Before he was a successful business man, Mark Richey, president and CEO of Mark Richey Woodworking was a world class mountain climber. In fact, he claims that it was through climbing that he learned how to overcome the adverse circumstances he faced in Haiti when he arrived three days after the January 12 earthquake that crushed much of the capital city. It was also through climbing that he met and fell in love with his wife of 27 years Teresa.
Upon arrival in Haiti, Mark found chaos like he’d never witnessed before. “The last moment of calm that I had was looking down from the plane at the island below.” Immediately upon deplaning, he joined an assembly line on the tarmac unloading the supplies and transporting them to the general hospital where Partners In Health clinicians and volunteers were working. He spent the next week and a half using skills learned both as a climber and in building his wood working business from the ground up (he started the business as a one man operation in the basement of his apartment in Malden, MA) helping with a building safety assessment, repairs, and finding equipment that allowed the physicians to treat the thousands of patients streaming in looking for care.
Mark had learned about PIH from his friend and fellow climber Jim Ansara, who, after retiring as president of Shawmut Construction began working on a volunteer basis with PIH. When Mark learned of the earthquake, he called Jim and asked how he could help. Jim asked Mark to join him in Haiti, where he was working day and night to get patients treatment for life threatening injuries. Mark called Teresa, who was visiting family in Peru and told her about his plan. While recounting the story, Teresa grows emotional, saying, “It made me so proud to be married to a man who would do that.”
Mark’s dedication to the Haitian people did not end with his trip. When he returned to the U.S., he found even more ways to contribute to earthquake relief. Using his connections as part of the American Alpine Club, Mark was able to leverage donations of more than 1,000 new and used tents and sleeping bags to send to people living amidst the devastation. Acting as the hub of operation, Mark Richey Woodworking received all donations there and reviewed them to confirm they were of high quality. The supplies were then packed into trucks and transported to Florida. Given his connections to many people in the shipping business, Mark was able to get transport to Florida donated. From there, PIH shipped the supplies to Haiti and distributed them among the earthquake victims. The drive was a company-wide effort, with people from every department contributing time and energy.
Even after the sleeping bags and tents arrived in Haiti, Mark and his team remained committed to helping build long term solutions there. As the founder of a multi-million dollar company with approximately 100 employees that is powered almost entirely from wind and bio-mass energy, he knows the value of long term investments; making Mark Richey Woodworking a totally green company was a large commitment of human and financial resources. But he did so both because it was a good business decision, and because he believes it was the right thing to do. “We make decisions based on our philosophy here” he explains. “Doing the right thing is also good business.”
Mark Richey Woodworking holds the same belief as PIH in that giving someone a dignified place in which to work affects both their own morale and that of the people around them. Therefore, they are showing their solidarity with the people of Haiti once again by donating all of the millwork to the new hospital being built in Mirebalais. This 180,000 square foot facility, will not only utilize state of the art medical equipment, it will also be home to cabinets, shelving, countertops, nursing stations and reception desks of the same world class quality that is found at other Mark Richey Woodworking project sites, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Harvard University, Kaufman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Missouri and hundreds of other high-end corporate, institutional, and commercial projects around the country. This will require a commitment of thousands of hours of work from the staff. From the design to manufacture to shipping and installation of the work, everything will be done with the same impeccable eye to quality that is given to project in the US. To Mark, Teresa, and their staff, however, it is just another example of doing the right thing—another decision based on their philosophy of producing work of the highest quality, and sharing with those who need it most.