In a recent interview, Duane Zobrist was asked for four phrases that represent qualities necessary for corporate success. “Entrepreneurial savvy, strategic visioning, collaborative drive and leadership” were his immediate response. Duane believes that organizations excel by creating an entrepreneurial environment, guided by a vision that is true to the client’s organizational culture, strengthened by a defined collaborative process and implemented by a strong team of leaders. These same principles that Duane deems necessary for success in business, mirror necessary qualities for success in public service. “If we are to change the economic map of West Virginia, we need to create winning coalitions, with strong leaders, willing partners and strategic vision. By bringing the right team to the table, we can change the economic environment of West Virginia.”
“Collaboration is an organizational choice, a choice which, if correctly made, can accelerate growth, increase employee retention and help an organization accomplish aggressive goals.” Through Duane’s strong leadership and his insistence on the collaborative process, The Duane Zobrist Group of Companies has been able to accomplish many great corporate firsts.
In 1992, just weeks before the beginning law school, Duane decided to follow one of life’s detour signs. He moved to Utah, began master’s program and cultivated friendships with several iconic falconers who lived in the state. In 1994, after completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at Brigham Young University he founded the Falconry Academy at The Greenbrier. The Falconry Academy was formed to provide educational experiences with trained birds of prey; hawks, falcons, eagles and owls. Duane was a pioneer in this field by providing a way for participants to put on a falconry glove and hold a falcon, under supervision of a trained falconer. This program was the first of its kind in the United States. Duane also petitioned the West Virginia State Legislature to change the laws to permit falconers to practice this ancient sport in their home state of West Virginia. In 1997, the first falconry permit was issued by the Department of Natural Resources and now many individuals also experience the thrill of hunting with hawks and falcons. The Falconry Academy also operates a program at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.
As the demand for additional outdoor activities grew, Duane rose to the occasion. He founded Resort Outfitters, a company dedicated to providing outdoor activities and team building programs to clients at high end resorts. Currently, Resort Outfitters employs a large staff who provides kayak trips, mountain bike tours and rentals, rock climbing, paintball, geocaching, nature hikes and a variety of team building activities. Duane and his staff are committed to creating memories for their guests in the beautiful, serene, natural surroundings of America’s finest resorts. Duane’s resort partners include The Greenbrier, The Homestead, The Resort at Glade Springs, The Hotel Hershey, The Lodge at Hershey and The Gasparilla Inn.
In addition to his business interests, Duane has always had a deep involvement in his community. He is an Eagle Scout who has remained committed to the scouting program. Duane has served in a variety of scouting roles including Buckskin Council Board Member, Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Chair, Venturing Advisor and Area 4 Venturing Chair. He has helped write several national BSA Training programs and volunteers at the Philmont Training Center, as a faculty member.
In 2013, Duane had the unique opportunity to lead a group of 36 boys to the largest scout encampment in the organizations history. Of this experience Duane confirmed “The Summit Bechtel Reserve is one of West Virginia’s brightest gems. We should be proud of both this world class facility and the long term partnership forged with the Boy Scouts of America.”
In addition to his commitment to the Boy Scouts of America, Duane remains committed to education as well. He served on the founding board of Greenbrier Episcopal School and his children also attend Greenbrier County public schools. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New River Community College and Southern Virginia University and also served as Board President for the Lexington Montessori School.
The Mountain State Young Presidents Organization (YPO) has benefited from Duane’s leadership as well. He has served in a variety of officer roles in this CEO organization including Chapter Chair, East Central Regional Chair, and Education Officer. Duane is also a graduate of Leadership West Virginia.
For the last 4 years, Duane has coached and mentored the USFIRST FTC Robotics Team 3477. This team builds a new robot each year to meet the worldwide challenge issued by the USFIRST organization. Team 3477 has competed strongly at both the state and international level, winning one of five judged awards at the 2011 World Championships. USFIRST is an international organization that focuses on furthering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in high school students.
Duane and his family are active in their church where he has worked as a lay leader for nearly his entire adult life. This church leadership includes serving a 2 year church mission and working as the local congregation’s Bishop for the last 8 years.
In 2008 and 2012 Duane was member of the West Virginia Steering Committee for Mitt Romney.
Duane lives in Lewisburg, West Virginia with his wife of nearly 25 year Darlene Salin Zobrist and his four children Hampton (19), Trip (16), Cameron (14) and Chase (10).