Location: Olivette, MO
Industry: Design & Fabrication
Mark Gershenson spent 30 years in marketing and management roles for large corporations, but he wanted a business of his own. He spent six months researching businesses and networking in search of a company in the St. Louis area that he could purchase. Time and again, he found businesses that were problematic or too risky, in his assessment, until he took nearly his entire family liquid savings and bought ARCH Design.
“I was determined to lead a company that I owned,” Gershenson said. “The first years at ARCH were incredibly challenging as we evolved the business model and team. These efforts paid off as ARCH has become an industry leader in North America and has consistently grown both the top- and bottom-line performance each year.”
Since Gershenson purchased ARCH in 2017, he has transformed the business into a leading national supplier of artwork, graphics and signage to the healthcare and senior living industries.
Gershenson’s initial focus at ARCH was creating the right team and culture, the company said. He also wanted to create employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities, and that priority became an important turning point in creating the strong culture at ARCH.
Gershenson focused on continual improvements to processes and procedures, creating the efficiencies to scale the business. He expanded the product offerings to include interior signage and environmental graphics. “Today ARCH is a growing and profitable enterprise investing in its people and community,” the company said.
“One of the great benefits of owning and leading a smaller organization is the ability to be nimble and move fast,” Gershenson said. “However, I have now learned that one of the biggest risks of leading a small organization is the ability to move fast. So many mistakes and wasted efforts could have been avoided by slowing down to make better decisions.”
Gershenson has served as a board member for three nonprofits, including the National Fragile X Foundation; Camp Sabra, a premier Missouri Jewish sleepaway camp for boys and girls in the Lake of the Ozarks; and St. Louis Jewish Light, a nonprofit newspaper. He also is an active member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global, peer-to-peer network of business founders and builders.
“Throughout Mark’s long and successful career, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to helping recent college graduates professionals in transition to identify new career opportunities,” Gershenson’s team said. “This passion stemmed from a commitment he made to the gentleman that helped him land his first marketing role at Ralston Purina. Mark has assisted hundreds of individuals in landing jobs over the past 35 years and continues these efforts today.”
While not common for people growing up in the Midwest, Mark is an accomplished sailor. Having learned to sail at summer camp, Mark returned to teach sailing at the camp for 5 years. He then went on to skipper racing yachts in the Chicago to Mackinaw Island Race, and for more than a decade has been bareboat sailing around the Caribbean with close friends.