Mark is inspired by entrepreneurship. His first business was selling baseball cards. He quickly realized he was making more in this side business than he was at the accounting firm where he was employed. After being a staff accountant, Mark had a short adventure as a candy store owner, but knew that also wasn’t for him. He was just treading water, working more hours a week than he wanted to, looking for something with promise, something that he could see a future in for himself.
As a homeowner, Mark had an inherent interest in real estate and had already bought rental properties. When the chance to purchase an established construction company came up, he decided to go for it.
Miller-Diehl had grown for several generations in Louisville under one family. The last of the family was retiring, and Mark took over the reigns.
Mark Spencer, owner of Miller Diehl Construction, on site.
Miller-Diehl’s business is diversified with many types of client so that the crew has work throughout the year. Insurance restoration is half of their business and the other half is petitions remodels and kitchens. Winter is typically a slow period for most contractors, but it is a time when the most flood and fire damages occurs in the home. He sees this as a unique differentiator for a construction company in the Louisville area. Mark told us that Miller-Diehl is very busy this year, mostly due to a season of hurricane winds and ice storms.
Mark spoke at length about building a business with employees. People work harder if they like and respect you, and Mark works hard to build a team relationship. Coming into an established business can be difficult, but Mark prioritized the expertise of his employees and made his role to do the bidding and the administration, which made for a smooth transition.
Miller-Diehl is having its best year; business is up over 50% from a year ago, though Mark was cautious, explaining that he felt much of the company's recent success was related to the atypical storms that came through Louisville the previous winter.
Mark's story is a familiar one. The threat of becoming the company man, who at 55, is told that the company doesn’t need him. The veteran company man who is replaced by someone younger, more technically savvy and less expensive. Mark knew this was not where he wanted to see himself, so he took control of his fate. As an entrepreneur the ceiling is as high as you dream it, but that’s tempered, Mark reminded us, with a floor that is a lot lower.
As for Mark? He likes the risk.
An Intimate Portrait of the American Entrepreneur Project is sponsored in part by the automated marketing gurus at Infusionsoft
and is championed by the spirited zeal of The Toilet Paper Entreprenuer and TPEs across the universe.