SHIRLEY -- After nearly four decades as a chemist, DRC Trading founder Dennis R. Conlon has found a new calling.
Planning to retire from his day job at a Bedford company that services hospital lab testing equipment, Conlon said he's done this kind of work, nine to five, for 36 years.
Now, he's launching a second career as a professional stocks and securities trader.
During a recent interview at his home, Conlon talked about building a business and spreading the word, hoping that clients will come.
Basically, he's selling himself, core values, ethical legacy, financial savvy, with certified access to the stock exchange. It's work he enjoys and he's good at it, Conlon said.
In that sense, it's much like his current job but very different otherwise.
For one thing, he'll be working for himself, finally following in his father's footsteps.
Born and brought up in Massachusetts, Conlon's father Robert ran "an honest insurance brokerage" in Worcester County for over 30 years. The R in DRC, his own middle initial, "was intended to honor my father's legacy," he said.
None of the Conlon children wanted to take over the business when his father retired, Conlon said, each choosing to make his own mark in the world.
One became a travel agent. Another went into computer science as an electronics engineer. One is a minister.
Dennis Conlon became a chemist.
Then, he had an epiphany. He had gone to an employment agency, seeking a job to get "out of the factory and into an office," he said. The agent read his resume and offered advice. "Two years of college ... you're a quitter," the man told him. "Go back to school."
Eventually, he did. But first, he worked in a hardware store and became a church youth advisor. Resuming his education, he was undecided about a major, Conlon said. Chemistry or business?
"I found chemistry fascinating," he said. Conceptually, anyway. Accounting, on the other hand, "put me to sleep," and bookkeeping class wasn't challenging, either. So what sealed the deal? Chemistry 101. "I didn't hate it," he said.
Another flash of insight came when he was in his late 30's and living in Rhode Island. His wife Brenda was taking nursing courses. Once, she couldn't make a math lecture and asked him to sit in, take notes. Surprisingly, he liked it. He went back to school again, earning an MBA from Providence College in 1994.
Like his brothers, Dennis Conlon found a career path and followed it, taking with him his dad's values and independent spirit. And his blessing.
Now, he's taking some of the same steps his father did as he launches DRC Trading.
"My dad worked for a big life insurance company" before branching out on his own, he said. Like his father, Conlon had to get licensed, in this case as an investment adviser.
Licensed in the state of Massachusetts and backed by five years of "active online margin trading experience," Conlon knows his stuff but has yet to make a trade for a client.
"That's my challenge now," he said. Finding clients.
But not among co-workers or relatives. "I make it a practice" to draw that line, he said.
DRC Trading isn't a sideline but the real deal, by the book. "It's got to be professional and based on my goals."
Not a financial planner, investment advisor, fund manager or stockbroker, Conlon offers a specific service for a commission or fee.
His credentials, resume, investment strategies, analysis methods, definitions and legal particulars of DRC's client-trader set-up are spelled out in a brochure, available online at www.drctrading.com
After perusing the brochure, serious clients-to-be who contact Conlon will be treated to a meal with the founder-owner, the company's one and only representative and advisor.
"I'll take you out to breakfast or lunch" to talk it through, he said.
Amiable as well as ambitious, talking comes naturally to Conlon, who claims the Irish "gift of gab" and projects an easy-going persona with a dash of energizer bunny.
During an hour's chat in his living room, with his wife Brenda adding insights, Conlon came up with an anecdote for every topic, telling details that offered glimpses into his past and the mores and morals he lives and does business by.
The gist of his message is honesty. The trust he wants his clients to have in him and his business. To paraphrase a vintage television ad, he expects to earn that.
Unlike fund managers such as the infamous Bernie Madoff, who took advantage of his client's trust and made off with their money, Conlon said DCR clients will never be expected to hand over their hard-earned money to him, nor take his advice on how to invest it, only to authorize him to make trades on their behalf when the time is right.
Conlon said the Madoff story fascinated and appalled him. "The guy went to jail, but the money was gone," he mused. "He made off with billions."
The tale is even more tragic because Madoff's clients knew him socially, Conlon said. "They were all wealthy...they played golf, dined together," he said. They gave him their money and got back statements. "Paper that meant nothing."
Conlon's business brochure states that DRC will not take "custody" of clients' money and lays out its communication methods. For example, clients will get weekly e-mails updating "net gain or loss" and other pertinent data, including "how portfolio performance compares to the S&P 500." Monthly statements and quarterly reports come straight from the broker, in most instances Interactive Brokers LLC.
It's all in the brochure, and then some. Notable nuances include latitude for clients to set personal parameters for trades. For example, a client who is a vegetarian may want to avoid firms with investment links to meat packing companies.
The Conlons have lived in their comfortable Shirley home for 10 years. Brenda is a nurse at Seven Hills Rehabilitation Center in Groton. Their three children are grown up and on their own. The oldest, Jennifer, is a teacher in Rhode Island. Scott is in the Air Force. The youngest, Maureen, is an engineer.
Life is good, but for the 60-year-old Conlon, it's time to move on, career-wise. He's eager to get going and welcomes potential clients to call or email him.
Conlon may be contacted via email at www.advisorinfo.sec.gov or by phone at his home from 6-10 p.m. weekday evenings, or Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The number to call is 978-425-9050.