Being in business for yourself can be exhilarating and also nerve wracking. Just ask Mark Cowell who lives in rural Red Bud.
He and his wife, Vicky (who is company president) own and operate MC Electric, Inc., with their son, Matthew, as a full-time employee.
When they opened the business, Vicky said, Mark’s patience proved invaluable as he explained things to her.
Married for 39 years, Vicky is not only president of the company but also someone who knows Mark well.
“Over the years, I’ve witnessed Mark to be compatible with our customers, employees, electrical supply companies, general contractors, land developers — pretty much anyone he comes in contact with.”
For someone in business, a person like that is a godsend. He integrates people and projects rather than alienates suppliers and customers.
Starting your own business can elevate anyone’s stress levels, but in 1997, MC Electric began, and everything worked out with jobs and employees until 2008 when everyone “hit the wall” with the economy. Mark was forced to lay off some of his workers.
“When you start, cultivate and maintain your own business,” Vicky said, “adversity is part of the process. It can be challenging to ride the waves of our economic times. Mark and I are always concerned for our employees and their families.”
Mark said he treats people the way he would like to be treated. That led him to wire a house at no charge for a family in need.
“Everybody has their niche,” he said. “We have to make sure the man fits the job.”
And in slow times, he tries to find work to keep his “crew” employed. “He feels passionately about keeping our crew united,” Vicky said.
His son, Matthew, describes his father’s work ethic this way: “In the construction industry, there might be a temptation to cut corners, to save a dime; however, MC Electric, under Mark’s stewardship, believes in providing the customer with a quality end product. This is something Mark and his associates all take very seriously: honesty, reliability and integrity are just a few of the core values the company represents.”
And Mark does not request any payment until a job is completed which is not the way all contractors conduct business. “I don’t take advantage of anybody,” he said.
In business for 18 years, Mark sees interacting with people — customers and workers — as fun. Meeting different people is “fun,” he said.
Coming from a large family — eight brothers and sisters — Mark said his mother “made sure” he was up in time to go to then-St. Clement Hospital (now Red Bud Regional) to serve Mass in the hospital chapel. It was a natural way for his faith to blossom.
Mark met his wife, Vicky, through work at her mother’s restaurant. At the time she was not a Catholic, but joined the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
As Vicky learned more about the Catholic Church, so did Mark who accompanied her on that journey.
Mark’s pastor, Msgr. Dennis Schaefer, has a ready ally in Mark.
To help raise money to buy new chairs at the recently remodeled pastoral center, Mark agreed to do an “ice bucket challenge. The renovation committee poured the ice in November 2014. The donations exceeded the amount needed for the chairs. “Half the people just wanted to see me get wet,” Mark said.