Scrawled on a whiteboard in Mark Melissen’s office are the words “fail often, fail quick, and fail cheap.” But for the 33-year-old managing partner at Wildstone Group of Companies and father of three, failure doesn’t seem to come much at all.
Since joining Wildstone in 2007, Melissen has steered the construction contractor from an annual revenue of $1 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2014.
Melissen quickly rose through the ranks at Wildstone to become its managing partner and has won the group several major contracts, including a $20 million RCMP detachment in Inuvik and a $12 million retirement home in Cactus Ridge.
“We’ve got some really ambitious stretch goals here,” Melissen said. “I can see us being one of the biggest and most well-respected players in some of the markets that we operate in.”
Melissen was born prematurely in Vancouver but grew up in Smithers. His start in construction came from working with his uncle for the Lafarge cement company in northern Alberta during high school.
“I was essentially just keeping my ears and eyes open for opportunities. Opportunity arises in funny places, funny times. That kind of opened my eyes to the construction sector, and I just ran with it,” Melissen said.
At 18 he moved to Vancouver to attend college, where his entrepreneurship developed.
“During that time I started a company which was essentially a marketing agency and a distributor for an action sports line from Australia. So I did that and helped put myself through college,” Melissen said.
From there he transitioned to working at Lafarge full-time and was promoted to a sales position in Edmonton.
“That definitely opened my eyes to the resource and different infrastructure markets,” Melissen said. “It definitely taught me a lot of lessons on attracting and retaining customers. Those are things you definitely learn when times are booming.”
Balancing his time between helming a quickly growing business and raising a young family, Melissen has a lot on his plate, but “living in Penticton certainly helps,” he said.
“I can leave the office, drive to my house, take my kids to school and be back, all in a 20-minute round trip. Family’s really grounded me, it’s been the major spark in my life. Personally I’m trying to learn as much from my kids as they’ll learn from me.”