Davis & Associates, PC
Davis marks four decades of development
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
Ask any local long-timer, and they’ll tell you how drastically lower York County has changed over the past 40 years. The old drive-in became a Wal-Mart. The Kiln Creek corridor went from non-existent to almost fully developed. Nearly every lot on Route 17 now hosts a business. And several large, high-end neighborhoods have sprung up. These improvements have significantly raised the profile—and value—of York County. Donald W. Davis is proud of his role in the progress.
His York County company, Davis & Associates, P.C., celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Davis, a Newport News native, began his career as a land surveyor in the Army. He said he enjoyed the work, so when he got out of the military, he decided to enter the planning and surveying industry. Davis worked several years at a Newport News firm to get a foundation before deciding to strike out on his own. In February 1982, after pinpointing Grafton as the central point of the Virginia Peninsula, Davis opened his first location there. The business was in a small office building on Route 17.
Davis’s team started with just three people but steadily grew and expanded. Today, the company boasts 13 employees and a much larger space in the Pilgrim Village Office Complex, across from Harwood Mills Reservoir. Davis is part owner of the office complex, which he purchased in 1996.
Although Davis & Associates changed locations on 17 several times over the years, what hasn’t changed is their commitment to quality development—and to their clients. Davis said what sets his business apart is how they work directly with their clients from the beginning to end of every project. They offer complete packages to help their clients accomplish their goals.
“I like working with people and putting things together, like layouts and engineering work,” Davis said, “It’s so rewarding to see a client’s ideas and dreams come to fruition.”
As president of Davis & Associates, Davis has:
- Performed more than 70,000 individual surveys
- Created site development plans to subdivide over 26,000 residential lots
- Prepared countless stormwater management plans and water treatment facilities
- Generated plans for more than 750 commercial and industrial sites in southeast Virginia
- Developed numerous Best Management Practice (BMP) plans for stormwater discharge.
With more than 70,000 jobs under his belt, Davis said it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite—but he said he’s particularly proud of his York County subdivision projects, including Running Man, Lakes of Dare, and Nelson’s Grant. He said some of the most challenging aspects of his work involve regulations and permitting at the local, state and federal levels.
“We work throughout the region, within a 60-70 miles radius of our office. It can be challenging to work with so many different localities and to have to know the various contacts, rules and regulations in each one,” he said. “We are working with 17 different localities right now!”
What’s the secret to his success? Davis said he strives to develop not just land, but more importantly, relationships. One relationship that he holds near and dear is with Jim Noel, director of York County’s Department of Economic & Tourism Development.
Noel expressed similar sentiments: “In my 28-year tenure with York County, I have worked on countless projects with Davis & Associates. One of the first individuals I was told I needed to meet in the development community was Donald Davis. There was good reason for that, as he has touched hundreds of projects in York County. You literally can’t drive down any commercial corridor and not encounter a site that Donald has impacted. He has always been a strong supporter of our program and a tireless cheerleader for York County.”
Davis wasted no time starting to network when he first opened his business, joining the Peninsula Housing and Builder Association (PHBA) board—he is now distinguished as one of the group’s longest-serving members. Davis has also served on other local boards and commissions, such as York County’s Board of Zoning & Subdivision Appeals, Stormwater Committee and Business Association (now the York County Chamber of Commerce). Most notable, though, was being appointed by four different governors to the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board. Davis also was recognized as Person of the Year by three local organizations for his contributions to the community: York County Business Association in 2000, Home Builders Association of Virginia in 2005, and Habitat for Humanity in 2013.
Beyond surveying and planning some of the best-known subdivisions and commercial projects in the area, Davis says he was also involved in redeveloping York County’s main commercial corridor. In 2004, Davis served on the county’s Route 17 Revitalization Committee, helping to accomplish several beautification initiatives, such as undergrounding utility lines, installing median and right-of-way landscaping, demolishing dilapidated structures and offering grants to businesses looking to improve their properties.
When not working, Davis enjoys playing golf and is an avid boater and sailor. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 52 years, Mary, and their four grandchildren (his son’s family is in Charlotte and his daughter’s is in Dallas). He said he’s not quite ready to retire, but when he does, travel will be a top priority… and of course, the roads out of town look that much better because of him.