Jerry Dike

February 2014

Q&A with former TxDOT chief DMV administrator

 

Jerry Dike has carved out a unique niche for himself as a motor vehicle consultant. Those in the AAMVA community may know him better for his love of the color orange and hot peppers, as well as his unexpected arrest at a regional conference. MOVE magazine learns more.

You have your own independent consulting business. What kinds of issues do you address with clients?

I have had several DMV clients over the years. I work to assist the North American DMVs with their projects. Issues I have dealt with include driver testing, vehicle insurance verification, dealer software, and various other DMV registration and titling issues.

What do you like about your current position?

I love working with people, and this allows me to continue to work with friends and DMV associates all over the U.S. and Canada to help the DMVs. To me, helping the DMVs also helps their masses of customers, which is the large majority of the entire populace. I also work with and strongly believe in the value of AAMVA and its value to all DMVs and the jurisdictions.

How did you get started in this industry?

My dad worked for the Texas Highway Department (later named TXDOT) for 43 years. He was the maintenance foreman in Palestine, Texas. He was the reason I initially got a job at TxDOT. I started the month he retired, on third shift as a computer operator while going to the University of Texas at Austin. I stayed on as a computer programmer and later became a manager. Then I got my MBA at UT. Following that, I continued working for TxDOT as chief DMV administrator.

What one or two lessons have you learned in your career in motor vehicles?

One lesson I’ve learned is how important the DMV is to each jurisdiction and the nation. Virtually everyone is your customer. You are bringing in a tremendous amount of revenue—billions of dollars in Texas. Most of it goes to highways. A lot of it goes to education. Some of it goes to the DMV. You assist law enforcement by identifying your populace, as well as regulating the environment for all vehicles in your jurisdiction and managing reciprocity for travel to other jurisdictions. I kept saying to people over the years: At the DMV, you don’t want to be on the front pages of newspapers. You help a lot of people by being efficient and effective, and being in the back pages.

A second lesson is how useful AAMVA is to the DMVs.

How did you get involved with AAMVA?

I have been associated with AAMVA for over 20 years. I was fortunate to be elected to the AAMVA regional board and later the international board, and served many years. I learned early on the value of AAMVA to the DMV—finding great DMV colleagues, best practices and programs to do in jurisdictions, as well as identifying things for jurisdictions not to do.

jerrydikeorange

Jerry Dike, center, wears his signature color—orange—at the 2012 AAMVA Annual International Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

You are a bit of a celebrity in AAMVA. Why?

I’m known for always wearing orange. Being a huge UT Longhorns fans, I have 30-plus years of getting orange clothes. I also support the U-Haul (orange) Salty Dog breakfasts. I hope I’m also known as a strong advocate for AAMVA, helping AAMVA, the Industry Advisory Board and jurisdictions in any way I can. I attend almost every AAMVA event, and I love taking lots of pictures—I’m an avid amateur photographer. I share these photos each year with the region presidents and board chairs, as well as AAMVA. I presume the celebrity tag is because I do attend so many AAMVA events, because I’m actually a shy, low-key person.

I understand you were arrested at a conference once. Tell me about that.

My good friend, former AAMVA Chair Mike Robertson [2011–2012], had me arrested at AAMVA Region 2 [conference] in 2012 by two of his troopers for inappropriate overuse of wearing the color orange. He put me in handcuffs and had me taken off the podium—in total shock and surprise. Mike has a wonderful sense of humor. Then, a few months later at his North Carolina AAMVA International Conference, I retaliated. I delivered a proclamation in front of the entire audience, stating that AAMVA is a great professional association far above this high school Animal House buffoonery, and it was an illegal arrest far beneath our dignity and professionalism. He promptly sent two officers to the podium to arrest me again.

You have some interesting hobbies. What are they?

I’m a member of Mensa. I always loved education—especially mathematics. My mom and dad grew up in East Texas. My mom was very smart and used to take my brother and me to the library in the summers. I’d read 10 or 15 books a week during the summer. When I was 12, I read all 20 volumes of the World Book encyclopedia. I also love stained glass and painting. Art is one of the few things you might leave for your family. I have two children and four grandchildren.