Thomas Dundon Wiki
Thomas Dundon is an American businessman, specializing in financial services and entertainment. He serves as Chairman and Managing Partner of Dundon Capital Partners in Dallas, Texas and is the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League as well as the chairman of the Alliance of American Football. Dundon is also the primary landowner of Portland, Michigan.
Thomas Dundon Biography
Dundon was born in New York and raised in Texas. He attended Southern Methodist University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1993 and served as president of Phi Gamma Delta.
He soon after operated a restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas. Later, with a number of partners, he co-founded a business focused primarily on subprime automobile financing called Drive Financial Services, LP, which eventually became Santander Consumer USA, a large U.S. consumer finance company majority held by Banco Santander.
By the time he left in 2015, Dundon served as chairman and chief executive officer of the company. After leaving Santander, Dundon started his own firm Dundon Capital Partners and bought a 33-story building in downtown Dallas, to house it. Dundon owns via the firm the majority of Employer Direct, a healthcare services company as well as a stake in Carvana.
Thomas Dundon Age
Thomas Dundon was born in 1972, New York City, in New York, United States
Thomas Dundon Family
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Thomas Dundon Wife
Tom Dundon has likely made many interesting calls to his wife, Veruschka about interesting ventures he has put together. Most recently, he may well have had this exchange: “Honey, I bought the Carolina Hurricanes.” Veruschka: “Why? Aren’t they pretty bad? Won’t that be frustrating?”
Thomas Dundon Children
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Thomas Dundon Height
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Thomas Dundon Net Worth
In 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.1 billion. To date, Dundon had best been known in the wide world of sports as the majority owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
Tom Dundon, You’re up
The truth is that the Hurricanes have been frustrating their fans since 2009, the year of their last playoff appearance. With a new ownership structure in place, the burning question of whether the frustration is a longtime owner, Peter Karmanos’ fault for not being willing to spend the money necessary to bring the kind of talent to the team to help them be playoff contenders.
I can’t believe that in June 2014 I wrote that Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis had found the checkbook and was going a little wild with the contracts he was signing. Since then the fans have screamed for him to please sign a proven scoring forward.
And while Francis once commented that Karmanos really was not stingy – saying he had “whatever he needed” from ownership to sign Kris Versteeg as an example – the perception is that Karmanos as a seller of the team was not interested in bringing in the kind of talent that would require hefty contracts.
Dundon is an accomplished, savvy businessman, a billionaire who knows success. Of course, Karmanos knows success in the things that are in his wheelhouse from a business perspective, but that has not translated into success on the ice for nearly a decade.
The future of the Hurricanes will soon be in the hands of a forward-thinking owner who may well be committed to turning the Hurricanes into a playoff contender.
Thomas Dundon Sports investments
After leaving Santander, Dundon purchased Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas and in 2011, fifty-five percent of TopGolf.
In late 2017, Dundon became involved in purchasing the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League from owner Peter Karmanos Jr. who had owned the team since it was the Hartford Whalers. He became a majority owner of the team on January 11, 2018, in a transaction where he purchased 52% of the team and the operating rights to PNC Arena for $420 million.
Alliance of American Football
On February 19, 2019, the Alliance of American Football announced a $250 million investment by Dundon and was named the new chairman of the league.
The cash infusion is believed to have saved the league from a short-term financial crisis, as Dundon acknowledged that the AAF did not have enough “money in the bank” to make payroll before he purchased a stake in the league (despite AAF assertions that the payroll crisis was a clerical error).
On February 25, 2019, Dundon clarified his previous statements, stating that he had not invested $250 million in the AAF but had set up a line of credit of sorts for up to $250 million, which would only be fully expended if the league pursued an aggressive expansion strategy (earlier reports stated Dundon was specifically interested in an AAF team for Raleigh, North Carolina).
Reports at the same time noted that Dundon reserved the right to end his investment at any time. Dundon’s first publicly visible move as AAF chairman was to move the AAF’s championship to the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas, after meeting with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and negotiating the change in venue.
The game had already been scheduled for Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada, and ticket refunds had to be issued for those who already bought tickets for the game.
Dundon according to a press release sees the AAF becoming a “complementary developmental league for the NFL”. He later expressed willingness to shut the league down if the National Football League Players Association did not cooperate with his proposal, which the NFLPA was reluctant to do because of injury concerns.
Dundon stated on April 2, confirming an earlier report from Profootballtalk.com, that he was willing to pull his funding from the league before Week 9’s games are played that weekend. As of that date, his estimated investment had come to $70 million, almost all of which went to payroll, while vendors largely went unpaid. Read also Peter Karmanos Jr.
Alliance of American Football shuts down weeks after Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon committed $250 million
About six weeks after Dallas billionaire and Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon committed to pumping $250 million into the Alliance of American Football, the fledgling professional league is shutting down, a league co-founder confirmed in a statement Tuesday.
Bill Polian, who created the league with television and film producer Charlie Ebersol, pinned the blame on Dundon. His statement said he and Ebersol thought Dundon had agreed to “finish the season, pay our creditors, and make the necessary adjustments to move forward in a manner that made economic sense for all.”
“I sincerely regret that many that believed in this project will see their hopes and efforts unrewarded,” said Polian, a former National Football League executive who built a Super Bowl winner in Indianapolis. “They gave their best, for which I am deeply grateful. Unfortunately, Mr. Dundon has elected this course of action.”
Dundon reportedly had put as much as $75 million of his total commitment in the league but was funding it week-to-week, according to multiple news reports. Those reports said Dundon disagreed with the business vision of Ebersol and Polian and wanted to accelerate plans to turn the AAF into a feeder league for the NFL.
Dundon and the AAF weren’t immediately available for comment.
“On the one hand, it was kind of our wildest fantasies to come true,” Polian told The Associated Press. “It all came true and now it’s all come crashing down.”
Asked why the league was shutting down, Polian said he’s heard “only that it’s about the money. That’s all.”
The league notified most employees that they will be terminated as of Wednesday. It said the decision to suspend operations was made “after careful consideration.”
A small staff will remain to seek new investment capital and “restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two,” the league’s letter said.
The AAF has teams in Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio, Memphis, Birmingham, Orlando, and Salt Lake City. It launched Feb. 9 and had games scheduled this weekend.
The league was planning to hold its April 27 championship game in The Ford Center at the Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ indoor practice arena that’s next to the team headquarters in Frisco.
Dundon, 47, made his fortune in auto finance. He worked for an auto loan consulting firm that grew into Santander Consumer USA, an auto lender for drivers with poor credit histories. The company is publicly traded and majority-owned by Banco Santander of Spain.
Dundon has invested millions in numerous ventures, many of them sports-related. He’s a primary investor in sports entertainment company Topgolf; co-founder of Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, home of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson tournament; and majority owner of Employer Direct Healthcare.
When Dundon announced his multimillion-dollar commitment to the AAF in February, the league was already on shaky footing. At the time, Ebersol dismissed reports that the Alliance was getting a financial bailout.
With Dundon’s investment, he became the league’s chairman and its majority owner. Dundon said in February that he wouldn’t be raising additional funds and was focused on growing the business.
But in late March, Dundon warned that the league was in danger of folding. In an interview with USA Today Sports, Dundon said the AAF was struggling to come to an agreement with the NFL Players’ Association to use its young players. He envisioned players sharpening their talents in the AAF and graduating to the NFL, and he said that the feeder model was crucial to the young league’s viability.
“If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can’t be a development league,” he said in the interview. “We are looking at our options, one of which is discontinuing the league.”
In the Dallas area, the AAF has local ties. Daryl Johnston, the former Cowboys fullback, is general manager of the San Antonio Commanders. Mike Singletary, a former Baylor and Chicago Bears linebacker, is the head coach of the Memphis Express. Singletary is also a head football coach at Trinity Christian-Addison.
As reports circulated last week about the AAF’s viability, Singletary told The Dallas Morning News he wasn’t letting it influence his coaching.
“All I know is that I’ve got a game this week, and it’s a huge game, and I’m not going to deviate one second thinking about another situation in which I have no control over at all,” he said. “If it comes to pass, then so be it, but until then, I’m just going to coach my tail off and try to get a win so we can continue moving to next week.”
Early Tuesday, players and team staff began getting calls and reading news reports about the end of the league. Johnston told the San Antonio Express-News that he couldn’t comment but said he’d be back Wednesday to clean out his office.
In a tweet, former NFL player and Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel called the league’s shutdown an “unfortunate situation.” He signed a contract with the Memphis Express in March. For Manziel, the league offered a chance for a comeback after a short-lived NFL career and troubles off the field ranging from substance abuse to domestic violence allegations.
“Great concept, good football on the field and fun for fans to watch,” he said in the tweet. “Just not enough money to go around, which has been the main problem with ‘other’ leagues for a long time.”
In another tweet, Manziel gave advice to fellow AAF players: “No lawsuit or anything else will get you your bread. Save your money and keep your head up. It’s the only choice at this point unless something drastic happens.”
Sports writer Callie Caplan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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how did tom Dundon make his money
For Dallas’ newest billionaire, early failure set the stage for success
Not that long ago, just out of SMU, Tom Dundon just wanted to run a good burger joint. In a 1994 review of his Fort Worth restaurant, Izzy’s, a food critic raved about the cheddar fries.
“The fresh potato fries peeking out from beneath the cheese blanket were greasy and delicious, two words I’d never expect to say in the same breath,” she wrote.
Still, the critic gave the place a rating of only 21/2 stars out of five and it closed within a year.
Lucky for Dundon.
In the two decades that followed, he helped build a pioneering company that provides auto loans to buyers with marginal credit, a business concept that became a spectacular success.
Called “brilliant” and “unique” by some who know him, Dundon mastered the intricacies of lending better than he did making burgers and quesadillas. Perhaps more important, he also understood the vital importance of cars to people trying to improve their lives. To them, a car means independence and more opportunity for work.
Over the years, as the value of his lending business grew, Dundon’s early partners took opportunities to cash out. But he remained and increased his stake, becoming a billionaire, or close enough that no one will argue.
“Absolutely, Izzy’s failure was a blessing,” said Dundon, who turned 44 this month.
In July, he stepped aside as CEO of Dallas-based Santander Consumer USA, the lending firm facing regulatory scrutiny along with its U.S. parent. The companies are affiliated with Banco Santander of Spain.
Earlier this year, Santander Holdings USA, based in Boston, failed the Federal Reserve’s stress test for the second straight year. The Fed ordered the bank to improve its operations after identifying deficiencies in governance, risk management and capital planning.
Dundon said the issues didn’t involve him but did affect the approach of the parent company toward Santander Consumer.
“It was just apparent that we had different ideas about how to run a business,” he said. So he and the company agreed it was time for him to leave.
Dundon’s departure triggered an agreement for Santander to buy his roughly 10 percent stake for more than $900 million. He remains a director and adviser.
Now, he’s ready to start another chapter of his life.
He just bought a landmark 33-story downtown Dallas office building. He’s starting his own investment firm, DCP, for Dundon capital partners. He’s the prime money person — Dundon calls himself “the bank” — behind the new Trinity Forest Golf Club. And, he said, he owns nearly one-quarter of TopGolf, the fast-growing entertainment phenomenon.
“I need to be active,” Dundon said. “I need to have stuff going on.”
Dundon’s interests range widely. Another new company he backs is trying to create a simpler, more enticing method for individuals to make nominal payments for online content, like this story. The journalism business certainly wishes him the best on that effort.
With the new golf course, located in southeast Dallas, one of Dundon’s goals is to bring elite tournaments to the city. The AT&T Byron Nelson tournament is moving from Las Colinas to the new course. Dundon is aiming even higher.
“I think major championship golf at Trinity Forest is a reasonable thing to hope for,” he said. The course is expected to open next year and the clubhouse in 2017.
Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T Inc., calls Dundon a “brilliant executive and investor.”
“I couldn’t have been more excited when he coupled his business acumen and involvement in our community to make such a substantial commitment to the Trinity Forest project,” Stephenson said.
With TopGolf, Dundon just wants to help bring fun to a sport he loves. “Golf and entertainment become synonymous,” he said.
Some analysts already value the privately held company, which has about 20 locations in the U.S. and United Kingdom, at more than $1 billion. Dundon thinks it could eventually be worth more than Santander Consumer.
“It’s like bar and grill meets driving range done bowling alley style,” said Jonas Woods, Dundon’s friend, and golf partner, describing the TopGolf concept.
There are microchips in every ball, tracking where they land. Players earn points for accuracy and distance. Some TopGolf locations in Texas are among the top outlets in their areas for alcoholic beverage sales. Reports of hours-long waits for hitting bays are common.
Woods, a former executive for Ross Perot Jr.’s ventures, runs his own real estate investment firm. The company owns Thanksgiving Tower, the building that houses Santander Consumer’s headquarters. Dundon is an investor in the project.
“We’re probably still in the early innings of Tom’s business career,” Woods said. “He’s not even close to done.”
Charlotte Jones Anderson, executive vice president, and chief brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys, has known Dundon for seven years. They met when their oldest children were in first grade.
“He sees things differently and doesn’t get emotional about his decisions,” she said.
Low media profile
For all his financial success, Dundon has managed to keep a relatively low media profile here. His name has appeared in The Dallas Morning News about 30 times since 1987, when he played tennis for Plano Senior High School.
In fact, high school tennis accounts for a quarter of his mentions. He also has been in Alan Peppard’s society column a few times.
Only a half-dozen or so mentions have directly involved the business of Santander Consumer or its predecessors.
“There was no benefit to getting attention,” he said, explaining that since the company was in the subprime lending business and had made a lot of money, it was trying to stay under the radar.
For the second quarter of this year, Santander Consumer reported net income of about $285 million, up 16 percent from the comparable period a year earlier. Santander makes non-prime and prime loans on new and used cars. It keeps some of the loans and bundles others into securities that it sells.
Despite those profits, some are concerned about an overheating subprime auto lending market. Because of the mortgage crisis a few years ago, Dundon said, the term subprime carries a stigma even though there are key differences between auto lending and home lending.
“There’s no correlation between subprime mortgages and subprime auto except the word subprime,” he said.
One big difference, he explained, is that in auto lending, the assumption is that the value of the car — the collateral — will go to zero at some point.
Subprime auto lending made it through the Great Recession, the ultimate stress test for banks. Subprime home lending, based on assumptions that values would remain stable or even increase, did not.
“We are very disciplined in our underwriting to control risk,” Dundon said.
Since he isn’t running Santander Consumer anymore, Dundon said, his attitude toward attention has changed. “It’s no longer bad,” he said.
And, he said, people might find something useful in his story, lessons about persistence and coping with failure, lessons about taking good risks as well as believing in yourself and your partners. And, yes, lessons about luck.
Coming full circle
Over the past several weeks, Dundon has talked with The News through in-person and telephone interviews and communicated by email and text messages, telling his story.
On a recent Sunday, he sat for a two-hour interview at Dallas National Golf Club, where he is a member. The session offered a peek at how the business and social lives of Dallas’ business leaders intersect.
Dundon had just finished a round of golf and lunch with Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota’s North American operation, which is building a new headquarters in North Texas.
Later, as Masters champion Jordan Spieth walked across the room, Dundon called his name and Spieth came over to the table. Spieth’s longtime golf coach Cameron McCormick is leaving Brook Hollow Golf Club to become director of instruction at Trinity Forest.
Dundon also talked briefly with restaurant entrepreneur Joe Palladino about a possible restaurant partnership. “My deal is we do a couple, and if they work we go,” Dundon said to Palladino.
He told The News that his restaurant venture would be “just for fun.” In a way, though, it also would bring him full circle to the business he began 20 years ago. Izzy’s.
“I knew from the beginning that the math didn’t work,” Dundon said of the failed Fort Worth venture. He said the long hours were brutal. He almost never left work, sometimes sleeping on the floor at the joint, located near the TCU campus. There was no profit.
After Izzy’s, and only about a year out of school, Dundon estimated that he was roughly $80,000 in debt. Partly because of the restaurant but mainly student loans.
He started working in finance with a group of associates at the Frank Parra Autoplex in Irving, one of the area’s major dealerships. The idea was to learn to lend and then become consultants and train other dealerships in how to finance cars. His first boss was Tom Brower, one of the initial partners in what later would become Santander Consumer.
Subprime auto lending was in its infancy, Dundon said. Everything was done by hand and very time-consuming. Meeting face to face with customers, he taught himself the business.
“Just because someone has bad credit doesn’t mean they are a bad person,” he said.
Beginning at Parra, Dundon learned the importance of making sure borrowers — no matter what rate they pay — receive a fair deal; otherwise, they won’t pay back their loans.
He also learned that lesson about the importance of transportation. Some customers would pay their car loan before their rent or mortgage so they could keep going to their jobs.
“We had Frank Parra selling an extra 100 cars a month in subprime, up from one a month,” he said.
Business takes off
The consulting idea didn’t materialize, but after a slow start, the group of partners eventually began working with other dealers on subprime loans, mostly for used cars, and marketing the finance programs of banks.
In 1998, the group joined with FirstCity Financial of Waco to form FirstCity Funding.
“Instead of brokering the loans, we were actually making them,” Dundon said. “So we owned 20 percent of a finance company instead of 100 percent of nothing.”
Dundon’s stake in the enterprise then was 2.5 percent. A period of stunning growth in his business and personal fortunes was about to begin.
In 2000, HBOS plc — BOS stands for Bank of Scotland — invested, and FirstCity Funding became Drive Financial Services.
“We went from entrepreneurial to professionally manage at this time, and it was just luck,” Dundon said.
The partners resisted the change for a while, he said, but it was the best development that could have happened. Bank of Scotland, strong in systems and infrastructure, helped move the company into the next generation of technology.
“Tom thinks of the company as a technology company and not as a lender,” said Daniel Zilberman, a managing director of Warburg Pincus. “His business is faster and more efficient than any competitor, by a mile.”
In 2004, FirstCity Financial sold its remaining stake in Drive Financial to HBOS, and in 2006 Banco Santander bought 90 percent of Drive from HBOS and some of the founders for about $650 million.
Dundon, who then owned the other 10 percent, became CEO. He was the last of the original founders still involved.
“I’ve never been risk-averse,” he said. “I’ve always thought you should bet on yourself and bet on the people you trust.”
In 2011 three private equity firms, including Warburg Pincus, invested in Santander Consumer USA, and in 2014 the company went public. After the stock offering, the value of the firm exceeded $8 billion.
Zilberman, who has known Dundon since 2006 and considers him a friend, said Dundon is “unique” in how he processes data and finds “simple and logical outcomes” in situations most people find complex.
“At what he does,” Zilberman said, “there’s nobody even in the same league. He’s like Shaquille O’Neal playing with a bunch of JV kids.”
In his years as CEO, Dundon was rewarded for that capability. He received substantial pay packages, with total compensation valued at about $110 million for the years 2012 through 2014, including stock option awards.
That provided a secure life and more, including a mountain home in Colorado and half ownership of a Falcon 900 jet.
He and his wife, Veruschka, have four children with another on the way. Their home near Northwest Highway and Inwood Road is a kids’ paradise, with a baseball infield, swimming pool, tennis courts and a golf green.
“I have never met him, but I’ve met some members of his family, and they are wonderful neighbors,” said Dallas attorney Jeff Tillotson, who lives nearby.
The landmark downtown office tower Dundon just bought is 2100 Ross Ave., once known as San Jacinto Tower. He said he is redoing the top floors for his investment firm’s offices.
The building has some history. It was the fictional home of the Oil Barons Club in the old TV show Dallas.
In real life, about the time Dundon was still at Plano Senior High, those top floors were the headquarters of Tyler Corp., a Fortune 500 company run by Joe McKinney, an associate of Jim Ling, the conglomerate builder who created LTV Corp.
In the end, Dundon’s golf partner and friend Jonas Woods might best sum up Dallas’ newest billionaire.
“He’s very competitive, whether in sports or business,” Woods said. “Probably in anything, for that matter.
“He doesn’t like to lose.”
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Thomas Dundon House
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