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Exclusive Interview with author "Steve Marks"

“The Muffin Man Chronicles,” tells the authentic story of Steve Marks an Akron, Ohio entrepreneur who along with his business partner came up with a tasty treat and turned it into a thriving multimillion-dollar company. The book takes the reader through the process from the company’s inception to its sale, or more aptly repeated sales. Both business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs will learn the smart strategies they need to launch and run their own businesses The inspiring and informative book also offers tips and approaches to adapting to change, overcome obstacles, and achieve not only sustainable growth-but success.

Marks, who still resides in Akron, Ohio, is recommending his new book to any aspiring entrepreneurs all over that are looking for a blueprint to success! Continue reading for an exclusive interview.


Tell us a bit about your background.

I became a CPA out of college and began working for what was then a Big 8 Accounting firm. I got started as an entrepreneur when I was 26 years old and blindly bought an abandoned building in a sheriff’s real estate auction (auction for a property with delinquent real estate taxes). The city of Akron was offering business owners grants and incentives to develop the property, but you had to install a retail outlet. With my business partner Harvey Nelson, we opened a muffin shop in the summer of 1987. Over the next 3+ decades, we built and cultivated a thriving business, Main Street Gourmet selling it to private equity companies three different times. I am a two-time winner of the United States Small Business Administration’s Small Businessperson of the Year Award and our company was twice listed on the INC 500 list for the fastest growing US companies.

What was the impetus behind writing "The Muffin Man Chronicles"?

Throughout my career, I would journal, as they occurred, important events and situations in our company history. Most of these writings involved lessons learned from various trials and tribulations or how I felt about certain situations and circumstances. When I retired in October of 2019, I had this compendium of material that I felt needed to be in the proper format. I spent about a year putting it together, filling in some of the gaps with more history and the end result being “The Muffin Man Chronicles”.

How would you describe the book?

I tried to put together an honest and emotional account of my experiences that chronicle what’s it’s like to be an entrepreneur. I detail the ups and downs of starting and running a successful food company in Akron, Ohio. I tell the story of Main Street Gourmet's early days, its growth into a nationally distributed brand, and the high-stakes world of acquisitions. I offer crucial tips and insights for aspiring entrepreneurs who may be looking to start their own company as well as entrenched businesspeople looking to elevate their game.

What would you like readers to take away from reading your book?

If you are an entrepreneur, you will probably take home your problems and opportunities. It will be hard to turn off your brain to all that you encounter. You will undoubtedly take the issues of your work with you on vacation. You are likely to take things personally when you are rejected. You will go to sleep thinking about work and wake up with those same thoughts and maybe even some potential solutions. At least that was my experience. When things were going well, I was in a good mood, when they weren’t I had to fight to stay even-keeled. This is not something I am proud of. I worked very hard to create a balance in my life even though I rarely worked 9-5. I got better as I got older, but I never quite mastered living with the roller coaster life of an entrepreneur. In my book, I tried to convey what this is like and the emotional mindset that is indicative of an entrepreneur.

Why was it important for you to write this book?

I think my story can provide insight, advice, and confidence for aspiring and veteran entrepreneurs. It felt very satisfying to get this story out. My dream was always to have my own business. Ever since I was a kid. My only jobs growing up were jobs that didn’t have a boss. Whether it was a lemonade stand, mowing lawns, or washing cars, I stayed in that lane. My next-door neighbor was a business professor at the University of Akron, and he counseled me to go into accounting. He said that every business needs accounting and if you have that skill, you can go into any business. After becoming a CPA, I was just waiting for my opportunity to become an entrepreneur. Many people have counseled me over the years, and I think it’s just natural for an entrepreneur to want to help others from the lessons they have learned.

Did the writing of the book offer any surprises?

When I finished the book, I was kind of amazed at how many highs and lows I went through in my career as well as how many times we almost went out of business. I also didn’t realize all of the pivots we undertook at several different key moments in our history which were important elements in our growth. I think it’s important to understand that problems and problem-solving are constants in business.

What other projects are you working on?

I am on the board of several small businesses that I have invested in….mostly food-related. I invented a product that teaches people how to tie a bow tie (The Practice Bow Tie). My wife and I co-founded the Akron Marathon, and we are actively involved in its operations. And lately, I am enjoying promoting this book and learning a great deal about how the book and publishing business operates.

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