I first met Mark over twenty years at a football watch party. Back then we met at a sports bar/clubhouse in Fremont prior to it being closed giving way to progress or new townhouses. Being a huge sports fan Mark has continued to join us every year for watch parties at Ricky's.
Dennis Schmidt – Thank you for joining us. This is our first chat of the year and it summer so thank you.
Mark Maupin – Thank you
DS – Tell me a little about yourself. Where did you grow up?
MM –My father is from Natoma and my mother is from Russell. I was born in Russell. My dad was a roughneck and for those people not familiar with the term he worked on the oil wells laying pipe. It is a very dangerous profession with a lot of injuries. My father went to college for a year and dropped out. My brother and I were born, though I was born five years later. My father realized it was a dangerous profession and he went back to school and got an accounting degree from Fort Hays State. After that he moved the family to Dodge City when I was five and I lived there until I graduated from high school.
DS – Never being to Dodge City, how big was your high school.
MM – The high school was grades 10 through 12 and it was around 230 students. My understanding at the time was that it was one of the smallest 6A schools in the state. This was a disadvantage in terms of football etc. as we had one of the smaller teams. It was not a large high school, but it was large enough that you still didn’t know everyone.
DS – Did you play athletics?
MM – I played football in junior high all three years and I played baseball until I was a sophomore. I had to retire from high school baseball because basically I couldn’t hit a curve ball.
DS – In a school of 230 in Dodge City did many of your classmates go on to college?
MM – I think a fair percentage did. I can’t quote a statistic on what that was. It seems in retrospect now via FaceBook and LinkedIn that a lot of people went to community college in Dodge City and many went to the big three state universities. We also had a Catholic college called St. Mary of the Plains. There were a lot of Catholic colleges like Benedictine throughout Kansas that I was not even aware of and we had St. Mary’s in Dodge City. The interesting thing is that the college no longer exists. They later offered a truck-driving program and they ended up with all these bad loans that bankrupted the college. Unfortunately for the alumni of that school, don’t have a school anymore.
DS – How did you end up going to Kansas State?
MM – I would like to say Dennis that I did a lot of research about the academics that each school had to offer, but the reality was my best friend and I rode our motorcycles up to Wichita. We initially thought being from Dodge City a small town of about 20,000 (it’s slightly larger today, maybe 28,000) would be a good choice. . So we drove our motorcycles to Wichita as we thought that would be the place to be. Something that I noticed even when I was young was that I liked to stay in relatively nice places.The dorms at Wichita State were just not nice. They were pretty run down. Really unimpressive.
DS – What year was this?
MM – This was 1983. So we went and visited that summer and took another road trip on our motorcycles up to Manhattan. Manhattan had more of a college flavor to it. The dorms were nicer and we said let’s go here.
DS - Did you ever visit KU?
MM - No, I don’t remember as it has been a long time. KU had a reputation of being more snobbish, at the time. I don’t really remember why we did not consider it or visit KU.
DS – Did many folks who lived in Dodge City and western Kansas go to KU?
MM – I had some friends that went to KU. It definitely was on the radar. It wasn’t like people did not go there. Some of my best friends who were younger than me went to KU.
DS – As the dorms were bad in Wichita did you live in a dorm at K-State?
MM – Yes, I was in Moore Hall my first year. The interesting thing about Moore Hall was that it was co-ed but I was on an all male floor, the second floor, which was kind of disappointing (laughs). I met a girl who lived on the fourth floor so I had a girlfriend in the dorm, but my floor was all male.
DS – Were some of the floors mixed?
MM – We had social functions where you could meet people from other floors. My girlfriend was from Cimarron and her parents were clients of my father.
DS – When you started K-State did you know what your major would be?
MM – I really didn’t go in with an open mind. My father was a CPA. He had a CPA firm in Dodge City. His desire was for me to graduate in Manhattan and come back and work for him in his firm. So, I went with the idea that I would get an accounting degree and go back and work for him. After three or four years of being away from Dodge City I realized I didn’t want to go back. That dream of his never came to fruition. Also, when I was at KSU, I actually wondered if I did want to get a degree in accounting and took a semester off and went back home and worked for my dad during tax season. I didn’t come up with any better ideas so I went back and graduated in accounting.
DS – What year was that?
MM – December of ’87 so it took me four and a half years because I sat out that semester.
DS – While at K-State what are some of the more memorable moments you had on campus or Manhattan?
MM – What’s funny is they say memory is the best things in life and most traumatic things. The things I remember is first getting to K-State, being away from home, living in a tiny room with somebody else, living on an all male floor, the hi-jinx going on with eighteen year olds, that you could legally drink at eighteen so we could all drink to our heart’s content (laughs). It was a pretty crazy rowdy experience.
To be honest I wasn’t a stellar student in high school. I was one of the few people in my high school who had to go all day my senior year to have enough credits to graduate. It was not a stellar high school academic career, but my father said he would pay for me to go to school if I got straight A’s. You come from a small town in western Kansas you don’t have a good gauge of your own intellect. I ended up graduating Magnum Cum Laude, which was a big achievement for me. The only reason I bring it up is that it was very hard to focus on academics when I was in Moore Hall. I joined a fraternity, Phi Kappa Theta, which nobody there seemed very focused on grades. I only stayed in that fraternity for one year because I was really focused on my grades.
That is some of the things I remember, times in the fraternity and dorm. I don’t have a lot of sports memories, but I am a huge sports fan. I remember one football game where we were leading Nebraska 2-0 because the guy caught the ball on the goal line and kneeled down for a safety, it was just a brain freeze for the guy. So we were ahead of Nebraska 2-0 when they seemed to win national championships every year. Subsequently they rolled off 40 points by half time and they won going away. I do remember the riots we had when we beat KU in 1986.
DS – After graduation where did you find a job?
MM – I got an offer from a Big 8 accounting firm in Kansas City, Coopers and Lybrand. For an accountant the Big 8 was the Holy Grail. If you could get a job with them you reached the pinnacle at least for most people. There were some people that went to work for Koch Industries or some of the other private firms, but for most people we were kind of sold that public accounting was the route to go and the Big 8 was the one you wanted to work for. I was lucky enough to get a job in Kansas City working for Coopers.
DS – How long did you work with Coopers?
MM – I only worked for them about a year. The firm thought they were going to gain some major clients and it did not happen. One of the partners had recommended a smaller public accounting firm (McKittrick, Koppel and VanDyke) in Kansas City. It was the largest local firm and I went and worked with them.
DS – Did you work with them until you relocated to California?
MM – I worked for them another two and a half years. Public accounting is interesting. I was an auditor. At least in Kansas City a lot of my audit clients were highway construction firms etc. and so you were driving to Sedalia, Missouri and staying at a bad hotel. Being an auditor is not the most glamorous thing. Usually you go to an audit site and get the broken chair in the corner that nobody wants. After a while you get burned out on auditing.
I decided to leave and got a job as a property accountant with the firm of Copaken, White and Blitt. They basically owned most of the shopping centers, if not all of the major shopping centers in Kansas City as well as a lot of the office space being developed. That was in 1991 and I worked for them for two years. I was responsible for all of the lease accounting and property accounting for Bannister Mall.
DS – The former Bannister Mall?
MM – Yes, the Bannister Mall that no longer exists. You could actually see things taking a turn for the worse when I was there as they started to have security issues. There were a lot of thefts in the parking lot and that was starting to hurt business a little bit as there were rumors about things that happened out there that didn’t happen. Perception is reality so it started to hurt sales. I am not sure, but I think they went out of business in May 2007. So it was a pretty precipitous decline.
DS – How long did you stay with them?
MM – I worked with them for two years. I had a lot of friends that went to MBA school. I still wanted to go to an MBA school, but only if I could get into a top twenty-five program. In 1993 the economy wasn’t great, but if you have a job you really don’t notice that as a twenty-seven or twenty-eight year old. My backup plan was to go to KU law school. When I was twenty-seven I decided to go to KU’s MBA school and attended an extension course in Overland Park for their MBA school. I took one class there on a Monday night on organizational behavior. I remember sitting in class wondering when I was going to get out and not getting anything out of this if I am sitting in class looking at the clock. I said if I am going to go to MBA school I really need to go full time when I would really be focused and committed. Night classes just weren’t for me.
I thought if I couldn’t get into a top twenty-five program I would go to KU’s law school. I took the GMAT and did pretty well though I didn’t do exceptional. I think I was in the top seven percent. I applied to several schools including Cal and got accepted at the University of Texas.
DS – The University of Texas was in the Southwest Conference and Austin was larger than Manhattan. What was it like going to UT?
MM – Austin is a larger city than Manhattan, although back in ’93 it wasn’t nearly the size it is today. It’s really expanded. Most people lived pretty close to the campus and it still felt pretty insular. The average student lived within a few miles of campus. A lot of people would walk to school or take a bus, so you didn’t feel that you were in a big city, because you didn’t go to the vast majority of the city unless you had a job or something else. It really had a good campus flavor to it. Probably better than when I was at K-State when the football team was horrible in the pre-Snyder days. We (Texas) had John Mackovic as our football coach who had been a coach of the Chiefs. He had very mixed results at UT and the average person on the street was not a big Mackovic fan. To answer your question it had a great college vibe to it and a good bar district and it wasn’t that dissimilar from going to school in Manhattan
DS – After graduation did you stay and work in Texas?
MM – I wanted to move back to Kansas City when I graduated. The nice thing about the MBA school there is that they had people recruit nationwide. A lot of top firms came to recruit there. I interviewed with a couple of firms from California. One was called Tandem Computers the other was VLSI, which was a semiconductor design company. I also interviewed with Hallmark and a couple of other companies in Kansas City and Houston. Actually I interviewed with a lot of companies. I ended up getting a couple of offers from out here in the Bay Area. Back then they would relocate you for a year and pay for everything as long as you stayed for a year. My initial thoughts were I would just move out there for a year. It will be a fun kind of adventure and after the year is up I would try to move back to Austin or go back to Kansas City. In the early years I was first out here I did make some efforts interviewing with Sprint and made a little bit of an effort to get back to Kansas City. I thought I would be here a year or two max and that was many years ago and I am still here.
DS – What are you working today?
MM – I am in between full-time jobs but have been working as a consultant full-time for the last three months at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park trying to get a budget together for them and fix some of their financial processes.
DS – What do you do for fun
MM – I like to travel. I am a huge baseball fan and usually go to between ten and fifteen Giants games each year. My latest hobby is visiting all the current MLB parks. This actually began in MBA school went I went to the ballpark at Arlington and the old Astrodome in Houston. Of course I have been to lot of Royals games growing up. I’m like OK I’ve been to three ballparks and when I moved to the Bay Area I went to the old Candlestick ballpark and the Coliseum. I have been to five ball parks and I have read about people who go to all the ballparks and so this would be a great hobby to have and to travel around the country and go to different ballparks. Every city in America is interesting for a weekend or two or three days. There are always fun and interesting things to do in every major city in America (example: Cleveland with the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame). Plus if you love baseball you’ve got that. I have been to twenty-eight of the thirty ballparks in America. I am missing Cincinnati and Minneapolis.
DS – Do you have plans for visiting them?
MM – I don’t. This year I went on a cruise to Alaska and I’m going to Ireland at the end of the month so I didn’t have the time to go to those cities. I don’t know if I am slightly reticent to go as you have a goal and once you reach it and then the question is what’s next. I have decided that after I go to all of the ballparks that I am going to go to all of the Big XII football stadiums I have been to only three so I have seven more stadiums to visit after that.
DS – Other than AT&T park do you have a favorite ballpark
MM – Pittsburg is super nice and Fenway is really cool with the Green Monster.
DS – Do you get back to Manhattan very often?
MM – Being out in California it’s not that easy. I do go back to Dodge City every Christmas. I did go to the first Big XII football game in history. Texas Tech came to Manhattan and K-State won this first game. I did go back last year and I watched K-State play Texas Tech, which we also won. This year I have plans to go back October 10 to watch them play TCU who in pre-season is nationally ranked #2. Hopefully, we can give them a good game and maybe even a win. That would be awesome to knock off a top five team.
DS – What is your prediction for the TCU game?
MM – If I wanted to pander for just this chat I would obviously pick K-State to win. Dennis as you know you have the SnyderCats contest for picking the games and I have already TCU picked to win. I do have us ending with a 9-3 record for the year so I think it will be a successful season. As we have all these new quarterbacks coming in it’s going to take a couple of real games to figure out where we are at and I think we will be successful and will beat Oklahoma and some of the top teams, but I don’t know if we will be able to do it that early in the season. I’m hoping it’s going to be close maybe 24-21 TCU, but I hope I am wrong.
DS – Thank you very much for talking today. Is there anything else you would like to add?
MM – No, just go Wildcats and hope we have a great season. Oh by the way, I think the next CatChat should be about you.
DS - Maybe.