Spotlight: Stephen Dawes
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 7, 2018) - Every race weekend Stephen Dawes plays multiple roles for Performance Tech Motorsports, a testament to his life as both business owner and chemical engineer.
Most recognize Dawes as the driver of the No. 22 MPC in the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series. Along with driving, Dawes also looks over strategy and data for Performance Tech. In the previous year, he also helped with tires and acted as part of the pit crew for the No. 38 Centinel Spine/ Restitute Health Prototype. However, during the week, Dawes plays a vastly different role.
Dawes owns and operates A.I.G. Technologies Inc. A.I.G. Technologies is a qualify developer and manufacturer of personal care, cosmetic, over-the-counter and pharmaceutical topical drug products. As an FDA registered manufacturer, A.I.G. Technologies produces many products for various private label companies and is invested in the project from start to finish.
Dawes and his team are capable of constructing the formula for client’s products as well as the scaling and manufacturing of those products. Dawes personal background lays in various areas of the cosmetic chemistry field; working to both formulate and develop manufacturing procedures. He has brought his expertise to companies like Procter & Gamble, Key West Aloe and Solar Cosmetic Labs.
“We’re a small-scale manufacturer,” Dawes said. “We don’t own any of the brands or products we produce. Companies or entrepreneurs will come to us with only a product idea or a benchmark product to match or improve. We develop a formulation to their requirements and prepare laboratory samples for the client to review and approve. Once the formulation is approved, we assist the client with packaging options and scale-up the laboratory batch to full production. As a contract manufacturer, we offer batch sizes to meet virtually every client’s needs.”
Dawes’ day-to-day as President and Technical Director includes developing new products, managing the production schedule, and managing accounts receivable. Dawes’ wife helps balance the workload of owning a company. Charlene Dawes is vice president and Quality Director at A.I.G. Technologies and oversees quality control and assurance, procurement, and accounts payable.
While the two have spent a majority of their work lives in cosmetic chemistry, it was not Dawes’ original goal. It took a potentially fatal chemical reaction to place him on his intended course.
“The first job I had outside of college was strictly chemical engineering,” Dawes said. “It was analyzing metals for contaminates at ppb range, so I was dissolving metals in acids and bases, just nasty liquid chemistry. One of my workmates made a critical error while setting up a piece of analytical equipment. "
“She could have exposed the lab to hydrogen cyanide – that would have been the end of me and the lab. That was my last day working in that lab. So, I went back to SUNY Binghamton, the college I attended, to follow up on companies that had just presented at a job fair.”
Luckily, corporate giant P&G was on the board. Dawes gave P&G a call, took an interview, and was eventually offered a job working the Oil of Olay line. It was his first foray into cosmetic chemistry and where he built a solid background. His job at P&G was also where he would meet his wife, Charlene. It was Charlene that would eventually lead the couple from Connecticut to the Midwest to her home state of Florida where Stephen would get the final push to start A.I.G. Technologies.
In Florida, Dawes worked for Key West Aloe and Solar Cosmetic labs where he indirectly began a private label business while also developing products for the companies where he worked. It wasn’t until Playtex, owners of Banana Boat and Baby Magic, approached Dawes in hopes of hiring him as a process consultant that he considered working for himself.
“I began this private label business while at Key West Aloe by developing formulas for doctors,” Dawes said. “When I left Key West Aloe, the doctors followed me. During my off hours, I continued to develop physician formulations while at Solar Cosmetic Labs. I worked with a dozen different doctors utilizing local contract manufacturers to produce their products. That’s when a colleague of mine from P&G, currently working for Playtex, came to me and wanted me to do consulting.
“At first, I told him I had a job and couldn’t do it. I sent him a list of people I thought would work for him. It’s a small industry, so you don’t want to burn bridges. But, he came back and told me they needed me. Charlene was doing well at Oracle at the time, so I took a shot and started consulting.”
Dawes drew nearer to his current success by creating a thriving consulting business with Playtex. He took money made by consulting and invested in his future by purchasing manufacturing equipment for the contract manufacturers making his formulations. Eventually consulting was cut from Playtex.
“They decided they were no longer going to use consultants,” Dawes said. “The next step was to start our own company. A.I.G. Technologies was up and running in a week. We were manufacturing. We started in a 4500 square foot building in Miami. As we grew, we moved into three 7,500 square foot buildings in Pompano Beach. We’ve been in our current building nine years; it’s 40 thousand square feet. It has offices, labs, manufacturing areas, and warehousing.”
“We naturally just kept growing. Growing larger creates more problems, but you do make more money. There are significantly less headaches staying small, but you earn less. I think the most stress we’ve had was due to quick growth. We have a responsibility for people’s lives. They rely on my decisions for a paycheck.”
Dawes attributes his success to having always kept his options open and never closing doors.
Dawes next option to go racing with the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series takes place at VIRginia International Raceway, Aug. 17-19, for the GT Challenge at VIR with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The race can be viewed live with IMSA.tv or watched on FOX Sports 2 Thursday, Sept. 6.