Management style earns podiatrist Boss of the Year award

Hess one of three winners of Chamber honor for 2013

rboone@theolympian.comDecember 22, 2013 

Dr. Terry Hess of Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates has incorporated advanced technologies, such as diagnostic systems, into his Tumwater medical practice.


Dr. Terry Hess was one of three Boss of the Year award winners for 2013, an awards event organized by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Express Employment Professionals, an Olympia staffing agency.

Hess began his medical practice as a pharmacist, and did that for three years, including managing a pharmacy in Aberdeen, before realizing it was not the career for him.

But he gained insight into his chosen profession during his time as a pharmacist.

Doctors would phone in their prescriptions and Hess would take that time to ask them a few questions about what they did as doctors.

In time, he narrowed down his next choice of medical career to dermatology, anesthesiology and podiatry, finally settling on podiatry. That sent him back to studying medicine again for six years, including time as a resident and later as a fellow at Harborview Medical Center.

After that, he first worked with another doctor in Olympia, then opened Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates in 2002. The medical practice since then has expanded to other locations, four doctors and a 30-person staff.

Hess, 51, said he’s smart enough to know what he’s good at and not good at, and for those areas that are not his strength, he has hired accordingly, putting other people in charge.

“They have that sense of ownership,” he said, adding that his staff meets weekly to talk about goals and go over issues.

His approach to managing was cited in his Boss of the Year award, including input from business students at Saint Martin’s University, who interviewed nominees and shared their data with a selection committee.

“He really sees the power of his staff to make the practice successful,” said Reid Bates, the owner of Express Employment Professionals and who also served on the selection committee.

Bates said Hess disproves the theory that you have to have a rah-rah-type personality to be an effective leader. “I don’t think that’s his personality, but he’s clearly successful,” he said.

Up next for Hess and his practice is to try to partner with other doctors in the area to see if they can find economies of scale for their medical practices.

By doing that, they can get back to the business of being doctors rather than spending most of their time with paperwork and regulations, Hess said.

Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates

Owner: Dr. Terry Hess.

Location: 1610 Bishop Road S.W. No. 7 Tumwater.

Years in business: Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates opened in 2002.

Employees: 30, which includes four doctors and the medical director of Laser Artistry and Medi-Spa by Fasa, a business connected to Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates.


Experience: Hess started his medical career as a pharmacist, then returned to study podiatry at the California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco, then did his residency at Lakewood Regional Medical Center in Southern California, Kaiser in Portland, then a fellowship at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Offices: Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates also has offices in Centralia and Yelm.

Mission: After volunteering his services in El Salvador in 2003, Hess, or another doctor, has tried to visit a different country every year.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

Rolf Boone 360-754-5403

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