Dallas Cothrum is the CEO of LaBarba Permit Service, a premier alcoholic beverage license service in Dallas, TX. He was a recent guest on PlayMakers Talk Show, a podcast that features interviews with some of the best minds in business.
While on the show, Cothrum shared stories about his life and wisdom about his job, and reflected on his career’s unique trajectory. He offered up insight on moving from being a professor to being a businessman, being diplomatic and effective when working with City Hall and how coaching and refereeing helped prepare him for a life in business.
Becoming a businessman
LaBarba Permit Service recently celebrated 50 years in business. It’s a family business, but Cothrum wasn’t sure at first whether he wanted to join it. In fact, after going to graduate school at the United States Military Academy, Cothrum became a professor at UT Tyler.
“I had anticipated going to graduate school, completed my studies and had hoped to become a college president,” Cothrum said. “I don’t know why anybody goes to college to become a college president, but it seemed like a good job to me. And so in some senses I thought I’d always wanted to be an executive.”
When he was teaching in East Texas, Cothrum would help the family business from time to time.
“I know how to deal with people and make effective presentations,” he said.
Finally, the then-president of LaBarba Permit Service showed up at his office hours, and told him he needed to come home and help the business thrive.
“Had it been a family member that said that, that wouldn’t have been as effective,” he remembered.
Cothrum took a year of absence from his professorship, and determined that leading LaBarba Permit Service was the right move for him.
Cothrum is now the CEO of both LaBarba and Masterplan, a developer.
Working with City Hall
When asked what her husband does for a living, Cothrum’s wife answers, “He fights City Hall.”
“We’re in the public policy business, and we’re in the influencing business,” Cothrum said. “But we really try to find projects that work, and that everybody benefits from.”
In his capacity as the leader of both LaBarba and Masterplan, Cothrum must often work with cities and counties to ensure a smooth project.
“We work, really, at the tip of the spear,” he said. And that’s not always a comfortable place to be, because people do not like change.”
In fact, Cothrum’s experience as a basketball coach and referee helped prepare him for dealing with sometimes hostile citizens.
“When you do a great job [refereeing], they’re yelling at you from both sides of the gym,” he said. “When I go to a neighborhood meeting, I have been put in much more hostile situations, and you have to learn to take care of yourself and not let people get the best of you.”
At the end of the day, Cothrum said, he’s learned things usually go well as long as he’s thoughtful about his business strategy.
“What we try to do is come up with the right strategy,” he said. “Coming up with the right strategy is just critically important in everything you do.”
Listen to Cothrum’s visit to PlayMakers Talk Show here, and reach out to LaBarba Permit Service for more information about our alcoholic beverage license service in Dallas, TX!