Wendi and Mark Holland (Photo by Steve Eaton)
The “main event,” as Mark Holland describes it, is Wendi Holland, his wife.
While many people often maintain their family is their number one priority, to see Mark and Wendi together and to see them interact, makes it easy to believe that in their case it is more than just talk. In fact, to see them holding hands, laughing and playing off each other’s stories, one might believe they are newlyweds.
“We spend a lot of time on our relationship,” Mark said. “It’s the main event for us. We do date nights every week. We spend the last 15 minutes of each night together, alone, after the dust is settled and the kids have gone to bed. We make time for a quarterly retreat.”
Wendi said they met playing Wallyball in Salt Lake, and it was “pretty much love at first sight.”
“We had one high-five and there was electricity,” she said. “He called me the next day, and we’ve been together since.”
“I think Wendi has really helped me bring a balance into my life that was lacking when I met her,” Mark said.
He said the many things Wendi does with the family help him to be able to focus on work when he is there. He said he also welcomes her advice on work matters.
Mark said the family goes on a “great adventure” each year, and Mark goes on outings with his son and daddy-daughter dates with his three girls.
When you factor in Mark and Wendi’s commitment to daily exercise, church and community service, one might wonder where they find the time. Mark is the chair of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business National Advisory Board and in 2008 Mark and Wendi received the Spirit of Old Main New Generation Award. Mark also received the Huntsman School’s Professional Achievement award in 2005.
That’s all on top of Mark’s busy vocational life. Mark founded and is now the CEO of Ascend HR Solutions, an HR outsourcing company. Ascend was the 37th fastest growing staffing company in the US in 2008. Mark is also chairman and CEO of Intermountain Staffing, one of the Mountain West’s largest staffing companies. Since joining Intermountain in 1992, the company has grown from four offices in one state to 16 offices in four states. Combined sales of both companies were more than $200 million in 2008. Mark also founded Ascend Insurance in 2008, and he said it is now experiencing rapid growth.
Mark said his work is important, but it is not the most important thing to him.
“When it comes to life, we need to be thinking about the things that are a priority for us, whether it’s our church or our family or our health, all of those things,” he said. “I hope business for our employees makes the top five or six on their list, but I don’t want it to be number one.”
Mark said it takes some planning to keep priorities straight. Sometimes he might tack a family outing onto the end or beginning of a business trip, for example. He’s even figured out a way to make exercise a bigger part of his day without losing work time.
“He walks during the day, several times,” Wendi said. “He takes whoever he has a meeting with, and they go for a walk while they discuss things.”
Mark said those who report to him all have tennis shoes at work. He said there are advantages to getting out of the office.
“I think it’s important to be able to take time to get away from your challenges,” Mark said. “I think when you change your place, you change your perspective. Just by getting out, you are in a different environment, and you think a little bit differently.”