Written by The Business Journal Staff
What We Do: Self-Help Enterprises, incorporated in 1965, is an organization dedicated to improving the living conditions of farm laborers and other lower-income families of the San Joaquin Valley, primarily through providing housing-related programs and community service activities.
Education: In 1965, I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in agriculture.
Age: I am 65 years young.
Family: Daughter Sarah and her family live in the Pasadena area. She does administrative work for Kaiser Permanente. Son Nathan is a civil engineer and lives with his family in Sacramento. Son James and his wife live in San Diego, working in research and development for HP. And son John, an attorney, lives in San Francisco.
I have three grandchildren who are a great joy.
What is your role at Self-Help Enterprises, Doug?
As the program director of multifamily housing, I head up the development of new rental projects, rehabilitation of existing projects, management of our existing portfolio consisting of 1,260 units at 25 project locations, and delivery of resident service programs. I also serve on the organization’s administrative team.
What makes your job and this program special, Doug?
Working at Self-Help Enterprises allows me to work with a 75-member team of very talented, dedicated individual having the same mission. The team has helped over 6,000 families build their own homes under the mutual self-help method of construction, rehabilitated 6,000 homes, provided 28,000 families improved water and wastewater systems, assisted 1,500 families buy their home and counseled thousands of families on how to become successful homeowners. What could be better than that having the opportunity to work with such an accomplished, talented, mission-driven team?
Your base is Visalia. Do you travel a lot to be at the job sites, Doug?
Our service area consists of eight Counties of the San Joaquin Valley from Stanislaus County in the north to Kern County in the south. Consistent development and management activities throughout the service area results in many trips up and down Highway 99.
What did you do prior to coming to your job at Self-Help Enterprises, Doug?
The San Joaquin Valley has been my home the past 26 years and I have worked for Self-Help Enterprises for 22 years. Prior to that, I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Service for 23 years in a wide range of lending activities in rural and agricultural communities throughout California.
What is your key business strategy, Doug?
Work in close partnership with the best staff, board members, consultants, contractors, suppliers, lenders, investing partners, public agencies and local governments in order to provide the best possible housing opportunities for hard working, lower-income families. And have fun with amazingly good people while doing it.
Was there any one person that had a strong influence on you and the actions you took, Doug?
The person, who without doubt influenced my life the greatest, is Judy, my best friend and wife for 36 years. Judy passed away three and a half years ago. She was an accomplished person in her own right, an amazing mother to our four children and supportive rock for me and for so many others. She is greatly missed.
What was your first job?
My first job started when I was very young. I grew up on a crop and livestock farm in Fort Dodge, Iowa. There was never a shortage of work. My dad was a great man and taught my four brothers and me the value of hard work, mixed with a lot of family fun. I could not have asked for a better first job, or boss. After graduating from college I served in the Army for three years during the Vietnam era before starting to work for the USDA Rural Development.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Doug?
Spare time? Outside of work at Self-Help Enterprises, I am a Deacon in the Catholic Church of Visalia. Any spare time I have is filled with the many opportunities and activities that being a Deacon provides. I have been very fortunate that my work at Self-Help and my role of a Deacon allows me to use my time and talent to both provide personal fulfillment as well as helping other people along their way. Beyond that I enjoy working in my yard and traveling to visit my children and their families living throughout the state. A year would not be complete without at least a week hiking the red rocks of Sedona, Ariz.
Do you have any favorite charities that help those in need, Doug?
The Bethlehem Center, operated by the Catholic Church of Visalia, does an outstanding job of serving less fortunate members of our community through providing meals, a thrift store and related services.