May 2002

Jim Dentinger -
Mr. Volunteer II

by Joseph RADDER

Dentinger.jpg (20757 bytes)

When President Bush asked more Americans to get involved in volunteerism, no doubt he had people like Jim Dentinger in mind. We call him Mr. Volunteer II because his Dad, Fred Dentinger, was known as Mr. Volunteer some years ago. Jim learned his lessons well from his Dad. The owner of a well-known insurance company, Fred Dentinger was the Chairman of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Charities and the NCCJ, known then as the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Today, Jim follows in the elder Dentinger’s footsteps as president of Leadership Buffalo, an organization founded in 1988 to identify community issues and work solutions to problems. He has been president of the Erie Community College Foundation, chairman of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, where he is currently on the Executive Board, and he is heavily involved in Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve. This is the organization that educates employers on their responsibility to support employees who are members of the National Guard and Military Reserve. The ESGR also assists Guard and Reserve members who believe they are being discriminated against by their employers.

Jim Dentinger’s primary occupation is Senior Vice President of Ciminelli Development Company. He had formerly served as Vice President and Director of Leasing and Marketing.

He joined Ciminelli Development in 1988 after several years as Marketing Manager for Uniland Development Company. His first full-time job was Tourism Development Manager for the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce. As a youngster he had a Courier-Express paper route and as a student he worked part-time in the traffic signal division of the Town of Amherst Highway Department.

Jim still has close ties in Amherst. His offices are in a beautiful Ciminelli Development—Centerpointe on Essjay Road in Williamsville. He lives in Clarence with his wife Karen and three children - Matthew 7, Emily 5 and Carter 20 months.

Indeed Jim grew up in Amherst, Eggertsville to be exact. He attended elementary school at Amherst School #13 and St. Benedict’s on Eggert Road and then went on to high school at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. He graduated from Canisius College in 1983 with a degree in finance. He also attended graduate school at Canisius in 1994, where he earned a degree in Marketing.

When Jim Dentinger isn’t busy negotiating business deals for Ciminelli Development, coordinating major developments like Centerpointe and Village Park, generating business development, supervising marketing functions, handling numerous other tasks at Ciminelli Development and working hard at volunteerism, his life is centered around his family. He says, “Right now I’m enjoying watching my son get into sports. He’s now playing soccer and is into swimming and in-line skating.”

His daughter, Emily, is a swimmer too, and she loves to draw. “Carter, 20 months, is too young to get involved, but I have high hopes for him,” says Jim.

“My wife Karen is great,” Dentinger tells us as he continues to enthuse about his family. “She’s very supportive. My job and volunteer work take a lot of my time and require a lot of support from my family.”

Where does Jim Dentinger see himself ten years from now? “Right here at Ciminelli Developemnt,” he says. It’s obvious to the visitor that he can’t say enough good things about the company. “Everything here revolves around the customer. It’s great to work for people whose word is their bond.”

As far as Buffalo’s future is concerned, Jim Dentinger is optimistic. “We have incredible possibilities,” he said. “Our strategic location to the Canadian border is unique. We must take full advantage of it. All stakeholders must be brought in to share in major decisions,” he believes. “The decision makers must earn the trust of the people affected.”

Luckily for Buffalo, Jim Dentinger is still a young man. In fact, he was selected by Business First last year as one of the area’s “40 Under 40”, business leaders who are under 40 years old.

“I guess my philosophy of life is to try to do the simple things right...things like returning phone calls, keeping an open mind when listening to other people’s views and striving for win-win situations.”

He thinks it’s a good thing that people are beginning to see the need for change here. On the subject of regionalism, Dentinger fully supports County Executive Giambra’s views. He agrees however that lay people and elected officials alike must be educated on the benefits of regionalism, not with empty claims, but with facts and figures from metro areas that have gone through regionalism and have been successful.

As long as Buffalo has bright young people like Jim Dentinger, the rest of us who call Buffalo home can be optimistic too.

Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.


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