2012 Hall of Fame Recipient
Simon Dragan escaped Romania during its dictatorship in 1969 and found himself in a refugee camp seeking a new country to call home. While Mr. Dragan could have left sooner for other countries, he waited for his opportunity to enter the United States. "In America," Mr. Dragan explained, "I had the opportunity to succeed or fail on the merits of my own efforts. Despite a language problem, different customs and just $10.00 in my pocket, the American dream encouraged me to succeed. Doors for opportunity are open in America."
Whitley Manufacturing has been located in South Whitley since the close of WWII with a goal to provide returning veterans with homes. Over the subsequent decades it changed to providing commercial office space and was acquired by Williams Mobile in 1971 until it was purchased by Mr. Dragan in 1993.
When he arrived in this country in 1972, he was hired as a draftsman by a Baltimore, Maryland area firm engaged in the modular industry. He was later hired by Williams Mobile, now Williams Scotsman, where his career grew and led to his opportunity to purchase their flagship factory. Mr. Dragan singled out Barry Gossett, former CEO of Williams Scotsman, as a key mentor and his reason for embracing the industry he has been honored by.
Whitley Manufacturing now includes three factories with the acquisition of Evergreen Mobile in 1999 near Seattle, Washington and a second Indiana factory in Rochester. Whitley has won over 50 "Awards of Distinctions" from the MBI for their excellence in modular construction marketplace.
Mr. Dragan enjoys his Ft. Wayne, Indiana community and has recently invested in the Harrison Project, a mixed-use venture which completed Fort Wayne's Harrison Square Development, the centerpiece of the downtown revitalization plans.
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