You know your little city is growing up when it’s finally time to hire a growth management director. Cue the entrance of Doug Lewis. Or, rather, re-cue. Lewis first appeared on the scene before Hurricane Irma, in his capacity as manager for Grubbs Emergency Services — the first-on-the-scene folks to pick up all the storm debris. He returned about a year later to step into the scheme of a re-organized City of Marathon staff to streamline operations. Lewis oversees the building, planning and code departments.
But this job is a departure for Lewis. As a former construction supervisor, he’s “switched sides” — from the private business arena to the public government sector.
Here’s a little more about this guy …
Full name: Douglas Lewis.
Do you have a nickname: Not saying!
Before this job, what other type of work did you do? Well, I worked in my family’s office supply business before heading to Atlanta to be an assistant manager at a high-end men’s clothing store. This was back when men wore suits. Then I became a superintendent for a small contractor.
Where did you graduate high school? Brooksville. Although it’s a rather small county, there’s only one high school so I graduated with a class of 400.
Did you go on to college? I went to University of Florida on a music scholarship, thinking I was going to become an accountant. I love numbers, they come naturally to me; but don’t ask me to conjugate a verb. Eventually, though, I realized I didn’t want to sit behind a desk. (There is photographic evidence that over the years Lewis has been everything from a long-haired hippie to a hard-rocking drummer.)
What appeals to you about the building industry? I love driving through neighborhoods of things that I have built — houses, hotels, churches.
What are some of the most memorable construction projects? I did a couple houses on the Homosassa River that I am very proud of. I designed them from scratch to suit the views of a specific piece of property.
How did you jump from there to disaster management? I was running a construction company for Gary Grubbs in Tampa when Hurricane Irma hit. I got here a few days before the storm to get organized and figure out what we needed for equipment. (Turns out, Lewis went to high school with Grubbs back in Brooksville.)
Did you ever go back to Tampa again? A couple of months, I think. I came on board with the City of Marathon in late October of 2018. Working with the city staff after the storm was the greatest introduction to a new job I’ve ever had.
“For me, this is a bucket list job in a bucket list town — to be able to combine something I’ve always wanted to do, with somewhere I’ve always wanted to live.”
Biggest lesson from Hurricane Irma? I don’t know that I learned anything. But it was a huge reinforcement of everything I believed about our current building code.
Where do you see Marathon in five years? I hope that we have all our systems more streamlined and that the city is in a more financially secure position.
Pet peeve? Folks who swear up and down that they haven’t broken permitting laws when I know they have. I always try to work with people, but I hate it when people lie.
Do you ever “turn it off?” No. I want the city to be a great place to live. Right now, our challenge is cleaning up our U.S.1 corridor; it’s the face of the city.
Beer, wine or liquor? Scotch.
Craziest way you’ve ever spent your money? I owned two race cars. One was a Sports Club Car of America spec racer Ford, and the other was a 355 Ferrari challenge.
Landlubber or mariner? I’ve lived on a boat for periods of up to five years at a time. I sleep better, I’m more relaxed. If I could find a slip that came with a four-car garage it would be perfect.
Do you fish? What’s your best fish story? Couple of years ago me and some of my buddies went to Costa Rica and caught 32 sailfish in four days. But I’ll sit on the end of the dock and fish for snapper, too.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I don’t want to be Aquaman, but I would love to breathe underwater.
What TV or movie character do you most resemble? Chevy Chase — when he and I were both younger.
What was the last book you read? “Drive” by Daniel Pink.
What’s your nerdiest passion? Playing with our new kittens.
If you could have lunch with any person, dead or alive, whom would you choose and what would you eat? George H. W. Bush, sushi and broccoli.
What’s your favorite annual event in marathon? The Best of Marathon.
My significant other would say I am … just plain fun.
The title of my autobiography would be … The Life and Times of the Little Drummer Boy.