Taste of Success Sweeter than Ever for GFC Difference Maker Mark Flesch

Mark Flesch

We can often remember in vivid detail those days when everything seems to go wrong. A multitude of unfortunate circumstances swarms about, seemingly conspiring to align against us. We’re left in a hapless heap at day’s end, hopeful that a good night’s sleep and a push of the reset button will help to erase all of the ugliness we’ve endured.

But every now and then, fate smiles down to produce a marvelous day worthy of the record books. It need not measure up to a significant life event such as a wedding, the birth of a child, or graduation; sometimes, all that’s needed is a few breaks and a little serendipity to stretch a smile.

Mark Flesch enjoyed one such day early in his career as a first-year sales rep for Gordon Flesch Company (GFC), the Madison, Wisconsin, office dealership empire created by his grandfather. It was a late October Friday morning when Flesch received an email from a client who decided to accept the proposal he had submitted. As if a win wasn’t exciting enough, the agreement enabled Flesch to qualify for the company’s president’s club trip, an impressive feat considering he had only joined the firm in May.

A day doesn’t get any better than that! But actually, it did. And the weekend was only beginning.

“What made it even more special was the unusual visit I got from my dad (CEO Tom Flesch) just minutes after receiving the news,” said Flesch, a 2022 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “He came by my cubicle and told me that he and his friends needed a fourth for golf that afternoon and wanted to know if I would like to join. What a fun way to celebrate!”

While not every day can measure up to those standards, Flesch’s taste for success permeates every aspect of his job as chief operating officer for the 66-year-old firm. He genuinely cares about his employees, customers and partners, and has established deep, meaningful relationships with the circle of people in his universe, which speaks to the guiding principles the company was founded on.

Enabling team members to reap their own success and simultaneously grow the company is a source of tremendous satisfaction for Flesch. “I’m driven by the motivation to continue to grow this business,” he said. “Through acquisitions, our IT business (ElevITy), finding new customers and taking care of our current customers is how we excel this business through the third generation [of ownership].”

Path Forward

The holder of a marketing degree from Miami (Ohio) University, Flesch’s career actually began outside the industry, as he worked for Chicago logistics firm C.H. Robinson for three and a half years prior to joining GFC’s Columbus, Ohio, office in 2008. There, he benefitted from the vast experience of his father, who proved to be a bottomless font of industry knowledge. Naturally, he couldn’t forget the man who set the stage for his success: Gordon Flesch.

“Without my grandfather, none of this would be possible,” he added.

Flesch also took some cues from then-account representative (and future sales manager) John Klus, who advised him to establish good habits and to stick with the things that work for him. “That helped me frame my mind to be disciplined in a sales position with a big territory and lots of freedom.”

Plugging Away

He’s intensely proud of the way GFC performed as a team in transitioning out of the pandemic, and the fact that the company finished its fiscal year on a high note. While continued growth sits near the top of the priority list, Flesch is equally concerned with maintaining the company’s strong culture and facilitating an atmosphere where employees love coming into the office.

Flesch admits there’s always room for personal growth. “Like anyone, I need to continue to learn and grow every day,” he said. “I will be open to feedback and ideas from everyone around me. I hope to get better every year.”

Away from the office, Flesch and his wife, Nicole, have been married for 14 years. They have three children: Ellie (10), Lucy (8) and Henry (5). When not spending time attending their activities, they enjoy vacationing in Watercolor, Florida, which he dubs their “happy place.” While golf may be an unrequited love (“I’m pretty bad at it”) he gets satisfaction from serving on the Dublin Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and also sits on the development board for the Ohio Health Dublin Methodist Hospital.

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.