I recently found a local artist who sculpts all manner of mountain land. With pen and shovel, he blends earth, sky and water into a functional, natural habitat. I found him in a retail pool store bearing the sign: Medallion Pool. Beyond the displays of hot tubs, giant photographs of amazing backyards and samples of pool appliances, is the office of Mark Dorsey, owner of the company and one of the most talented water shape designers in the world.
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cratch a successful entrepreneur, and you’ll usually find childhood stories just below the surface. It is here that you’ll discover a repeated string of life-shaping events, which have steered him toward success. He isn’t a recent transplant from Monaco or Milan, and no blue blood runs through his veins. Mark and his wife, Lynne, grew up here in Western North Carolina and have discovered what they are very good at: designing and building luxury water shapes.
For instance, do you remember your first day as a licensed driver? I do. I became hopelessly lost on roads that I’d seen all my life from windows of the family car. Mark Dorsey did too, but his navigation was compounded by another variable. Minutes after Mark announced that he’d passed his driving test, his father gave him two things: the keys to the family car and a set of blueprints. He was to drive to the Hardees parking lot in Biltmore — which had just been paved — and lay out the parking lines for painting. His younger brother accompanied him on this adventure. “My dad had unlimited faith in his four sons. On my first striping job, he handed me the drawings and told me to ‘just get it done’. Working for him throughout high school was great training for the rest of my career. I had hundreds of experiences in solving problems, interfacing with people, and working hard.”
Children who are given responsibility usually put those events to good use for a lifetime. Eager to build upon his paving experiences, Mark enrolled in the civil engineering program at NC State. Summers existed to finance their educations, so Mark, and his three brothers continued striping parking lots and roads for their father. Since he was also a civil engineer-in-training, Mark picked up additional work as a land surveyor. After graduation, Mark worked as an engineer for local firms for almost a decade. He gained experience in design of sewer systems, hydraulics, and concrete reinforcement. Eventually he found the tasks a bit dry: working with drawings, design tables and calculators in an office environment didn’t inspire much creativity.
Civil engineering is the backbone of any quality construction activity. It’s very important work, so Mark’s designs and calculations had to be precise. His signature on a document assured that structures to hold back fluids or soil would last a lifetime. The application of engineering theory came easily to Mark. As he reviewed site drawings he could visualize many more details than just plumbing, retaining walls, structural stresses and runoff. He saw how people could use the space, what worked, what didn’t…what was attractive to the eye, and what blended with nature. His interest was widening beyond mere engineering.
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