Dave Gushee vividly remembers the first time a game broke his heart.
He was five or six years old, tagging along with his dad, brother, grandfather and uncle for an afternoon round at Rockland Country Club.
On one of the last holes, they were greeted with a difficult tee shot over a small pond. Afraid they were holding up the group behind them, Gushee’s dad asked his youngest son to head to the frontmost tees and tee off.
The boy refused, insisting on watching his uncle send one over the water. As punishment, he was forbidden from playing the final hole.
“I cried hysterically,” Gushee recalls. “Even at that age, I wanted to be golfing with the big guys and competing.”
It wouldn’t take him long to get his chance. While attending Gorham High School, Gushee won three consecutive individual state championships, earning him a scholarship to Division I Siena College in Upstate New York.
The decision to accept it was hardly a tap-in putt, however: A dyed-in-the-wool hockey lover, Gushee moonlighted as the school’s center and scoring leader, resulting in yet another All-State accolade.
When the time came to choose which sport to pursue, however, it was Gushee’s third passion that proved the deciding factor.
“I’ve always loved hunting and fishing, so I wanted to go to school somewhere that was close to Maine—where I could compete but also disappear into the woods for a weekend if I needed,” Gushee reflects. “That’s how I ended up at Siena.”
After graduating with a degree in marketing (and a shelf full of Golfer of the Month awards), Gushee returned to Maine. Like so many of his par-five drives and shots on goal, Gushee’s first professional swing was on point: Within a few weeks of applying for a content coordinator position at Trueline in late 2013, he got a call from CEO Haj Carr, who promptly offered Gushee a job.
Why I love my job is the same as why I love the company: The people.
Where was he when he got the good news? No surprise there.
“I was ice fishing with a few buddies on Pettingill Pond, catching some brown trout,” Gushee recalls. “I’d had a few Bud Lights at that point, so when I found out it was Haj, I was a little nervous. But it all worked out.”
That would be putting it lightly. Since coming on board the following January, Gushee has been an indispensable cog in the Trueline machine. He created the company’s sales-optimization arm, which contributes to about a quarter of the company’s revenue.
He’s also helped to develop the company’s growing marketing wing: reaching out to prospective clients, closing deals and—crucially—making sure those clients are thoroughly satisfied.
“Why I love my job is the same as why I love the company: The people. I get to connect with a lot of different people every day—different departments, different clients,” Gushee says. “No two days are ever the same. There aren’t many jobs where people can say that and enjoy the people as much as we do here.”
And his lifelong passions? He hunts as much as he can in November and December, almost always in the pristine mountains of Western Maine, and his driver is still considered a lethal weapon under state law (ditto his hockey stick and ping-pong paddle).
Unlike his daily duties, however, the answer to the question “What place tops your hunting bucket list?” will always be the same.
“Maine—it’ll always be Maine. It’s who I am,” Gushee says. “The woods up there are really, really big. There are always new places to explore. It’s my Mecca, and I can’t imagine ever getting bored with it.”
And if he comes back empty-handed?
“I’m competitive, but that’s one thing that’ll never break my heart,” he says. “I consider myself the luckiest man on earth. I’m always excited to get away on a hunting or fishing trip, but once I’m there, I’m already looking forward to going home to my amazing fiancée even more.”
Favorite cut of venison: Backstrap
Most goals he’s ever scored in a game: A few … each minute for the whole game
Biggest buck he’s ever bagged: 184-pound eight-pointer
No. 1 golf course destination: Saucon Valley Country Club
Favorite Portland sandwich: Whatever Aura gives me