At that point, he had no idea what lied ahead for him. He certainly didn’t think it was the trade of the electrician. It took a few years but that’s exactly where his career path took him.
Best got that Accounting degree from UNR but 25 years later hasn’t done much with it. After college, Best bought a new home with his wife Debbie. At the time, a neighbor of theirs owned an electrician’s company in town.
“He offered me some part-time work so I worked for him on different occasions,” Best said. “Then I went through apprenticeship school.”
The life-long Sparks resident remembered being frustrated with a decision by his neighbor employer, which made him choose to leave that company.
“I took a job with the school district, making three dollars an hour less. I sure showed him didn’t I? That lasted two and half years. My family would have starved to death,” Best quipped, reminiscing about the job change. “That was maintenance electrical work and I like to do new stuff. They wouldn’t let us do new projects so I thought there was no way I’d last here for 30 years.”
That was about the time —May of 1998 — when Best decided to put his trade to work for himself. He decided to become a small business owner, starting up Mark Best Electric.
“I thought about it for awhile and thought now is the time. If I don’t make it, I can do something else, just figured I could stock shelves or something, get a night job if I had to. I haven’t had to do that in the past 15 years. It’s been fun.”
Going into business for himself is something the Rail City native has never regretted.
“I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my life but that’s one of the smarter things I did,” Best said. “It’s rewarding to have your own business. Every dollar I’ve made since goes back to me and my family. And it’s not strictly about the money, but that’s a nice part of it. I’ve been able to do things that there would’ve been no way I’d have been able to do working for somebody else. I’ve been pretty fortunate.”
Best was fortunate to find a business partner he could trust too. While Mark holds the Accounting degree, Debbie handles the accounting for the business.
“I’ve long since forgotten about debits and credits,” Best said. “With Debbie working in the business too, it’s been great. The kids grew up and with Debbie in the office, she was able to leave anytime. She didn’t miss a thing with the kids. That flexibility was a big bonus and to my knowledge the IRS has never come back to say it hasn’t gotten its share. She’s done a great job.”
Best might be a workaholic. He said the most rewarding thing for him owning about the business is he gets to choose when he works. He also admitted there are challenges that come with that.
“You get to pick which 12 hours a day you want to work,” he said, “whether that’s 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. There are definitely a lot of hours involved in owning your own business.
“One of the hardest parts is knowing how much work to take. I seem to always take too much work. You have to know when to say no sometimes ... But I like my job. I like to do the work and see the finished project. I spent five years at the university to get a degree in accounting and there’s no way I could sit at a desk eight or nine hours a day. I hate paperwork.”
Best likes owning his own business, seeing a finished product and he works hard, but he doesn’t plan on doing it forever.
“I tell the family that they’d better start looking for a spot to live under the bridge,” the 48-year-old Best joked. “When I first started in the business, things were great. There would have been no problem retiring at 55. But I’m going to be done at 62. I’m not going to work a day past. I may do something else, but I work hard enough now. Maybe I’ll play golf more. Not that I’m any good at it, but I’ll do something else.”