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Mark Doak — 2010’s Man of the Year

January 22, 2011
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer

A great deal of what can and should be said about Mark Doak, 2010's Man of the Year, has already been said, and said very well. He is more than deserving of every accolade he's received the most recent of which was his being named to West Virginia's top 10 Who's Who in West Virginia Business by The State Journal. His accomplishment as chief executive officer of Davis Health System more than qualifies him for inclusion in that group of prestigious business people and his selection for man of the year.

Most who know him have already read his citation in the The State Journal and the piece in this publication making known his selection to that prestigious group of business men and women in the Mountain State. Just to make sure that if there's anyone reading this column that may not have heard, or read, of his accomplishments in the aforementioned publications, I will briefly reiterate what was said.

First, Doak's commitment to and efforts for making our world a better place to live is not restricted to the local area, he is active with state and national health care groups. He was recently named chairman of the West Virginia Hospital Association which is involved in extensive work on many task forces including the Medical Task Force. He has been involved with the rate-setting process for the Health Care Authority since its initiation and serves as chairman of the Small or Rural Hospitals Governing Council of the American Hospital Association where he has been named chairman-elect.

A certified member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association since 1979, he has earned the Follmer Bronze, Reeves Silver, Muncie Gold and the Founders Merit Medal of Honor awards. He is a past member of the HFMA Principles and Practices Board, offering insight and expertise for sound recommendations regarding financial practices. He is a member of the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute.

After graduating from West Virginia University in 1974 with a major in accounting, he worked a couple of years with an accounting firm in Roanoke, Virginia, then moved back to West Virginia where he worked for seven years with Toothman Rice PLLC. Within a decade after graduating from college he had formed his own CPA firm with two partners called Doak, Cuppett & Poling in Clarksburg.

Many of Doak's clients, while in the accounting field, were health-related enabling him to gain a wealth of information in the health care industry. After a while, he became restless with hospital accounting. He said, "As a consultant, you can give people advice and walk away from it, give the next person advice and walk away from that. I wanted to get my hands dirty. When you're in operations, you have to live with the advice you give and see if it works."

Putting his advice to the test he made his leap of faith in 1998 becoming DHS's first chief operating officer. Then in 2001 he became chief executive officer. Doak is extremely proud of the achievements that have been realized in the DHS over the past few years but he does not take personal credit for them. He considers himself a team player not unlike that of being a member of a football team. His tenacity to be a member of a winning team is demonstrated by the words of William J. "Bill" Johnson, president of Citizens Bank of West Virginia when he described Doak's high school football career at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Elkins. Here, paraphrased, is what Johnson said. "Mark was a three-sport athlete in high school, his favorite and most memorable being football. Mark was a starting offensive tackle. He played that position weighing in at a dripping 155 pounds. Mark did not see this as a disadvantage but rather the opportunity for him, first, to develop a positive 'can-do' attitude. Secondly, it allowed him to develop considerable humility. Third, and most importantly, it allowed him to become an expert recipient of football 'slobber knocking.' Unfortunately, most opponents' defensive linemen weighed in at around 200 pounds to 250 pounds. For those who have not played the game, slobber knocking occurs at the snap of the ball at which time the defensive lineman across from Mark would lunge forward in one swift motion, give him a head slap on his helmet's ear hole, which, by the way, sounds like a shotgun blast, knocking his head one way and slobbers the other - hence the humility."

Rarely does one have the opportunity to get to know the individual about which he writes up close and personal, but I have had the good fortune to travel with Doak to places where he has been attending business meetings. After those meetings were concluded, he always took time to sit and talk over dinner about those things in the community that are of special interest to him and the things he hopes to help - notice I said help to accomplish in it. No one could be more dedicated to serving his community than he.

I have had the good fortunate, too, to join Doak in conversations regarding his aspirations for the continued success of our community, but mostly I sat and listened. I have heard him say many times that there are so many things that need to be done to keep our community on a progressive economic path toward the horizons of the future and that he is glad to be granted the opportunity to help in those efforts. He speaks fondly of his being a member of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce.

"We have people within the chamber willing to try things so if somebody throws an idea out it's not shot down - they work together to test the idea," Doak said. "If it's a good one, they put it to work."

Doak serves as chairman of the Finance Committee with the Rotary Club of Elkins - a charitable organization that participates with other Rotary organizations to fund local and international causes. He is also an enthusiastic supporter of 4-H of which he describes himself in part as a "4-H'er by background." He currently serves on the West Virginia University Extension Service's 4-H Development Council.

For fun and escaping the pressures of running the flagship hospital of the region, Doak enjoys carpentry. He puts his hobby to use not only for the sheer pleasure of it but has used his carpentry skills to remodel homes, two small commercial buildings in Thomas and is working on one here in Elkins.

Doak sums up his feelings about doing business in Elkins and West Virginia by saying, "A lot of things happen . . . with a handshake. People can trust and respect other people and not always have to have a formal agreement out here, and I think that means a lot for the environment where we live and makes for a better lifestyle."

I can attest to Mark's sincerity I have seen it in action.

On a less optimistic note, according WorkForce West Virginia, West Virginia's unemployment rate climbed eight-tenths of a percentage point to 9.5 percent in December. The number of unemployed state residents rose 5,900 to 73,500. Total unemployment was up 6,400 over the year.



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