Personality: Jeanne Dailey

Personality: Jeanne DaileyThe Pinnacle of Passion, Professionalism and Poise in Business
By Christy Kearney

As owner and chief executive officer of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, Jeanne Dailey is proof positive that poise matched with hard work, business acumen and integrity can produce 25 successful years in the tourism industry.

Dailey’s business savvy and approachability is perhaps a product of the Toledo, Ohio, native’s Midwestern roots combined with the Southern charm she’s picked up from her adopted home along the Emerald Coast.

After following a roommate from East Carolina University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing, to Northwest Florida in the mid-1980s, Dailey interviewed with Randy Newman, who was in the process of building a new real estate and resort properties management company. Dailey proved to be the right fit for the position and made Destin her home. With her new diploma in hand and an eagerness to enter the business world, Dailey took a two-week crash broker’s course and began developing the rental program, selling properties, keeping the books and researching homeowner association opportunities.

“I found out I just loved business,” Dailey says of her early years at work. Select members of the small but growing Destin business community helped her with the framework for the fledgling company, then she took the plan and ran with it. “I guess I just had some good instincts,” she recalls with a smile.

Dailey has never been afraid to follow her gut, and her willingness to take on a challenge paved the way for her success. She helped launch Newman-Dailey Resort Properties in 1985, and by 1988 she was the sole owner of the company, poised to find a place in the emerging Destin tourism market. Dailey not only discovered that place, but also has been instrumental in establishing Northwest Florida as a tourism destination.

Experience Pays Off

In April 2010, Dailey celebrated her company’s 25th anniversary, but not without a gray haze — namely the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill — tingeing the festivities. Dailey recalls poor real estate economies and hurricanes of the past quarter century, but confesses the oil spill has been one of the biggest challenges of her career. “It’s made me a stronger business person than I think I’ve ever been before,” says Dailey, joking that she has upgraded from lotion to turtle wax for the hard outer shell she’s developed in business.

Dailey says her past experiences were encouraging as she faced the challenges of 2010. She comforted her nervous staff, telling them: “I have no idea how to survive an oil spill. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I can tell you that 27 years ago when I graduated from college and I moved to this town, I had no idea how to run a rental program. I had no idea how to run a sales division or to make a successful association management division. In 1995, I had no idea how to survive a major hurricane like Hurricane Opal, but every time I figured it out. And, I’ll figure it out this time, too, and we’ll survive it and be stronger and be better for it.” Dailey’s instincts were right again. Already, 2011 is off to a strong start with the continued support of her loyal customer base and the addition of Hidden Dunes Beach Resort to the company’s repertoire of accommodations and real estate sales.

Paying It Forward

When Dailey is not running her 50-employee company, she is actively involved with numerous community initiatives. “I feel so blessed to have come to this community, to live in this community, raise my children in this community and have a great business in this community,” says Dailey. “I feel so positively and so strongly about this community that I want to give back. It is part of my responsibility.”

Giving back is what she has done. And now she has her thumb on the pulse of many community organizations, including United Way, the Philharmonic Society of Northwest Florida, Eglin Installation Growth Committee, Sacred Heart Foundation, Scenic Corridor Association Board, Destin Rotary Club, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce and the Walton County Tourist Development Council, to name a few. She’s also an active member of Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association and Vacation Rental Managers Association, presenting at the organization’s annual national conference.

Like many of Dailey’s community projects, her work with United Way allows her to utilize her business skills. While serving as the chairperson, she worked with the board of directors to create a strategic plan for the organization which led to the launch of Leaders Edge, a program designed to teach leaders of nonprofit agencies how to be strong business leaders. Dailey says she is excited about the prospect of United Way not only serving as a fundraising vehicle for these organizations, but also helping them become more solid, effective businesses.

Family First

For Dailey, who has been a single mother for much of her career, family is the most important aspect of her life. She has two children — Tiffany, 24, and Ryan, 22 — and she considers her employees her extended family.

Dailey has created a work culture based on care and respect. The Newman-Dailey headquarters in Destin’s Fountain Plaza is warm, relaxed and inviting — a reflection of the woman in charge — yet, as one of the main check-in locations for the company in Destin and South Walton, the office is on point and focused on catering to guests and owners. The company culture Dailey has fostered is another example of how she interweaves her personal and professional sensibilities.

As one of the only female chief executive officers of a business Newman-Dailey’s size in Northwest Florida, the hospitality veteran has always focused on the work and not the perceived obstacles. “My philosophy has been to do the best that I can each and every day, holding my head up high, doing it honestly and as fairly as I can,” she says.

Dailey draws from the joy she finds in her own work to guide her staff and young professionals. “Do something that’s fun and challenging,” she encourages. “You have to be willing to fail, and it’s OK if you do because it’s just research.”

She believes the secret to her success has been her willingness to take risks. Dailey is thrilled her business made it to the silver anniversary, but is even more excited about the 25 years ahead. She compares the challenges and excitement of the hospitality industry to an “unbelievable rollercoaster.” Fortunately for her, her employees, her clients and the entire Destin and South Walton communities, Dailey is not just along for the ride, but leading the way. “I love roller coasters,” she laughs. “I’ll be in the front car with my hands in the air, screaming and hollering.”