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October 16, 2017

Faces of Fauquier: CPA blows off steam drag racing

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Doug Marshall has competed in about 200 drag races since taking up the sport in 1992.
Sometimes, if your relatives are bowlers, you bowl. If they’re hunters, you hunt. My family just happens to be drag racers.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The Warrenton accountant found his career calling after ditching the obvious options.

“In the African-American community, it was teacher, preacher or undertaker,” Doug Marshall, 54, says of popular career options in his youth. “I knew I did not want to be anyone of those.”

Mr. Marshall thought becoming a lawyer or a doctor.

“I didn’t think I was smart enough for that,” he says, laughing. “So accountant was the next preference.”

As a student at Averett University in Danville, Mr. Marshall took basic business courses, including “Principles of Accounting.”

“That’s what made me realize I was probably headed in the right direction,” says the founder and owner of Marshall Consulting Group LLC of Warrenton, a six-person, full-service accounting firm. “It really seemed to click with me, and I really enjoyed it.”

Mr. Marshall earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1985. That year, he went to work for Surles and Associates, a long-established Warrenton accounting firm. In 1997, the firm merged with a national accounting group, Hill, Barth and King.

Mr. Marshall became a partner with HBK. In late 2006, he bought the company’s Virginia business and established his own firm.

“When I kept Virginia, it was more like a spinoff,” he explains. “I left and retained the Warrenton clients that I was already working with.”

To hear him tell it, Mr. Marshall had been preparing for decades to have a firm of his own.

“I was running the day-to-day of Surles at age 29,” the Warrenton native says. “And I was a partner at Hill, Barth and King at age 31. So my experience was always 10 years more than my age.

“When I left on my own, it was just something I wanted to do. I decided to do the remainder of my career my way.”

Working with staff and helping clients achieve their goals provide him the most job satisfaction, Mr. Marshall says.

Like most accounting firms, the tax season — early February until April 15 — can get “pretty hectic.”

During that period, he logs an average 60 hours a week at the office, says Mr. Marshall, who dislikes “deadlines, the pressure of deadline.”

To help “blow off steam,” he races dragsters. Mr. Marshall, who took up the sport in 1992, has competed in about 200 races.

Because of a “part failure,” Mr. Marshall in August 2016 wrecked for the first time, totaling his purple, 1963 Corvette at the finish line on a quarter-mile track in Bowling Green, Ky. Traveling at 160 mph, he collided with a wall and rolled the vehicle.

“The wishbone broke. It centers the rear-end housing. I lost control.”

He walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The safety features of the car worked well.”

He never feared for his life during the crash, says Mr. Marshall, who now races a red 1995 Pontiac Firebird.

“It appears to be in slow motion and you remember quite a bit of it. I knew I was going to wreck and you just hold on until it was over.”

National Hot Rod Association races involve purses, but Mr. Marshall doesn’t do if for the money.

“What you’re really racing for is what we call the ‘Wally’,” he says. “It’s the trophy you receive when you win a NHRA national event or a divisional event. It’s very competitive. That’s what you’re chasing, the Wally. The purse is nice, but it really comes down to saying you were the best that day in your class.”

“I’ve been to the final round twice. But I’ve not been able to get the deal done.”

• Age
54

• Home 
Orlean

• Work
Founder/owner, Marshall Consulting Group LLC, Warrenton, 2007-present; principal, Hill, Barth and King, 1997-2006; manager, Surles and Associates, 1985-2006.

• Family
Two grown daughters, and fiancée, Anne Reid, who also has a grown daughter.

• Education
Bachelor’s degree, accounting, Averett University, 1985; Fauquier High School, 1981.

• Civic involvement
Board member, Fauquier Excellence in Education, 2014-present.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
All my life.

• Why do you live here?
It’s a great place to raise a family. My family’s here. It’s the community I grew up in. And, it’s a community I love.

There are a lot of great people. It’s just a really nice, close-knit community.

• How do you describe this county? 
I’d use the word family. People from all walks of life know one another from different places — school, church. Everyone seems to have a respect for one another.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Figure out a way to get more funding back into the school system.

I attended Warrenton Middle School. It was as really old school at that time. Taylor’s a really old school. I have read about the struggle (to address middle school needs). And I think it’s important that our students have the best environment possible to help them be the best students they can be.

I think there should be a new middle school (in Warrenton) — where the site is and how they do it, I really don’t have a preference.

A lot to do with education today is technology. And a lot of technology is best used in the design of the facilities. You go into our new schools versus our old schools, it’s obvious it’s a much better environment to learn in.

• What do you do for fun? 
Believe it or not, I’m a drag racer. It’s a family sport. One of my best friends is also my uncle. My uncle had a career as an engine builder; his company built race motors. Sometimes, if your relatives are bowlers, you bowl. If they’re hunters, you hunt. My family just happens to be drag racers.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
I’ve spent a lot of time on the Warrenton Greenway. I wish it were longer.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
We have good leadership. They tend to do what’s best for the community. We’ll have some growth. As I’ve seen over my time being here, it’s normally responsible growth. I would think the leadership would continue on the path of responsible growth.

We need to expand the tax base. We need to utilize the resources that we have and do the right thing. With our airport expanding, it’s going to open up opportunities for that area to grow responsibly, with business.

• Favorite TV show?
I really don’t watch TV. When I do, I’d probably have to say the Redskins.

• Favorite movie? 
“The Shawshank Redemption.”

• Favorite book?
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” by Jim Collins.

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Wales.

• Favorite food? 
Italian, especially Chicken Marsala.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My friend, Mike Appleton. When, in 2007, I started my own firm, his thing was, “No matter what, always believe in yourself.”

• Who’s your hero and why?
My dad. He’s a man of not very many means. But, he’s always been honest; he’s always worked hard; and he’s always loved his family.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
Probably wouldn’t do anything a lot different than what I do now. Probably give some to charity — Fauquier Excellence in Education. Take a vacation. Maybe get one of those COPO Camaros, which is a factory-built race car.

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Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at cbrown@fauquiernow.com, Don Del Rosso at don@fauquiernow.com or Editor Lou Emerson at LKE@FauquierNow.com.
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Stacie Griffin · October 16, 2017 at 10:07 am
With a smile, I will add that Doug Marshall is also one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.
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