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COMMUNITY

We Are All Islanders
A Tip of the Hat to One Islander, Among Many, Who Gives Back

By Amelia Smith

Doug Best and his wife, Maureen have strived to give back to the community that supports him and his business. His is a multi-faceted effort that includes donations to local causes and organizations, volunteering, fund raising, and recognizing his employees’ volunteer efforts. Over the years, Doug says that he and his business have donated up to $30,000 annually to Island charities, services and organizations. As his company grew, his giving accelerated to its highest yet in 2017.

Doug first came to the Island in 1987 as the new owner of Dukes County Cable, a now-defunct cable TV company. At the time, he was working with his former father-in-law, a cable TV pioneer, with their company named Tele-Media. Doug turned their company’s connection with Ted Turner and MGM Studios into one of his first major fund raising projects on the Vineyard. Not only a major motion picture company, MGM also owned the props associated with their films. One of their films, 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty, featured a replica of the HMS Bounty built in 1960. Doug arranged to have the ship sail to the Vineyard, and used the visit as a fundraiser for the Windermere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

After they sold the cable business to Adelphia, Doug decided to remain on Island and return to his first love, construction. He’d always renovated and built his own houses, and with the needs of the Island economy it was a natural fit. “I’m doing what I enjoy,” he says, noting that he plans to stay busy and active indefinitely. “My construction company is one of my tools to do some of the other things I enjoy.”

Eager to share his enthusiasm for the trades, Doug is currently the Vice President of the Martha’s Vineyard Builders Association (MVBA), a group of construction industry professionals on Island. One of the goals there is to create an organization that will elevate and improve the knowledge and ability of everyone in the building business through relationships and education. Two challenges facing the industry–and most businesses on Martha’s Vineyard–are the housing shortage and the difficulty of finding employees. On the housing front, D. Best Construction has helped build some houses for Habitat for Humanity and donates supplies and materials that are leftovers or mistake orders from other projects. The MVBA also promotes the trades to young people here, many of whom are prone to leave the Island due to the cost of housing or the lack of work opportunities, but Doug maintains “working in construction is a good alternative. It’s not a business for dummies,” he says. “You can be quite wealthy in the trades on this Island.”

Among the numerous organizations D. Best Construction supports, a few themes emerge. One of these is sports and health – Doug is a runner himself, so that’s a natural fit. He supports the MV Hurricanes, a youth running group, donates to The Ice Arena, Island school sports, and other athletic causes. His company help build a restroom facility for the Sharks baseball team, free of charge, and several of his employees volunteer as soccer coaches. One organization that really stands out as a focus for Doug’s energy is the YMCA. “Health is so important for everyone,” he says, “the YMCA provides an opportunity for people to physically improve and care for themselves, it’s a facility that we didn’t have here before. It’s also a social option for many, including teenagers and the elderly who really take advantage of what it provides.” Doug has served as treasurer and chair of the finance committee and been on the board of the MV YMCA for the last eight years, drawing on his broad experience in businesses–large and small.

His organizational and charitable skills also come in the form of his annual company Christmas Party he holds at the Wharf Restaurant in Edgartown. In 2017, the party raised and donated more than $8000 destined to local charities. The raffle items he sources are sometimes worth several thousand dollars apiece and are broadly construction-related. Last year, some of the donated items included appliances from Crane Appliance, heating and gas services from Vineyard Propane, services from MV Tile, CB Tiles, Marek Tree and Land, power tools from Vineyard Home Center and a YETI cooler from Vineyard Hearth, Patio and Spa. The money was donated to the Island Wide Youth Council, Pink Squid Yacht Club, the YMCA, MV Ice Arena, the Island Food Pantry, and a local family in need. It’s important for Doug to get more people involved with supporting these good causes “I’m just a small fish in a big sea. We are extremely fortunate to have some very wealthy people on this Island who support the lion’s share of many of our organizations. Nonetheless, I think there still needs to be more support by more individuals.”