A short walk from Eastern in a new location on Meadow Street is D & W Development and Design Center East, where Mark Dressler ’79 and his half brother, Michael Weitz ’88, have built their family- owned construction business from the ground up. They began by working for local landlords on simple home repairs and eventually decided to strike out on their own and start a business.
“Opening the business presented an enormous learning curve,” explained Dressler, who graduated with a degree in psychology and had no prior experience running a business. “If I had known then what I needed to know, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”
While Dressler says he did not know everything that he needed to about running a construction business, he did know the importance of communication and customer service, and he had his Eastern education to fall back on. At Eastern he learned how to organize his thoughts, write coherently and precisely, and how to solve problems. “That’s the biggest gift any University can give you,” said Dressler.
With those tools at his disposal, the business has grown and is now in a position to give back to the community. Dressler and Weitz contribute to local nonprofits and make sure that they support other local businesses. Dressler says he hires local accountants and lawyers and buys most of his building supplies and materials from local stores. He also purchases vehicles for both business and personal use locally, knowing that supporting local businesses puts resources back into the community.
Dressler’s relationship with the community doesn’t end with his business. He built his home in Willimantic, his wife teaches in town and at Eastern, and his daughter, Kerin Jaros-Dressler ’09, volunteers with the theater guild. Dressler speaks highly of Eastern and the positive changes he has seen there over the years. He makes sure to give back to the university, largely in thanks for what the school has provided his daughter.