Scot Davis set out to be an agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His path changed along the way, and he assumes that's because it wasn't right for him in the first place.
"I am a firm believer that God guides your life. I never really planned on being a CEO of a medical practice in Little Rock, Ark.," says Davis, who is indeed Chief Executive Officer of Arkansas Urology, which has 14 locations across the state.
He figures he's right where he's supposed to be.
"I love what I do. You know, people spend their whole lives trying to figure out what their purpose is. I figured it out a long time ago. My purpose is to take care of people who take care of people," he says. "I wake up every day and I don't even feel like I have a job. I never wake up and not want to come to work. When you get to that point in your life, you know, and you can balance the five F's -- faith, family, friends, fun and finances -- and figure that balance, your life is easy."
Since Davis joined Arkansas Urology seven years ago, the number of clinic locations has doubled.
"We were struggling as a group. I think we were struggling from the Great Recession. There were some reimbursement issues. Our group really just wasn't fully united. And so that's when we brought Scot in," says Dr. Tim Langford, physician president of Arkansas Urology. "He's done a lot of things operationally to make our clinic very efficient."
Davis has brought in new technology and resources to keep Arkansas Urology up-to-date on information as well as to boost morale, according to Langford.
"In some studies, urology has the highest rate of burnout among physicians. It's over 50%," Langford says. "So that's been an emphasis for him. He's constantly bringing in speakers. He is always looking for ways for us to work smarter and not harder."
Davis sparked the creation of a little booklet that gets passed out to staff and visitors at Arkansas Urology.
"Arkansas Urology's initials are the symbol for gold, so these are our 'gold standards,'" he explains. "These were kind of -- for all intents and purposes -- value statements or, kind of our cultural statements in the organization."
The booklet covers the cultural expectations within Arkansas Urology, including "radical transparency," or the sharing of information, good and bad, to improve the way things are done.
Langford says the book can really be summed up in two phrases.
"One is, 'Do the right thing, always.' And the other one is, 'Walk in the patient's shoes,'" Langford says. "That's the kind of culture he's really brought to Arkansas Urology."
Davis has also been instrumental in launching the Arkansas Urology Foundation, which will use a free 10-point screening process to detect men's health issues and to refer them for further care when needed.
"It's seven labs and three questionnaires and with this, we can identify a lot of issues with men," Davis says. "Our mantra is that this is going to be fast, it's going to be free and our foundation is going to fund all those screenings through the events that we do, and the end result is that, hey, if you're healthy, great, and if you're not healthy we're going to get you where you need to go."
Chris Shenep was hired last year to be the director of the Arkansas Urology Foundation. He wasn't really looking to change jobs, he says, but after meeting with Davis he decided it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"Our mission is to fund health care for men across the state. I get it. Guys aren't very good about going to the doctor," he says. "I think the most recent statistic I read was women are nine times more likely to go to the doctor than a man, and I think so many men don't find out they have issues going on until it's too late. To be able to be a part of an organization like Arkansas Urology, to work with Scot Davis to build a foundation from the ground up, is just a career dream come true."
Shenep says that in expanding the number of clinics Davis has also expanded the number of patients that can get access to care. Arkansas Urology has gone from serving about 50,000 patients to serving 105,000, he says.
"He's such a good manager, such a good CEO, he's a mover and a shaker. He thinks big, outside the box. I think one of his main purposes is to help mold a team together and to make an employee be the best they can be. He does that every day," Shenep says. "I've never met a faster walker than Scot Davis. I think his fast pace of the way he walks just is indicative about the way he manages this organization."
Davis's enthusiasm is part of his heritage. His great-great-grandparents emigrated from Terrasini, Sicily.
"Growing up Italian, the food and the culture and the fun and the passion and all that is something that's really innate in me, and I think kind of in the way I manage our business, too, with a lot of zest and zeal, passion and purpose for what I do," he says. "Part of that's my heritage, part of it's my upbringing. I bring a lot of that fun and excitement to my family, as well."
For their 20th wedding anniversary last year, Davis and his wife, Amy, visited Terrasini with their children -- 18-year-old twins Isabella and Jackson and 13-year-old Sofia.
"I wanted to go and visit where I came from. We went to Venice and Rome and Florence, but then we wound up in Sicily," he says. "We landed in Palermo, we were able to hire a driver to take us to Terrasini and to go and visit the church where my family came from. I mean it was emotional and a very rewarding experience at the same time and getting to meet some of my relatives ... it was really, really fun."
Ravioli parties routinely brought food, fun and family together when he was growing up in Memphis, with everybody working together to make and cut enough dough to cover the top of his family's table-for-eight.
"Someone's rolling out dough, someone's laying out filling and someone is cutting them, typically ... you know, when you have ravioli parties you basically make a bunch of dough, you eat some, you put some in bags," he says. "Italians are just loud and crazy and boisterous. Everybody's drinking wine and it's just fun."
He hasn't exactly re-created that tradition with his own family, but he does enjoy cooking.
"For him, cooking is relaxing," says his wife, Amy Davis. "When he wants to cook, I say 'Yes, please do.'"
Ravioli isn't a standard dish for him but he does have pictures of his kids helping him make meatballs.
"We've created at least that part of it," he says.
Davis's father, Jerle Davis, was a police officer in Memphis. His mother, Rosemary, was a stay-at-home mom. Davis is the middle child of six -- four boys and two girls -- and describes his childhood as idyllic. The family lived in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood, across the street from a park and he and his siblings played outside from dawn to dusk each day.
Davis intended to follow in his father's law enforcement footsteps by going to law school and pursuing a career in the FBI. He completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Memphis State University, but his plan was stymied when the school stopped offering law classes at night, which he had been banking on so he could keep his full-time day job.
"If I wasn't going to be a lawyer the other track to become an FBI agent was to get a master's degree," he explains.
He completed a master's in public administration from Memphis State and then took the FBI entrance exam. He was put on a waiting list as a result, so he tried out for the Naval Investigative Service. However, a knee injury from high school sports made it impossible for him to pass the required rigorous physical exam.
"I decided at that time that this was probably God telling me this wasn't where I needed to be so I wound up going back to school to get my MBA at Christian Brothers University," he says.
During graduate school, he worked in an appointed position for Memphis Mayor Dick Hackett. When Hackett lost a bid for re-election, Davis took a job as an analyst with the city park system until he finished his MBA. From there he got a position with the University of Tennessee Medical Group in Memphis.
"You know, there's that scene at the end of Forrest Gump where the feathers are just floating around? Sometimes in your life it's like you're just floating around and things just happen," he says. "It's serendipity, which is a great word that my wife and I use a lot. There's fate and there's timing and there's serendipity."
TIME OF TURMOIL
While Davis was working toward a certificate as a medical practice manager, he went to Atlanta for a meeting. At the meeting, he happened to sit at a table with a headhunter, who called him two weeks later about an opportunity as chief financial officer at Northeast Arkansas Clinic in nearby Jonesboro.
Dr. Ray Hall, a founder of the Northeast Arkansas Clinic, now NEA Baptist Clinic, remembers when Davis assumed that position in 1999.
"We were in a real time of turmoil. At that time we had very poor financial management and we were really in distress and Scot came in and really helped us in our darkest hour," Hall says.
Davis, Hall says, "took us from those times into good times. And, of course, then we built our new facility, which is ... a $450 million beautiful hospital and clinic attached with a cancer center behind and it's all occupied fully now and we're doing very well, thanks to him."
While in Jonesboro, Davis helped start the NEA Clinic Foundation, which raised money to support several other organizations, including the Center for Good Grief.
Davis was no stranger to nonprofit work even before that.
"Everybody wants to be remembered for something, you know?" he says of his reason for volunteering. "The thing that I grew up with was just a tradition and really more of a purpose of giving back."
He spent time as a youth helping out in bingo halls, running the popcorn machine or doing whatever else was needed.
"Growing up Catholic, bingo was kind of our fundraiser," he explains.
He was chairman of the Heart Walk, raising money for the American Heart Association in Jonesboro. When two of his friends sat down in his office at Arkansas Urology and asked if he would lead the 2018 Heart Walk in Little Rock, he didn't hesitate to take that on. His mother died in 2009 and his younger brother, Keith, died in 2016, both of heart-related illness.
"I said, 'I absolutely have to do anything I can to raise money,'" says Davis, who has remained involved with the organization and will serve as the chairman of the American Heart Association of Central Arkansas Board of Directors in 2021.
He has also been involved with Ronald McDonald House, the Jaycees, Rotary and others.
"That and just being involved in various events and supporting causes, I've got to think that I've raised over a million dollars for charities in my life," Davis says. "The key for me is that I don't ever have a problem asking people to help because the worst they're going to say is no."
Chris McNulty of Louisville, Ky., met Davis when they worked together at First Tennessee Bank in Memphis in 1993.
"We were both younger and crazier. We became good friends. We started working out at lunch together to get in shape, and we were going out at night," McNulty says.
This was, of course, before either of them had family obligations.
Davis and his wife married in 1999.
"Right before we got married he told me he was going to make me laugh and take me on lots of adventures," Amy says. "And so far he has been true to his word."
Davis and McNulty remained close friends as each of their families grew, and the Davises have visited the McNulty family in Louisville annually for more than 20 years, around the time of a golf tournament at McNulty's club.
"He's a family-focused guy but he also makes time for his friends and it was just such a cool experience to have him come up every year and then I started going down there, kind of reciprocating, and we would go on golf trips with his brothers. We really became like brothers -- I consider him a brother."
McNulty says he doesn't hold the fact that "for some crazy reason he is a Patriots fan" against him.
"I'm a Steelers fan," he says. "He and I have a lot of fun with that."
McNulty's children have known Davis their entire lives, but McNulty isn't sure they know his name.
"They know him as Smooth. They'll say, 'Oh, Uncle Smoothie's coming,'" he says. "That's what I've always called him. I gave him this nickname because he's just a smooth operator and a smooth golf player, and it has transcended. I just wish he was better at golf so we could win more often when he comes."
Playing golf is one of the few things Davis does to relax, according to his wife, though he will slow down to spend time watching a movie with his family.
Langford makes note of Davis' propensity for staying in constant motion.
"My main concern with Scot is he is probably a workaholic," Langford says. "I don't know how he compartmentalizes everything that he does, because, at the same time, he's a great husband and a great family man. I think the very essence of Scot is that as talented as he is and as smart as he is, he has a great heart. I think it just comes from strong Christian values, and he's always concerned about all of us."