Investor Spotlight with Mark Custer

Posted in News on March 21, 2022

Investor Spotlight with Mark Custer

Mark Custer is a second-generation co-owner and CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) of Custer, Inc. (interior solutions and workplace design), CS Erickson (electrical and integrated technology), Century Flooring (flooring and professional cleaning), and owner with his wife Kellie of Worklab, Inc. (coworking). Mark spends most of his time helping each business hit its revenue targets with strategic planning, consulting, and business development help. Mark is often out in the community either serving on boards, helping capital campaigns, or connecting with peers within business organizations.
Mark lived in Colorado while working at a Steelcase Dealership prior to moving back home in 2004 and beginning in the family business.  He’s actively involved in Family Business Alliance, Vistage, Economic Club, Talent 2025, Forest Hills Schools, Kent County Literacy Council, Van Andel Institute & several other community organizations.
He is committed to building a culture of diversity, inclusion & equality for all the Custer-owned businesses. He loves to work with and mentor young leaders and encourages entrepreneurship within all businesses. His vision is to successfully transition the companies to the next generation—whenever they are ready to take it on!


You have years of Senior Executive leadership experience. Who are the people who have had a profound influence on you and your leadership style?

Throughout my career, I have had so many people influence me along the way at the exact right times.  It started in college with my major in Hospitality Business at Michigan State University.  They taught me how to serve people and that the customer was the most important part of each day. Early in my career, my dad had a huge influence on how I lead people by teaching me how to treat people fairly and how people hate surprises.  I have had various mentors, coaches, and peer groups throughout my career who have helped with strategies and perspectives.  There is so much value in a coach/mentor or peer group as they can help hold you accountable to change and to try new approaches to leadership. 
Talk to us about company culture. What are some values that you and your team live by?
We are really big on setting core values in our companies and living by them.  Each company comes up with their own core values and use these to maintain culture.  If we can hire and fire using these core values, it helps to build the culture by having the right people in the company.  Being a family business, it is also important to treat everyone like they are our extended family.  We like to try to stay positive, be better every day, put family first, take the extra step, and build trust as some examples of our core values.   
We know you are someone who gives back to the community in many meaningful ways. Tell us about an initiative that is near to your heart.
Our parents taught us how important it is to give back to the communities that we live and work in.  My dad always gave back 10-15% of our profits to important organizations that my parents felt close to.  My brothers and I have continued to make sure that all our companies not only give back a portion of our profits, but also be involved with local organizations to help with volunteering, getting on campaign boards, or helping with projects for these organizations by donating products and services.  We have tried to help so many different non-profits, but one that is close to my heart right now is an organization that helps with mental health awareness – Be Nice in Grand Rapids is one we are very close with.
What is a book that you’ve read or an influencer that you watch that has made you a better leader?
There are so many different books that I have read that fall into the business strategic class.  Any Jim Collins books have always helped, especially ‘Good to Great’.  I really like Tim Ferris’ books also to help you think differently about how you work – ‘4-Hour Work Week’ is one that is really good.  For work/life spiritual balance I really like ‘Conversations with God’ by Neil Walsch.
Can you share why it is a priority for you to invest in economic development? 
We support Economic Development Organizations because they each serve such an important part in helping to grow and retain talent and jobs in each of the regions they serve.  They are the “glue” of the business community and can help bring companies together to help make each region in W. MI more attractive to new companies looking to relocate and to employees looking to work and live in our area. 

About the Custer Family of Companies

CS Erikson is a partner for insights and design-build services that powerfully connect customers to the world beyond their walls. From electrical engineering and data integration to collaborative and integrated technology, CSE creatively offers solutions of tomorrow that seamlessly interact with your space and meet organization needs today.

Century is a trusted resource in creating, caring, and restoring the appearance of space. We strive to enrich the lives of our clients and community through our full-service approach – ultimately helping people do what they do better! Services include design, installation, and maintenance of flooring, tile, and countertops for commercial and residential projects.
Established in 1981, Custer Inc. serves territories across West Michigan and Northern Indiana as a premier dealership of Steelcase furniture. Custer designs and builds environments that maximize productivity and a sense of purpose, drawing on extensive research and established expertise. Full-service capabilities including workplace strategy, change management, design, furniture specification, and installation to deliver spaces that support a better way of working.