DHG Alumni – Jay Motsinger: Blue Sky Possibilities at DHG
What have you been doing since retiring in 2010?
Margie and I are both pretty spontaneous, and we love to travel. Since my retirement, we have been to France, England, Costa Rica, Italy, Napa Valley in California and most of the national parks out West. In fact, we recently returned from the south of France where we stayed in the very same chalet we honeymooned in some 20 years ago.
Perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve been doing is serving as CFO for my wife’s speech therapy clinic, called Cheshire Speech and Voice Center. Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, it provides speech and language therapy for children in eight counties and now has about 70 employees, so it’s a pretty sizable operation.
Actually, it was Cheshire Speech and Voice that brought us together in the first place. Back in 1995, her business was growing fast and needed a bank loan. I knew Margie’s father and he arranged a lunch meeting for the three of us to discuss funding strategies. As soon as I met Margie, we just connected. I don’t think her dad got a word in edgewise during that first meeting, but Margie and I have now been together for 22 years.
When did you start with DHG?
I started my professional career with Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co (now KPMG) in 1969 in Greensboro. I was one of 16 new hires that year. In 1972, I made the move to Dixon, Hauser & Odom in High Point, North Carolina, which was then the home office. At the time, I think I was the third person in the firm to have Big 8 experience. It was a really great time to be with the firm, as all the founding partners – Phil Dixon, Bob Hauser and Charlie Odom were still there, along with future firm leaders such as Don Carr and Eddie Sams.
My early audit training at KPMG gave me a great appreciation for the audit side of the practice, while the DHG culture gave me the freedom to help grow the business development and interpersonal skills side of the practice. It was a great fit.
What are some of the highlights of your nearly 40-year career at DHG?
Without a doubt, watching and being a part of DHG’s evolution from a small, local organization to a top-20 firm. I vividly recall Phil Dixon’s effort to create a culture of not being afraid to grow the practice. Then Eddie Sams absolutely pushing the firm to hire the best and the brightest by establishing great rapport with leading North Carolina universities.
In the mid-70s the firm hired Martin Schlaeppi, one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met. Martin was always a deal maker, and maybe a bit unconventional, but he helped propel the firm to new heights. He also had the foresight to hire John Roberts, who became our insurance practice leader and put us on the map in that niche.
Looking back, I think the appointment of Eddie Sams as Managing Partner was another pivotal moment. At the time, around 1983, he was one of the youngest managing partners of a firm of our size in the U.S. He was an unbelievable leader and contributed greatly to the firm’s continued growth – both in size and as an organization.
Finally, a true highlight for me was our merger in 2004 with Crisp Hughes Evans. Bringing an invaluable leader such as Ken Hughes into the firm really credentialed our healthcare practice and opened the door to major markets.
Having the opportunity to work with and learn from these and many other exceptional leaders was just extraordinary.
How about your own career at DHG – what stands out?
I was fortunate to have served on the firm’s Executive Committee – an elected position – for most of my DHG career. When I think back on the discussion, decisions, and camaraderie that swirled around those tables during the many years of those meetings, I am truly in awe and honored to have been a part of that.
In 1985, I transferred to the Greensboro office to serve as Managing Partner. Then, in the late 90s, we carved out the Construction and Real Estate practice as a separate niche, which I was in charge of until my retirement. It was tremendously gratifying to work with Lance Windley and Mike Trammell in developing the firm’s C&R practice.
Perhaps the most personally rewarding experience of my entire career was mentoring Lance from the day he joined the firm in Greensboro in 1991 until he moved to our Raleigh office and then to the Jacksonville office to serve as Managing Partner.
What does it mean to you to be a DHG alum?
My nickname at DHG was “Blue Sky” because of my positive, and some might say unrealistic, attitude. I always like to see the possibilities. It’s just who I am. DHG encouraged me be that person. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the firm and what it has done for me. It’s firmly entrenched in my DNA, and it’s a big part of why I think I’m the luckiest guy in the world.
More about Jay:
- Born in Winston-Salem, NC
- Graduated from East Carolina University
- Four adult children: Heather, Shanda, Allen and David
- Two grandchildren: Charlie (age 13) and Georgia (age 10)
- Member of the Rotary Club of the Triad