Business Profile

Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Title and firm: Eric McDowell, senior partner in The McDowell Group.

Services: The company does research-based consulting in economics, markets and social science.

Biographical information: McDowell started the business in 1972. The company has gone though several partnership changes and now consists of Eric McDowell and Jim Calvin.

Having a good partner allowed McDowell to go on a sabbatical for two years and work as a family counselor.

"I owe Jim Calvin for maintaining the business," he said.

After getting back from his sabbatical three years ago, the two developed a business plan, a first for the company, McDowell said. The plan has helped the business to a double its size.

The company has done about 1,000 studies in fields from oil and salmon to housing.

"We get to be involved in a lot of the most important issues of the day," McDowell said. He prefers to study issues that contribute something to society, he said.

The business has given him a unique perspective on government and the public meeting process. Public meetings tend to attract the extremists on either side of an issue which can polarize a meeting, he said. But by conducting polls of the general population and other research, you find out what the public really thinks and what's really going on, McDowell said.

It's important not to have an agenda when going into a project, or the research will be meaningless, he said.

"We (couldn't) survive this long without being totally objective."

Family: Sons Chris McDowell, 33, who works as a seafood industry analyst in the business, and Mark McDowell, deceased.

Notable: McDowell calls himself a "basketball junkie," playing in about four games a week. His hard work paid off when the Alaska team, on which he was a starting guard, won a bronze medal for the 55-plus age group in the World Senior Games in St. George, Utah, in October.

Quotable: "It's so hard to explain what we do," McDowell said. "We're weird."

Employees: 15, including two in Anchorage and a part-time person in Washington, D.C.

Contact: 416 Harris St., phone 586-6126.

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