is what Bill Dymond, CEO and president of the law firm of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., has spent his career refining. It is a specialty the entire firm has built a positive reputation for, and one they are expanding on the Space Coast.
One example of this negotiating skill is evidenced in the Parramore neighborhood in downtown Orlando. As a past president and chair of the Florida Citrus Sports Association, Dymond was a key player in transforming the aging Citrus Bowl sports stadium into a world-class venue, now branded as Camping World Stadium. The investment is paying unimagined dividends, and residual dollars to the area: from hosting a sold-out Rolling Stones concert to the NCAA football season opener between Ole Miss and Florida State, in addition to two top 10 post season college bowl games and this season’s NFL Pro Bowl, which for the last 36 years has been hosted in Hawaii. LIFT Orlando, which he helped co-found, is working to bring a similar renaissance to the surrounding community as well, intent on breaking the generational cycle of poverty and lifting residents to a better life.
Dymond also was the lead negotiator for ensuring the future viability and prestige of the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (f/k/a the Capital One Bowl) and the Russell Athletic Bowl by securing multi-year television agreements with ABC and ESPN. Additionally, he helped close selection agreement deals with the Big 10, SEC, ACC and the Big Twelve conferences, which was a formative coup in the highly competitive world of sports marketing.
Perhaps his most far reaching venture (literally) has been as a board member for Enterprise Florida, which operates much like our regional Economic Development Organization to promote economic development statewide. Appointed by Speaker Dean Cannon to serve on the Enterprise Florida Board, Dymond was equally pleased when Governor Scott asked him to serve on Space Florida’s board. “I grew up in the Apollo era and was always fascinated with space, so being on the Space Florida board was a thrill,” he said. “When Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll stepped down, Gov. Scott asked me to serve as interim chair, and then he appointed me as chair.”
Now serving his fourth year on the Board and as Chair at Space Florida, Dymond has been directly involved in leading the state into the next chapter of space exploration and commercial utilization.
A Spacious Future
Dymond, who grew up in Latrobe, PA – the same hometown as golfing legend Arnold Palmer – is one of those rare individuals who, from a very young age (7) knew what he wanted to be: a lawyer. Recruited right out of law school, he moved to Orlando to work for the Lowndes law firm which, at the time, had just 25 lawyers compared to over 90 that work there today. He didn’t see a lot of promise in western Pennsylvania in the mid 80’s, while Central Florida was expanding dramatically. “Everything here was new and bright, people were positive and upbeat, that was attractive to me,” Dymond recalls.
“Now, there is a paradigm shift away from what the pattern was for over 50 years, from a government-directed space program, towards a commercial space industry.” The key to moving forward is understanding how Florida will keep its edge as the premier spaceport in America while continuing its growth in aerospace manufacturing. “We have a history, that no place else shares, so when the world thinks of space, they think of east central Florida,” Dymond mused. “Of course, with the end of the Space Shuttle program it looked like it was all in jeopardy, but Space Florida deserves a lot of credit for where things are trending.”
Space Florida operates much like the Port Authority does for Port Canaveral or the Aviation Authority does for the Melbourne Orlando International Airport, overseeing Florida’s interests in the space ports within the state (there is a second space port located in Jacksonville). Space Florida also serves as the economic development entity for space and aerospace within the state, with a focus on recruitment of aerospace companies, educational initiatives and workforce development which the industry requires, though it is not a funded government entity.
“I see the trend towards commercial space continuing for the future. We’ve attracted the billionaires, three of whom are very active in the region right now (Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, Elon Musk of SpaceX and Greg Wyler of OneWeb)” Dymond pointed out. “The most encouraging trend is we are not just launching, we are manufacturing and we are going to continue manufacturing in the future. That is a huge step forward for Florida and the Space Coast. The ripple effect is substantial because for every launch there is a huge supply chain impact. When you see a major automotive plant, you see supply companies adjacent to them. The same thing can happen here.
“Think about it, OneWeb intends to launch 900 satellites to circle the globe.” That is incredibly impactful, indeed.
Collaboration and Consensus
Though Dymond says his most important role in these large-scale projects is to “stay out of the way,” he has been instrumental as an advisor and “sounding board for these very complex and sophisticated contracts.” It is an expertise he is recognized for throughout the state. “There were eight or nine entities involved in the Northrup Grumman deal, which makes for a very intricate set of negotiations. Each of these organizations is a crucial player in landing something like this.
“Collaboration is the key on these types of projects and now much of it is able to be handled at the state and local level. Working together we are able to make it happen. With this new entrepreneurial spirit that is guiding the latest wave of space development in the commercial sector, more happens regionally,” he said.
When the discussion turns to economic development, employer incentives usually are not far behind. Dymond firmly believes incentives must remain in the attraction and retention tool box for negotiating big contracts. “Personally, I think it is a mistake to completely do away with closing funds to attract companies; the competition with other states and other nations is just too great,” he said.
Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed saw their increasing work at the space center and the airport here as reason enough to open offices in Brevard. Their practice here focuses on emerging businesses and corporate entity formation, manufacturers and supply chain management, real estate, employment and immigration, and intellectual property, which is critical to the technology industry.
Win-Win Really Benefits All Sides
Dymond and his firm have an international reputation for skilled negotiations and are happy to impart some of the wisdom they’ve gleaned over the years. “There is no substitute for preparation and becoming, to some degree, a subject matter expert on the issues and industry, along with understanding the players in the negotiation and their perspectives.”
“The important point you’ll find is that really good negotiators find a path,” he continued, “which everyone can accept. You may crush the other side and get the WIN, with capital letters in one transaction. But what about the second negotiation? They will remember that the next time. If you find a way to achieve your objectives, but also find a way where there is something in it for everyone, that is the key to long term success.”
“The same is true with our region. We are no longer simply Brevard competing with Orange County or vice versa; we are competing with the world. We, as a region, have to be on the same page and speak with one voice; every sector, business, economic development office, workforce organization…we all have to work together.”