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Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023

7 Over Seventy – Jim Dunn

Jim Dunn | 70 | Chief Executive Airtel Plaza Hotel, Van Nuys Do you think you have what it takes to work well into your 70s, or even into the following decade? You might want to talk to Ron Tutor, 74, chief executive of Tutor Perini Corp., a publicly traded construction contractor. He still puts in 50- to 60-hour weeks, though he admits to delegating more than in the past. “I oversee as opposed to execute.” Or Stuart Solomon, the 76-year-old head of a Woodland Hills property services firm. He is shutting down his physical offices and creating a virtual company. “We need to stay ahead on technology because it’s changing.” Get the picture? Read about our seven executives, 70 or older, with unique approaches for how to succeed in business at a time when many of their former colleagues are just getting up for breakfast. How many hours a week do you work? About 30 to 40. Why not retire? It isn’t appealing. I enjoy what I do. The hotel business is always vibrant. Every day there is a matinee and evening performance. Does your family want you to retire? Here’s the sweet spot. My wife works in the hotel. My son works in the hotel. It’s a pretty good setup – I get to see my child most days and I get to be with my wife. What is the best part of working at 70? I can take time off and know the company’s well-run. What’s the biggest challenge of working at 70? The influence of not-well-run government agencies and the mandated minimum wage. That’s what eventually will put me out of business. The challenges are the EPA, the AQMD (Air Quality Management District), the Department of Airports. If you check with anybody at this airport, they will agree with me. Also, excessive lawsuits. Otherwise, life is good. What excites you? Reconstruction of the “Casablanca” hangar. I have the original façade that appeared in the movie. It’s an iconic piece of aviation and movie history that I would like to integrate into the hotel. It’s for fun, not finance. What advice would you give people who want to work past 65? As long as you are nimble and enjoy your work, continue doing it. Surround yourself with confident, invigorating, humorous people. What’s the best advice you ever got? Be on time. And don’t spend what you don’t have. It’s pedestrian, but it pays off. What’s the secret to staying healthy and active? It’s not the years, it’s the mileage. The more you come to work, the more your No. 1 engine – your brain – is getting a workout. I still do a lot of math in my head. How has your work routine changed? I’ve carved out a lot of time for travel. The most interesting place is Iceland. It’s a very intelligent, well-kept nation. Also, I went to Timbuktu, which really does exist. I like to go to goofy places. What do you like best about your job? I’m right next to an airport. As a former fixed-wing and helicopter pilot – I don’t fly anymore – I like the activity. How much fun is it to watch airplanes come and go all day? – Joel Russell

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.

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