My Story

My Story: Dean Hillis


I am from Utopia, TX – a small, rural town with fewer than 500 people within a 15-mile radius. Raised on a 12,000-acre cattle ranch, we were efficient in getting the job accomplished with what we had on hand. My family and the community taught us that developing relationships and partnerships was the only way. Lessons included providing respect, working hard, having fun, being open to new ideas, being true to your word, knowing you don’t know everything and attempting to see from others’ perspective.

Abilene Christian University was my first career move. Graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in industrial management and quality control, I was off to make my mark in the world. Architecture was my first choice of jobs, stemming from my grandpa’s and my dad’s unique skills to build anything.

However, sitting behind a desk all day did not fit my personality. Through my parents’ relationship and the gracious offer of a successful businessman, I relocated to Arlington, TX, for an opportunity with a prominent civil and environmental engineering firm. The owner and his partners were highly respected and provided a vast mentorship.

In 1988, with OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency rolling out new regulations and becoming a requirement for business planning/stewardship, one of the firm’s partners offered me a chance to work with him to establish a compliance department. Little did I know his offer would be my decided career future.

Many people find regulatory compliance monotonous and frustrating. However, for individuals who enjoy diversity, investigation and interaction with all facets of business and teamwork, it is the perfect job. Now having been in the environmental, health and safety industry for more than 30 years, I can truly say that I have found my way to change or influence the world (leave my mark).

My career has allowed me to meet the best in business and overcome those who have placed roadblocks in my path. I have learned that as an individual, we must see tasks/problems as “opportunities to excel.” Influencing those we come in contact with should exemplify leading by example and offering the lessons learned during my upbringing.

I have been privileged to be associated with others willing to share their experiences and to collectively build unified success. No words can express my debt to everyone I have come in contact with. Each has influenced me and contributed to my success.

The greatest gift you can share is love for mankind and assisting in their individual success.

Dean Hillis
Director, Environmental Health and Safety
Richemont North America Inc.
Grand Prairie, TX

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