A Conversation With…Dale Watkins, Sheffield Platers

Turning in his toque for a plating shop, this cyclist quickly learned the ropes of shop ownership.

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Sheffield Platers-owner Dale Watkins is a man with many hats—including a chef’s toque. From working as a cook to unexpectedly taking over a plating shop with his brother, Mark Watkins, Dale has grown from a moonlighting cook to a strong-willed and successful shop owner with an impressive knack for cycling.

 

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Dale Watkins, Sheffield Plating

 

PF: What were you doing before working for Sheffield Plating?

DW: There was never really a time before Sheffield Platers. I worked on and off for Sheffield as a kid from the age of 12. I polished sterling flatware, plated silver antiques, cleaned bathrooms, painted walls and did all the other typical jobs that a father assigns to their kids so that they have an appreciation and a sense of accomplishment for hard, dirty work.

Throughout the years, I worked at Sheffield Platers during the days and as a cook in a restaurant business at night to make ends meet. My siblings and I took ownership of Sheffield Platers in 1991 when our dad passed away unexpectedly. As a one-third owner, there was really not enough revenue in the business to receive salaries, so I continued to hold on to the night time job to make ends meet, even after becoming the president of Sheffield Platers.

 

PF: You’ve spoken about being an avid cyclist. Tell us about cycling, and why you got into it.

DW: I have been cycling at a competitive level since I was 15 years old. I got into cycling at a very young age. A couple of buddies and I would leave the house on our bikes early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to go exploring, which would last all day.

As a person with ADHD, I really did not have much of an aptitude for the traditional sports that other kids play. The ADHD always provided me with a tremendous amount of energy to deal with, and throwing a ball did not work out well. I have always enjoyed endurance sports that make you suffer for hours and enable you to be very competitive.

Today, cycling enables me to live a well-balanced life between family and work. As a hard-driving personality type, cycling — most of the time — helps me stay cool and calm, which enables me to be successful in other aspects of my life. Today, I race UCSF Masters 50+ or Cat 4.

 

PF: How do you motivate yourself?

DW: I suppose the fear of failure motivates me, or losing what I have worked so hard to achieve. I’m always looking to do things better and keep the ball moving forward to ensure sustainability for my family and the business. I don’t think about work as hard work, I think about it as part of making myself into who I want to be.

The “hard” part for me is choosing and accepting what it is that I have to do. Once I’ve made the choice to do something, I try not to think so much about how difficult or frustrating or impossible it might be; I just think about how good it will feel to have done it and enjoy the results. No pain, no gain, just like cycling. It is a cliché, but there’s no way to expand your abilities without going outside your comfort zone and suffering a bit. You have to be able to stop letting a little bit of unpleasantness sap your motivation; not everybody needs to like you. In fact, struggling can be a good sign that you’re going in the right direction.

 

PF: What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

DW: You’re capable of more than you think. You will grow into new roles and new identities, so don’t let setbacks stop you from going after what you seek. You’ll make it—just remain persistent, and don’t give up.

 

PF: What are your three greatest passions?

DW: Family, work, cycling and volunteer work; I know that’s four, but it’s important to me.

 

PF: Who are your personal heroes?

DW: My dad, Jack Welch, Henry Ford and Sitting Bull 

 

About Dale Watkins

Family: Wife, 2 daughters, 3 sons.

Favorite hobbies: Taking trips with the family, snowboarding, cycling and the beach

Favorite movie: Unforgiven

Favorite book: The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, Ann Rule’s true crime books

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Old classic rock, ACDC, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and others.

 

Originally published in the December 2015 issue.

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