Trinity Dawson is the CEO of the largest, fully minority-owned energy manufacturing and service company in the nation–Integrated Utility Service (IUS).
IUS, a full-scale integrated service company, launched in October 2021 and serves the energy industry by producing high-quality products, optimizing end-user supply strategies, and offering innovative solutions for their project needs.
The Houston-based company recently reached a milestone of acquiring the assets of the New Jersey Stuart Steel Protection Corporation, a manufacturer, packager and master distributor of corrosion control products and is positioned to make big strides in the Houston area.
Before transitioning into entrepreneurship, Dawson was a passionate contemporary gospel artist and talented running back for the University of Toledo, a Division 1 school.
The Defender spoke to Dawson about the new acquisition and the latest updates with Integrated Utility Services in Houston.
Defender: Tell our audience about yourself.
Trinity Dawson: I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I came from a very musical family. My dad used to play for Rick James and then he ended up playing for a Christian group. And then my mom was a singer, I have a sister on Broadway and another sister sings in New York. My parents eventually split when I was two years old, and we ended up in a tough spot as a family; a single mom with four young children. I believe we were in Cincinnati living in a shelter at the time. A family we knew in Detroit called my mom to encourage her to leave the shelter and move there. They adopted our family and looked out for us. Even though it was a tough situation, we still had a community and family.
Defender: Your interest in entrepreneurship started through a community outreach program in Detroit. What was it about?
Dawson: I atteneded this community center called ‘Joy of Jesus.’ It was really one of the first places outside of my home where I was being mentored, people encouraged me, and reminded me that I’m not a product of my circumstances. My mom ended up being the executive director. There was a man by the name of Eddy Edwards who started the community center. He was an executive at General Motors before taking the leap to launch the center. He had an entrepreneurship program at Joy of Jesus and I anticipated that at some point I was going to start a business and invest in people.
Defender: Did you have connections with the Houston community prior to owning your company?
Dawson: I started with a company called Red Man Pipe and Supply. It was a family-run business and I know the Ketchum family very well. During college, I was playing a football game on ESPN and one of the big college announcers by the name Craig James made a comment saying that if this guy isn’t playing [football] I could see him running a Fortune 500 company one day. So, Craig Ketchum, the owner of Red Man Pipe and Supply heard that and it stuck with him. When I came back to Tulsa to visit friends, he said he knew that everything was going well with football and to promise him whenever I’m ready to jump in the business to call him. My focus was the NFL at the time. My junior year of college I had an injury and figured out how to manage it, but didn’t really fix it, so it ended up being degenerative. So, the NFL door was officially closed. I went ahead and took Craig up on his word and called him. The company was based out of Tulsa but Goldman Sachs bought the majority interest in Red Man Pipe and Supply and another called McJunkin Corporation and merged them. We turned it into MRC Global [McJunkin Red Man Corporation], and that is the company that ultimately moved me to Houston. Working in oil and gas is what brought me to Houston.
Defender: What challenges did you see in the sector that encouraged you to launch your business?
Dawson: One of the main things that I saw when I moved away as the vice president of gas utilities for MRC Global… I was responsible for all the business development efforts primarily in North America. I saw that there was a tremendous amount of strain on capacity in the industry. I also saw where the industry wanted to support diverse communities and people and didn’t know how to make that happen. And there wasn’t a lot of organizations or entities of diverse backgrounds that they could partner with. I was intentionally trying to seek out other people to support and it was a challenge. We saw an opportunity to fill in the gaps.
Defender: Recently, IUS made a big move with an acquisition of the New Jersey-based manufacturer. What does that mean for the community?
Dawson: It’s a huge deal for us because it allows us to get out of the visionary space. We don’t have to have our heads in the clouds trying to think big picture, we can actually put our feet on the ground and move forward. It’s huge for us as far as setting a foundation for our business to expand relationships with distribution partners and customers. It’s major for the community because it expands diversity within the energy space. Ultimately, I think those dollars will reach the communities that we are connected with. I’m a mentor for a program called Mufasa’s Pride here in Houston. We work with them and the young men between 12-18 years old to set them up for success. I’m connected with the church out here called Fountain of Praise. They put on all kinds of events for the community. A major one is the Epiphany benefit concert, and we fully expect to be a major sponsor for that. Partnership and community impact is key as we strengthen and define success as an organization.