Leadership Dallas: Building relationships that matter

Hattie Peterson, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, TDIndustries

Hattie Peterson can trace landing a dream job to her involvement in Leadership Dallas.

At an event for Peterson’s Leadership Dallas Class of 2013, Jack Lowe Jr. spoke to the group about servant leadership, the model he followed as Chairman of the Board at TDIndustries, and the importance of accountability as a member of the Dallas ISD School Board.

“He talked about the school district’s financial struggles. While he wasn’t a part of the board when the problems occurred, he said, ‘I’m accountable. It’s my responsibility to do what I need to do to make this right,’” Peterson says.

She was so moved by his message that she was eager to apply for an opening when company officials sought a new marketing director.

As the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Peterson helps get out the message about TDIndustries’ approach to serving customers and the community.

“I’m really passionate about providing value and being that trusted partner to our clients and to the community,” she says. “I emphasize the importance of face-to-face communications and trying to accelerate the speed of trust.”

Every project encounters obstacles, Peterson says, but the parties can find solutions and move forward faster if they’ve established a positive working relationship.

Lowe — who also served as CEO from 1980 to 2004 — retired from the company’s board at the end of 2016, but his model of serving customers, the community, and employees continues as part of TDIndustries’ DNA, Peterson says.

While the company has grown far beyond its start in 1946 as a small Dallas air-conditioning business to open offices throughout Texas and Phoenix, Arizona, it maintains a strong presence in North Texas.

Peterson says that the company’s biggest recent mechanical construction projects include the new Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Arlington’s Globe Life Field, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Frisco, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport’s massive remodeling, and JPMorgan Chase in Frisco.

In addition to designing and building air-conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems, TDIndustries also provides service on systems for a variety of local clients such as Denton ISD, the city of Coppell, and American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth.

For Peterson, serving others is a theme that goes beyond the workplace, and Leadership Dallas plays a role there, too.

Each year, up to 55 people are selected to participate in Leadership Dallas, a 10-month educational program to develop leaders in the region. As part of their training, members select, develop, and execute a community service project.

Peterson’s Class of 2013 established the Leadership Dallas Reading Advancement Center with the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club to enhance the reading skills of area kids.

She is drawn to projects such as the reading center because of the focus on children.

“I’ve always had a passion for youth and education,” Peterson says.

Both her parents were involved in education. Her father worked at a university and her mom was a fifth-grade teacher.

“My parents worked hard to ensure my brother and I had outside experiences to enhance our education,” Peterson says.

She remains passionate about helping children learn. Peterson has been involved with Big Thought, a youth development organization. Peterson met Byron Sanders, the CEO of Big Thought, through Leadership Dallas. Big Thought aims to help at-risk kids develop creativity and critical thinking skills through camps, after-school programs, and academic support.
Peterson also worked with kids through a foundation she started called Our Lands and Waters. The group’s mission is to revitalize parks around Corps of Engineers’ lakes.

“It’s a place for people in urban areas to get in nature,” she says.
In recent years, the group offered water safety programs for kids and took school groups on field trips to see dinosaur tracks at Lake Lewisville.
Peterson remains active with Leadership Dallas through its alumni programs. This year, she is helping organize the 2020 Leadership Dallas Alumni Community Day. On Jan. 25, alumni members will spend half a day helping in a variety of projects, from a Dallas elementary school and Trinity River Mission to Dallas Animal Services and Brother Bills Helping Hand, which operates a food pantry and community clinic.

Outside of business hours, Peterson is “a classic minivan mom,” taking her two kids to cheer, dance, and church events, with a lot of help from her husband, Carl.

She’s thankful for her busy life with family, work, and the community.

“I’m blessed to be in the DFW Metroplex building solid relationships because it’s the one-on-one relationships that really matter,” Peterson says.

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