Doug Mork Retires
Coming to Capital ‘best move he made’
When Doug Mork crossed paths with Lars Nygren in the Capital Electric Cooperative parking lot in 1988, Doug was friendly and direct. “I want the job in member services,” he told the co-op’s former general manager. Initially, Lars might have wondered why. Doug was working next door for HDR Consulting Engineers as a design engineer, and for 13 years had been living the dream of designing and traveling. But with a wife and four young children at home, Doug wanted less road time and more family time. Very much a family man, Lars could relate.
With the cooperative’s member services director retiring, Doug applied and was hired. Lars later told Doug that hiring him was a no-brainer because he was exceptionally qualified, willing, and he had strong cooperative roots.
“I was the happiest guy in the world to take a pay cut and come to work here, and it’s the best move I’ve ever made,” he says.
Doug has worked for Capital Electric for the past 29 years, designing the transmission system and substations, and educating members on electric heat products and services. He retired on Feb. 1.
“When Doug believes in something, he’s very passionate. His dad was heavily involved with cooperatives, and that’s how Doug grew up,” describes current General Manager Paul Fitterer. “He’s very passionate about the business model, and we are going to miss his knowledge and service when he retires.”
Continuing the legacy of advancing cooperatives
The son of Grace and the late Andrew “Andy” Mork, Doug grew up on a progressive farm and ranch north of Mandan along the river. Doug remembers seeing his father give $5 to a Morton County Extension Service agent for Mor-Gran-Sou Electric Cooperative to bring power to the area. In the coming years, Andy would serve as a board member for Mor-Gran-Sou, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and North Dakota Farmers Union.
Through his father’s commitment to advancing area cooperatives, Doug learned their value. He liked the philosophy of people working together for the greater good, and how his family received service from an organization that makes decisions based on what is best for the members at the end of the line and not the shareholders.
A 1973 civil engineering graduate of North Dakota State University (NDSU), Doug worked as a construction engineer for Basin Electric for a couple years before his father became a board member. Not wanting people to perceive a conflict of interest, Doug resigned and took a job with HDR Consulting Engineers, which equipped him with the experience necessary for his position at Capital Electric.
Over the years, Doug has certainly helped advance the cooperative and save money. Working closely with Engineering and Operations Manager Ron Lipp, the two men planned, developed and expanded the electrical system. Ron focused on the distribution side, and Doug concentrated on the transmission and substations.
Prior to hiring Ron and Doug, the cooperative outsourced the work using consultants.
“We were hired within six months of one another, and we started doing it ourselves,” Doug reflects. “It has resulted in a lot of savings over the years.”
Friends who live close to one another, Ron says he was the one who told Doug about the opening in the member services department all those years ago — and that Doug still owes him for the tip. Joking aside, Ron notes how versatile Doug has been as an employee.
“Doug can weld and build anything, and he’s good in member services. We’ll have a big area to fill,” he says.
Engineer Assistant Rich Dunn also worked alongside Doug on various projects ranging from staking transmission lines between substations to building new service centers in Bismarck and Wing.
“Doug’s a good friend,” Rich shares. The two have fished together in the REC Derby, rode motorcycles to Seattle, and discussed the challenges and accomplishments of their children, who are close in age. They do like to argue about one, thing — politics — but Rich says it’s all in good fun, because he knows the topic is a quick way to ignite Doug’s passion.
“I like to jab him because he’s easy to get going,” he jokes.
A couple years ago, Capital Electric sold its transmission and substation assets to Central Power Electric Cooperative. While Doug is no longer involved in the design of the electrical system, Manager Paul says Doug still provides advice to the linemen who maintain parts of the substations.
In member services, Doug was also instrumental in working with co-op members who installed geothermal heating and cooling systems, and electric heat products and services. Since 1988 when he was hired, the membership has tripled — and kept him busy advancing the cooperative’s technology, answering questions and helping with projects.
“He’s really good with customers, and he knows his stuff,” says Wes Engbrecht, director of communications and public relations. “He’s the perfect kind of guy to go to and get an education about a topic in his area. And if an issue comes up, he’ll try to find an answer. He has a, ‘let’s get it done’ kind of attitude.”
That attitude was adopted by Josh Schaffner, member services assistant, who worked closely with Doug and valued him as a resource.
“Any time I needed advice or an opinion, he was always there and willing to give me what he thought was the best idea. He has always been very supportive, and he never questioned my purpose or ethics in advising our members,” Josh says. “Doug always has a great attitude every day, and he’s been easy to work with. I will miss him, for sure.”
Just as Doug wanted more family time when he was hired, he wants even more time now. He and his wife Joanie, have four grown children and seven grandchildren they want to see more often. Doug also plans to help his brother on the family farm, finish building a hotrod, take Joanie for short trips in their Camaro convertible, go fishing a few times a month, and fix whatever is on Joanie’s honey-do list.
“I will never be bored for not knowing what I’m going to do that day,” he says.
Diehard Bison fans, the couple will also continue traveling to home games and cheering from the same seats they’ve held since the Fargodome was built.
Married for 42 years, Doug says Joanie is his rock and strength — and credits her for much of their combined success.
“She’s one of the most awesome people you ever want to meet. She’s the one who set the standard for our three girls, for what it takes to be a wife and a mom, and for our son who did a fantastic job choosing a wonderful woman for his wife. And Joanie is all of that,” he says. “She’s been the strength of our family and always will be. I have her back; I’ll tell you that. She is always there. And we love each other and always will. It has been, and always will be, a tremendous, beautiful journey.”
PHOTO Doug Mork (left), member services director, says he’s worked on a lot of interesting projects with a lot of great people. Here, he helped Josh Schaffner, member services assistant, install solar panels next to a stock tank.