EMU’s 2023 Alum of the Year, Andy Dula is a husband, father, and corporate executive whose success spans business, service and volunteer experiences. (Courtesy photo)

The trust-building servant leader

Alum of the Year Andy Dula ‘91 serves others while climbing corporate ladder 

Trust. It’s a difficult principle to achieve, and once it’s fractured, it’s even harder to repair. 

By prioritizing this core value, Andrew Dula ‘91 has risen to the top of his organization and led by example. As president of EGStoltzfus, a family-owned, full-service, 55-year construction business, his servant leadership style is admired by those within his sphere of influence. 

As selected by Eastern Mennonite University’s Alumni Association and its Awards and Nominations Committee, Dula is the 2023 Alum of the Year. The Alum of the Year Award is given annually to an alum who has been recognized for significant achievement in her/his/their profession, community or church. Not only is it given to honor the alum, it is also awarded to inspire EMU students and fellow alumni to live lives of service and vocational excellence. 

“I am the child of a shepherd boy from Ethiopia and a trailblazing Mennonite missionary woman from Strasburg, Pennsylvania,” Dula said. “The amazing things the two of them have done with their lives have immeasurably impacted me in ways that I know—but perhaps even more in ways that I do not.” 

Dula’s success story is marked by longevity and continuity. He started out in drafting, then was elevated to project manager and controller. Later, he rose to chief financial officer and chief operating officer before becoming president in January 2021. In all, it’s been a 31-year run for Dula at EGStoltzfus.

As a company, the biggest satisfaction for EGStoltzfus “comes from the relationships we build with our team members, customers, suppliers and trade partners.” Consistency, teamwork and change management are hallmarks of his long and distinguished tenure with the same organization. His values set aligns with his company’s corporate culture. 

“I love what we do,” he said. “Housing, and the real estate development that is inherently a part of it, provide for a very fundamental and basic human need. Also, every new real estate venture provides the opportunity to let our entrepreneurial visions and ideas literally come to tangible life!”

Dula leads a EGStoltzfus team meeting in front of the company’s model home at Parkside Neighborhood in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (Courtesy photo)

“I partner with and work for an ownership group of individuals who practice what they preach. Lives of balance, integrity, honesty, service and giving back are front and center. Those same people have provided more opportunities to me than I could have ever dreamed of.” 

His EMU award, the top honor bestowed to an alum by the university, follows the company’s 2022 recognition as recipient of the Ethics in Business Award, which was based on criteria such as integrity, fairness, justice and transparency. 

Dula and fellow EGStoltzfus team members attend the 2022 Ethics in Business Awards ceremony at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania. (Courtesy photo)

As a corporate executive, Dula’s success spans business, service and volunteer experiences. Not one to rest on the laurels of his professional career, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, resident has modeled the way for others by continuing to give back. 

Dula has served on numerous boards: Goodville Mutual Casualty Company Board of Directors (current); Praxis Mutual Funds’ Board of Trustees (member – current); Integrity Bank Lancaster Advisory Board; Lancaster Mennonite School Executive Board (member); Lancaster Chamber Board of Trustees (member); and others. Dula’s leadership and efforts on multiple boards represent his purpose in the world and alignment with EMU’s mission: preparing students to serve and lead in a global context. 

From 2003 to 2015, Dula was a member of EMU’s Board of Trustees. That long period of service was punctuated with a five-year tenure as chair of the board, a role he relished as servant to his beloved alma mater. 

“You can only fathom and appreciate the challenges and opportunities that are present at an institution like EMU from the very inner sanctum of leadership,” Dula said. “And EMU’s mission is compelling.” 

His Christian faith remains paramount; he has served on many church and church-related boards while attending Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, where his wife, Michelle Witmer Dula ‘91, is pastor. 

“Christianity is so diverse that I hesitate to generically use the term,” Dula said. “If we define Christianity as the communal effort to follow the life and teachings of Jesus… if it is first about love, mercy and forgiveness, then it has been important and challenging to me. I keep a picture frame of the ‘Ten Commandments for the Marketplace’ on the wall in my office. These 10 commandments, as articulated by Dr. Carnegie Samuel Calian, have aligned very well with my business philosophy and leadership practice over these past 31 years.” 

Adjectives used by those who know Dula well—from all walks of life—include thoughtful, supportive and accountable. They reiterate that Dula personifies the EMU values statement: 

“EMU’s mission and vision are grounded in the enduring biblical values of Christian discipleship, community, service and peace. These values are embodied throughout the university in our distinctive commitment to peacebuilding, social justice, cross-cultural engagement and sustainability. Rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, we follow Jesus’ call to bear witness to truth, serve with compassion, and walk boldly in the way of nonviolence and peace.” 

Count his longtime mentor and friend R. Clair Sauder, a former EMU board member and retired corporate executive, among those who have noticed and appreciated Dula’s selfless way of living and leading over the years. 

“Andy is a leader who follows the servant leadership model, leading his company in setting a culture that encourages everyone (employees and customers) to thrive and who strives to be a leader serving the greater good in the community,” Sauder said. 

From strategic planning and accounting to financial reporting and budgeting, Dula utilizes the education he received at EMU while majoring in business administration and management. His commitment to lifelong learning is evidenced by the MBA he earned in 2006 from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Dula believes that only education can provide a pathway to success. 

“Education in all forms is about learning,” Dula said. “Learning and acquiring all forms of knowledge is a part of what makes life fulfilling and enables you to do what you love.” 

David Gautsche, president & CEO of Goodville Mutual Casualty Company, is impressed by Dula’s long-term service in a family-owned business despite not being family. 

“His success in that situation is somewhat unusual and a testament to the trust the family has developed in him,” Gautsche said. “The second generation trusted Andy to lead the company and mentor the next generation of family leaders. This is a highly unusual level of trust.” 

Trust, as well as sacrifice, is a common thread for Andy and Michelle Dula. They are parents of two young adult children, Maya Dula ‘21 and Mesa Dula ‘24. 

From left to right: Maya Dula ‘21, Michelle Witmer Dula ‘91, Andy Dula ‘91, and Mesa Dula ‘24. (Courtesy photo)

“At EMU, they were and are being shaped by a values set and worldview that we think is important,” he said. “Significant formation happens during undergraduate college years, and while it will be their choice as to whether they fully embrace that values set and worldview, as parents it has always been a priority to do our best to offer exposure.” 

The Dulas’ partnership is symbiotic, with the spouses supporting each other’s professional pursuits. 

“Andy’s consistent support of Michelle as a spouse has allowed her to utilize her gifts as the leader in a relatively conservative Mennonite community,” Gautsche said. “I know Michelle has been equally supportive of Andy, and I see the two of them as models of a balanced and supportive relationship.” 

Dula will be recognized on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Opening Homecoming Celebration Breakfast in Yoder Arena. Following a morning worship service on Oct. 15, EMU also will host a luncheon in honor of Dula, 2023 Distinguished Service Award co-winners Paul and Lisa Zendt Shelly ‘89, and 2023 Outstanding Young Alum Award winner Basil Marin ‘10. 

“At this later stage in my career, I can do what I love,” Dula reflected. “Leadership tasks such as coaching, mentoring, advising and supporting our current and future group of emerging leaders is about as fun as it gets.”

Join the Discussion on “The trust-building servant leader

  1. Having watched the “story” of Andy Dula unfold over the years has been very interesting, as the actual EG Stoltzfus was my late wife Anne’s little brother. He was just a kid when I first met Anne and he had a pony. They lived in a long farm lane between Rt 30 and Atglen and early on was known as “Junie” amongst the family. He also passed some years ago, with sons Bent and Chad having led the company until they wisely seeing the abilities of Andy facilitated his moving to lead the EGStoltzfus team.

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