Hungering for more experience, particularly in the field, where he could use his rapidly developing design skills, Mark began working for grading companies, who specialize in working with large tracts of land in difficult (steep) conditions. It was in the grading business that Mark became a student of water…how it flows downhill, where it collects and how to contain it. He enjoyed the process of moving the earth to accommodate water, first on paper, then in the field. Intense involvement in his work had been a chronic affliction, so it surprised no one that Mark also began to run the heavy equipment on jobs that he’d designed.
Engineering duties were only part of his job description. He had to prepare bids for large jobs, as well as present them to customers. Explaining the numerous geological and structural details as well as the costs to his prospective customers was to become another large step up in his education. Mark Dorsey became a man in demand within design and engineering circles. He was talented with engineering details, yet he stood out among his peers because of his vision; he could shape land and structures not only to perform their intended purpose, but also to be beautiful as well. In addition to grading firms, Mark worked designing and constructing dams for a while, and he also did some bridgework. All of these were experiences that have served him well when he has to place swimming pools on steep WNC hillsides.
Mark married Lynne Snelson, who was also exposed to business at an early age. She’s the daughter of, Alma and JB Snelson, the local entrepreneurs who started Leicester Carpet Sales out of the trunk of JB’s car. Mark helped Lynne and family at the carpet store from time to time. It was here that he learned more about the personal side of sales.[quote]“Selling is helping people,” says Mark. “You do not sell someone, you help them. You find a need and you meet it. That’s my philosophy, and I’m very passionate about that.”[/quote]
Leicester Carpet continues to do very well. Mark and Lynne Dorsey sold their shares of the store to pursue other interests. During his civil engineering career, he crafted large tracts of land into roads, parks and neighborhoods but Mark wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d created a development of his own, so he and Lynne bought 100 acres with some partners. Keystones of the new development’s value proposition were the amenities. Plans called for an elaborate clubhouse as well as a swimming pool. Mark lost himself in the details of designing this public space. It was during the construction of the pool that Mark and Lynne had an epiphany of sorts: they would go into business designing and building pools and the surrounding architecture.
An established company, Medallion Pool, was up for sale, so the Dorseys purchased it as a way to get their dream moving. As soon as he bought the company, Mark saw large gaps in the way pool companies approached customers, in terms of design and installation. The majority of pool contractors provided installation services for designs done by landscape architects they’d never met, on a jobsites they’d never seen. This was not a recipe for happy customers or quality work. “A $20K pool, if designed or installed improperly can become a $100K nightmare years later. Pools are far more expensive to repair than poorly built houses…pool repairs are extremely invasive.”
The reason is simple. Pools contain prodigious quantities of water, which, are located very close to the house. Large-scale leakage can undermine the soil containing the foundation, rendering the house and surrounding structures unstable. Additionally, the repair process involves a lot of digging, which disrupts most of the landscaping, decks and patios. Building residential water features does not lend itself to the standard house construction model, where a general contractor oversees several specialty subcontractors, for two reasons. First: pools are usually considered an accessory or an afterthought to a house building company. Second: if the overseeing contractor isn’t sensitive to pool design and the visual appeal of the whole yard, steps will be skipped, and the customer ends up paying for them over time.
Medallion Pool has repaired many such mistakes, and for this reason, they manage everything: the design of the pool and surrounding structures all the way through the installation. This eliminates any gaps in workmanship, and one trade dropping the ball on another. Mark feels that they can deliver a superior quality product adding more value in the process, if he is allowed to manage the entire job.
“If, say, a customer has a smaller budget,” Mark says.“I tell them to let me design and build it…all of it, and let’s design the whole yard to that budget, not just the pool. This way, it will come out as planned, with no surprises, for the best value.”