Strength in Numbers

Durégo Lewis, BS’96, EMBA’06, finds success through teamwork

From the Spring 2010 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Durégo Lewis (second from right) with team members Lee Austin, Lyn Wilson, Robin English and Sara McKissick

Being part of a team is second nature to Durégo Lewis. Whether playing football for Vanderbilt in the mid-’90s or collaborating with classmates in the Executive MBA program a decade later, he has had plenty of opportunities to work with others toward a common goal. Yet nothing has crystallized the importance of those earlier experiences quite like his current endeavor: launching DURÉGO™, a business that is an events facility and a future showroom for exotic cars and other luxury goods.

“By myself there’s no way that I would be sitting here. This company is the result of being around smart people,” he says. “I’m only as good as the people on my team.”

That team includes a couple of names familiar to the Owen community—Associate Dean of Executive Education Tami Fassinger and Dr. Jim Jirjis, EMBA’06, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt. Both serve on the company’s advisory board. Lewis credits them and his other associates with helping him hone his business concept.

“This company looks nothing like what I thought it’d be, and I’m proud of that. They poked holes in that original business plan—pointing out all the things that could make it weak,” he says.

Earlier this year Lewis opened the doors to his 8,400-square-foot events facility in Brentwood, Tenn. Aside from hosting wedding receptions and corporate gatherings, the space will serve, he hopes, as a “mouthpiece for what’s coming two-doors down”—the yet-to-be-opened showroom specializing in exotic cars, including Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bentleys, exquisite jewelry and hard-to-find luxury handbags.

Among the advantages of selling multiple brands, Lewis explains, is that his company can offer a more robust product selection. “Think of it like a hand,” he says. “Each finger—or brand—is fragile by itself, but when you put them together as a fist, they’re strong.”

While Lewis may be referring to a specific business model, perhaps there’s no better analogy for the team he’s assembled at DURÉGO. Together they’re stronger than he would have been had he decided to go it alone.

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