Early in his career, long before he became an entrepreneur, an older colleague said something prophetic to Mark Spears.
“Mark, in work as in life, the cream rises to the top. And you are the cream.”
He still remembers that comment, and those who know Mark are not surprised at how true it has turned out to be. A natural ability to rise to any challenge is the most powerful tool in his toolbox, and it shaped his blueprints for business.
“My father was in construction and tried to warn me about how difficult that kind of life can be. He encouraged me to do something different. But I just found myself continually drawn to it. That’s how 3Square Contracting was born.”
Little did Mark know that 2007 would bring a wrecking ball to the construction industry. The floor fell out of the economy and hammered his startup. Mark lost both of his partners because there just wasn’t enough work. He found himself alone and losing hope.
“I kept wondering if I could keep going. By 2009, I was pretty sure I was done.”
That’s when Mark’s family and friends throughout the community stepped in to build him up.
“They told me to hang in there and figure it out. They convinced me that I’m a survivor and all I needed was more time.”
They were right. News of his struggle worked its way through the grapevine and triggered a call out of the blue from a friend who came through with a very big project. A few months later another big job popped up, and Mark suddenly needed to nail down a roster of employees.
“That stretch of time gave me the confidence that’s led to a multimillion-dollar business.”
3Square Contracting manages construction projects, and Mark’s payroll fluctuates depending on the need. He usually employs between seven and nine full-time employees. The company subcontracts all other help necessary to complete projects.
“What makes 3Square Contracting different? I really don’t have a secret ingredient. I just think that truly walking the walk when it comes to integrity, honesty and quality has built my success.”
In fact, that’s his advice to other businesses trying to reach the next level.
I’m finally in a position to give back
“Commit yourself to doing what you do better than anyone, down to the details. Do what it takes to take care of your customers. They’ll remember. Make promises and keep them at all costs.”
Spend a few minutes with Mark and you get the feeling that he never loses touch with the gratitude he feels for the family, friends and community that supported him in those early days. He’s always looking for ways to pay it forward.
“I remember being able to buy tickets to an exciting Royals playoff game for a close friend and his mother who was battling cancer. When I saw her in the crowd, the thought occurred to me that I’m finally in a position to give back. I can’t put into words how fulfilling it is to be able to make a difference for people who’ve made a difference for me.”
And making a difference has become a way of life. Mark has put his values to work on multiple levels in the community. He devotes time and money to helping his church, supports local charities and plays in charity golf events. He’s also settling into his new headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, and eyeing revitalization opportunities in the neighborhood.
“I’ve fallen in love with the Kansas City area, everything from the food to the arts. It’s just outstanding, and I’m delighted to put down roots here.”
And putting down roots is what growing home is all about. Mark Spears and 3Square Contracting never forget where they came from, how they got here and who made it possible. As the business grows, so will the community, and together they’ll help build a future for all of us in Greater Kansas City.
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