By Whitney Burdette - email
Doug Reynolds said perhaps his biggest achievement is helping restructure a fledgling pipeline business.
Reynolds, of Huntington, is helping his father, businessman and former Who's Who winner Marshall Reynolds, restructure Energy Services of America, which constructs pipelines vital to the natural gas, oil and electric industries. The younger Reynolds admits the company has fallen on hard times, but that hasn't deterred his positive outlook.
"It's had some years with very large losses," Reynolds said of ESOA. "So the fact that I was able to help (his father), at least try, and he had enough confidence in me … I would say that's what my biggest achievement is. Hopefully an even bigger achievement would be to take a worry off his plate and make it successful. I don't know if we'll get there or not, but we're going to give it run."
Reynolds acts as the company's chief executive officer. But he has to balance that time between two other important commitments: family and the West Virginia Legislature.
Reynolds was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006. After six years, he now serves as vice-chairman of the House Finance Committee. Reynolds earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Duke University and said the interest in politics has always been there.
"I come from the school of believing it's like an inborn disease — you either have it or you don't," Reynolds said. "Whenever you meet people who are interested in running for office — some people I think get interested in it, and maybe toyed with the idea to do it. Some people when they're young and in college … they're interested in the process, always interested in how it works and why things go the direction they go. Sometimes it's a little impervious sometimes to understand the personalities, the process. I guess I just always had an interest from the time I was very young."
Reynolds has put his background in law and business to good use in the Legislature. In addition to serving as vice chairman of the Finance Committee for the 2013 session, he also served as vice chairman of the Committee on Banking and Insurance for the 2012 session. He's also a member of the committees on Interstate Cooperation, Banking and Insurance and Constitutional Revision. But chairmanships don't come too easily in the Legislature, a lesson Reynolds said took a while to learn.
"The hardest thing I've dealt with coming into the Legislature versus the legal business or business in general in the outside private world is that it moves so slow," he said. "You're expected to wait your turn for things. I would say I was pretty poor at that, especially my first year. I couldn't figure out what was going on."
For example, Reynolds said he thought the passage of legislation would happen quicker. But just because a bill passes the House doesn't mean it will do well in the Senate, and it may take several tries for a piece of legislation to complete the process.
"It's very rare that that happens," Reynolds said of bills passing quickly. "They'll ask me to introduce; it gets kicked around committee; it's in study resolution; you get it passed this year; the Senate kicks it back. Around the third year it'll pass.
"That's the biggest challenge is just that process, that glacial pace."
When Reynolds isn't building pipelines or passing legislation, he likes to be at home with his wife and three boys. Another child is on the way, and Reynolds said he always tries to spend as much time as possible with his growing family.
"I'm very lucky in the sense that I live in Huntington. I drive (to Charleston) every day (during the legislative session)," Reynolds said. "It definitely is really challenging. For 60 days, I'm doing this and trying to do email, text, everything else, phone calls, meetings, things like that. But I can't imagine how challenging that would be. I have three kids and a fourth on the way. So for me, I try to get out of here as close to 6 p.m. as I can.
"I try to get home in time to at least get an hour or two at home with my boys every night," he added. "I couldn't imagine living in Wheeling or some place where I was gone all week every week. It would be a lot tougher."
Reynolds hopes to use that team spirit mentality and turn ESOA into a successful company. Though he's only worked for the company for a year, he's enjoyed the challenge so far.
"It was going through a lot of challenges last year and I got tapped to run the pipeline company," he said. "When you're going through a lot of business challenges, usually you're going through a lot of legal challenges, too, to get things set up, negotiated, to get the company set up. My father asked me to do that for him, and I've been doing it since last year."
A lot of what ESOA does is construct wells and build pipelines. While Marcellus Shale development does play a part in Reynolds' growing company, ESOA doesn't depend wholly upon the shale gas play.
"I would say maybe (Marcellus Shale) is a small amount of our work," he said. "A lot of times, wells get drilled and the infrastructure is put into place after that. So a lot of the infrastructure is being put in now for those wells. In a lot of cases, it's upgrading a 6-inch pipe to a 12-inch pipe. We're building new transmission lines. We do that, but I wouldn't say (Marcellus Shale) is our primary market area."
So with everything on Reynolds' plate, how does he balance work, family and the Legislature? He said he's lucky to have a knowledgeable team supporting him.
"The truth of the matter is I'm really lucky," Reynolds said. "We have some great guys who know more about the pipeline business than I know. Like any team, whenever you have somebody who's injured or can't play all the time, everybody else has to step up and contribute more."