Community Investment

Service has become Dean Abplanalp’s stock in trade

By Jon Shoulders  |  Photos by Josh Marshall

Dean Abplanalp can still recall being 5 years old and marching down a flight of stairs to the basement of First Baptist Church in Franklin on a cold Saturday around Christmas time. Alongside his father and a group of volunteers, including future Franklin Mayor Eddie Teets, Dean helped to organize baskets of food donated through Johnson County’s Good Cheer Fund and deliver them to needy individuals and families throughout the county. It was the start of a tradition he and his father would continue for many holiday seasons thereafter, and to this day, Dean, 57, still supports the Good Cheer Fund. His childhood recollection serves as a fitting illustration of a long-term commitment to the well-being of his hometown.

“I was born and raised here, and having lived here all my life with the exception of college, I’ve come to appreciate Franklin as a small town of people who want to constantly improve their surroundings,” Dean says. “Helping others has always been a part of my life, and I credit my parents for instilling that in me. I’ll never forget delivering those baskets that we would load on the back of a pickup, and the impact it had on me that what makes a community strong is the care you have for one another.”

As Dean’s junior high school years approached, a generous familial gesture piqued his interest in the stock market, a subject he would eventually choose as the basis for his career and which he remains passionate about more than 40 years later. His father, Gilmore, a former engineer who co-owned a land surveying business for 35 years, bought the youngster a few shares of stock in what was then known as Public Service of Indiana (now Duke Energy). “My father taught me what a dividend was, and at a certain point I got excited and said to myself, ‘Wait a minute — that’s actually money,’” he says, laughing. “Mostly I would let it all just reinvest and every now and then I would try something on my own, and eventually I began to learn how stocks worked. Then when I became of age, what little we had in that account became mine, and I started playing around with it. That’s how I got engrossed with the stock market.”

While accounting and math were fast becoming favorite subjects throughout his years at Franklin Community High School, Dean excelled in another pursuit that tends to reward precision and careful calculation — golf. He achieved all-state status and after graduating in the top 10 percent of his high school class, played at Broward Community College (BCC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “At the time I had the idea of wanting to go pro, but when I got down to Florida I saw how good everyone else was and realized I ultimately wanted to play for fun,” he recalls. “I saw that I had an opportunity to excel in business, and I wanted to make the best of that. I think my dad, as an engineer for more than 30 years, probably passed on his interest in math and analytics to me.”

After graduating cum laude from BCC in 1978 and subsequently finishing a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance at Ball State, where he also co-captained the university’s golf team as a senior, Dean was primed to embark on what would become a successful career in finance. He worked for a year and a half at Hilliard Lyons before joining A.G. Edwards and Sons Inc., where he would remain for the next 26 years as a financial adviser and manager of branches in downtown Indianapolis, Columbus and Greenwood.

Shortly before the stock market tumble of 2008, A.G. Edwards was sold to Wachovia Corp., and the acquisition prompted Dean to switch firms and join Raymond James & Associates, where he has served for the past six years at the company’s Greenwood branch as senior vice president of investments. “I still enjoy sitting down with people and helping them make the best financial decisions for their particular situation,” he says. “It’s challenging work to look at all the pieces on the chessboard and try to make those pieces work.”

As a member of the board of directors for the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF), Dean brought his financial expertise to bear several months after the 2008 financial crisis when he began chairing a committee to manage the foundation’s investments without the assistance of a third party firm. According to Gail Richards, president and CEO of the JCCF, the foundation has saved more than a quarter of a million dollars in fees since the committee’s inception and currently has over $20 million in donor assets for present and future Johnson County causes.

Dean also spearheaded a 2012 campaign to renovate the JCCF building, which was constructed in 1903. He secured over $45,000 in donations to assist with facility renovations and oversaw the design and new construction for the building, which was unveiled to the community in August 2012.

“Dean leads his life as a servant-leader,” Richards says, adding that he can often be spotted mowing or landscaping the foundation building’s front lawn. “Whether it be personal or business, his first and foremost thought is for the people. He selflessly gives of his time, talent and treasure to make an individual’s life or the community better. Through his coaching, he has helped guide me over the years to make JCCF stronger.” Dean also serves on the audit, investment, facilities and finance committees at Franklin College and volunteers with the Interchurch Food Pantry of Johnson County.

Still a golf fanatic, his current favorite Indiana spots to hit the links are Crooked Stick in Carmel and Otter Creek in Columbus. An enduring affinity for nature that comes with an outdoor hobby like golfing might just be in his blood. Dean says his distinctive surname is Swiss in origin and is derived from a Latin phrase most closely translated as: from (or across) the plain. “It’s a pretty unique name,” he says. “There are a few in central Indiana near Napoleon and Versailles, which is around where my father grew up.”

Dean and his wife, Dorcas, a retired health care professional and member of Leadership Johnson County’s Class of 2013, enjoy dining out at southside Indy restaurants like La Trattoria, Carrabba’s, Stone Creek Dining Co. and Famous Dave’s, and spend as much time as they can with their children, Jon and Jennifer, both Greenwood residents, and three grandchildren, Taylor, 9, A.J., 7, and Harper, 7 months.

“I can remember when there was nothing but cornfields from Franklin to Indianapolis,” Dean says. “There was no I-65, and as a young adult the treat was to take a date to the Artcraft (theater) or if you really splurged, go to the movie theater in Greenwood. As the area has changed, Franklin and the southside of Indianapolis have always been home to me. It is a wonderful place to raise a family, to live and work in a community that cares about others.”