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Neighbors
Dean Eisner devotes his time to education, business, recreation and the community.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 9 years ago

Neighbors: Dean Eisner

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by: Mallory Gnaegy A&E Editor

Longboater Dean Eisner is a former Atlanta businessman who retired to Longboat Key at the ripe old age of 53.

“Well, some people call it retired,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m not working a nine-to-five anymore.”

He is the former president and CEO of Manheim, a $3.8 billion leading automotive wholesale business. He now does consulting work for other companies; he spends time with corporate boards, private equity firms and small businesses to help them plan for growth.

He splits his time between “four buckets,” he says: business, community, recreation and education.

Although he’s lived here permanently for two years, he’s an active board member for upward of a half-dozen organizations in Atlanta and Detroit. He’s recently joined the board of Ringling College of Art and Design.
For recreation, he sails, sees performing arts, plays golf and tennis, enjoys film and reading and likes to travel.

Perhaps the most impressive “bucket” on his list is his selfless devotion to education. Not only does he give lectures on best business practices, but he works with students one-on-one at several universities around the country, such as University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and Ringling.

“My hope is to give you a fishing pole, I’m not catching your fish for you,” he says. “(I plan) to open people’s minds, have them think for themselves and make introductions (they need).”

Through these lectures and student meetings, he realized that they want to have their ideas developed. It was this realization that led him to beginning a new project. It isn’t the first program of its kind, but it would be the first in this area.

It is just a concept at this point and is still in the early stages. Eisner will primarily focus on students at universities on the Gulf Coast, but it wouldn’t be limited to students. The project will take those with business ideas and set them up with a retired or active business executive to act as a mentor, which will help them make their idea “business-viable.”

“(The idea) will become sound enough, meaty enough and (they have put) enough thought into it to actually launch (their idea),” Eisner explains.

Eventually he hopes to have offers from successful business people, who will help fund the students’ ideas. It was an idea spurred by a discussion called “Imagination Conversation” at Ringling.

This type of encouraging mentorship is something his father did for him.

“I don’t think I’d have as successful of a career without him,” Eisner says. “I think he would be proud I was helping others.”

Eisner is the father of two children. His 21-year-old son, Matthew, attends Eisner’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, and is studying at the Ross Business School. And his daughter, Sarah, is turning 16.

“I like helping kids, and I think college kids have formed where they want to go but don’t understand (how to get there),” he says.

He hopes that this program will inspire a younger generation to become robust in the area and inspire a new voice in the community.

“I believe in young people,” he says. “They are a critical part of the fabric of our community.”

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