Dana Lonn | Managing Director, Center for Advanced Turf Technology (CATT)/The Toro Co.
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
What’s a day in the life for you in your job?
I suspect my day is a lot like many of yours. I have a number of administrative tasks, like budgets and people management. I spend a lot of time interacting with my associates within the company. I try and spend a substantial period of time solving customer problems. And I spend a lot of time with my staff working on future products and technologies.
What should golf course superintendents know about your company that they don’t already know?
The Toro Co. is pretty well known in the industry, having been around for a bit more than 100 years. What comes to mind is a conversation that I had with a greenkeeper from Europe earlier this summer. I asked him what he was surprised about during his visit to our home. He had two things to highlight. First, he was surprised that we knew his business so well. Second, he was surprised by all of the things that we’re working on; and even though he would not have thought about them, they made perfect sense to him. I don’t mean to be presumptuous. We do have a deep-rooted passion to strive to understand our customers’ business, their challenges, how they solve problems, and what is important for them to delight their customers. We will never completely achieve the goal, but we will continue to try. To use a good sports analogy: We spend a lot of time thinking about where the puck is going to be versus where it is right now.
When you’re gone from the golf industry, how do you want to be remembered?
I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time thinking about this topic, as I am within sight of retirement. I really don’t care if I’m remembered per se. What I do hope is that some of the people who follow behind me learned something from me that they consider valuable and has caused them to be more effective. As I think about my career, I have 10 or 20 people who taught me lessons that I’ve never forgotten. I hope that I’m on some people’s short list of people who influenced them and taught them a lesson they have never forgotten.
If you were born 100 years ago, what would you do for a living?
I really like math, science and technology. I have been fortunate to live during a time of explosive growth in our understanding of creation. I suspect that I would have been involved in the early phases of mechanization of society.
Best thing about the golf industry?
What’s the worst thing about the golf industry?
It may be a bit arrogant.
What golf course can’t you wait to get on and why?
I’ve had the privilege to be on many fine golf courses around the world. I can’t say there are any that I’ve not enjoyed the opportunity.
Describe golf course superintendents in one word?
Who would you rather play golf with –– Arnie or Jack? Why?
I would love to meet both of these legends. They have made significant contributions to this industry. I would rather talk with them about their view of the future. Their perspective would be a valuable data point for me as I try to imagine better ways to solve problems.
What do you like to do away from your job?
I’m a volunteer church treasurer, which I have done for more than 25 years. I do love to play golf with my friends.
What’s your favorite movie and why?
“In the Shadow of the Moon.” It’s a documentary that chronicles the space program. The people who are interviewed are the people who either landed on the moon or circled the moon — Charlie Duke, Mike Collins, Edgar Mitchell, Gene Cernan, John Young, Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell. What they have to say is incredibly profound.
Speaking of movies, who’s your favorite character from “Caddyshack” and why?
Dr. Beeper — “Probably just a routine emergency.”