Don’t complain…Get involved!
That’s a guiding philosophy for Trent Marquis Managing Partner for AGC-member Wide Hollow Development in Yakima.
Chair of the Yakima Chamber of Commerce Vice Chair of the Central Washington State Fair Chair of WSDOT’s TRANS-ACTION Committee – these are some of the “hats” Trent has worn in just the last couple of years.
Among his many volunteer efforts Trent has perhaps spent the most time working to enhance the economic vitality of the Yakima area by improving its transportation infrastructure. For several years Trent has served on the TRANS-ACTION Committee a group of municipal and business leaders that develops transportations priorities and advocates for them with a united voice.
“People often don’t realize the negative impact on business of a bad road system” Trent says. “Business develops around a road. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we don’t develop and then complain when our kids can’t get local jobs.”
The group has successfully promoted a number of major projects such as the Valley Mall Boulevard Interchange including new roundabouts that are significantly reducing delays and congestion and South Union Gap Interchange improvements to connect I-82 and US 97 with a more direct route to the Yakima airport.
“It’s amazing what you can do when you eliminate the in-fighting” says Trent. “Private business united with municipalities has such validity. It’s all about economic development and what gets the biggest bang for the buck.”
This year Trent is stepping down as Chair and his efforts have gained wide praise. “Under Trent’s leadership as chairman of TRANS-ACTION over the past couple of years we have seen many successes in funding and constructing transportation projects in our upper Yakima valley” says Don Whitehouse South Central Region Administrator for WSDOT. “He understands the value of a good transportation system to the business community and the importance of bringing people together to work towards a common goal. As with most successful business people his time is valuable but Trent dedicated the time and effort both here and in Washington DC to help secure the funding needed to improve our transportation system.”
In addition to his civic endeavors Trent is involved in a variety of business enterprises. Wide Hollow Development builds Class A office and retail buildings including Yakima’s Creekside Business Park for which Trent is also Managing Partner. Creekside Business Park is a pristine master planned business park that houses a mix of medical financial and other professional service offices as well as a restaurant and coffee shop.
Both of these businesses are owned under the banner of the Marquis family business Marq Enterprises. The multi-faceted family business has its roots in that little plastic thingamabob that holds bread bags closed. In the 1950s Trent’s father Theodore (Ted) Marquis worked for the inventor of the “Kwik Loc” Floyd Paxton who conceived of it while pondering the newly developed polyethelene bag and its inevitable popularity as a way to package Washington apples.
Ted Marquis was Sales Manager for the Kwik Loc operation that opened in Yakima and later founded his own company Marq Packaging which became a leader in innovative and technologically advanced packaging equipment. The scope of the family business grew as Marq Enterprises bought firms such as Arr-Tech which makes counting and stacking equipment for the tortilla industry and Northwest Tillers Inc. which builds rugged versatile high-quality tillers for many various applications.
“My family has always looked for companies that fit the other manufacturing endeavors” says Trent.
In 1972 Ted bought the property that Creekside Business Park is on and farmed it until 1998. Now it’s fully developed. Although the Creekside business tenants are diverse there is one common trait: “All the businesses display an American flag” says Trent. “I feel it’s important to honor those who have sacrificed to protect our freedoms.”
Respect for freedom and American values is something that Ted passed on to his children.
“My dad started with $750 and just kept going” says Trent. “My parents had nine kids and they taught us to appreciate free enterprise and to be careful to not let our freedoms erode little by little.”
Trent was born and raised in Yakima and married his high school sweetheart Julie. Trent graduated from Perry Technical Institute as a journeyman electrician and worked on construction projects in Montana. “I came back to Yakima and dad asked me to assist with the business and ultimately I headed the construction activities.”
He notes that not surprisingly the pace of construction work has slowed in the current economy. “We’re being very selective with regard to the projects we’ll work on” Trent says. “Right now it’s all about retaining clients and tenant improvements. We’re very conservative about any new construction. We’ve come too far to take unnecessary risks. We’re cautious and want to be good stewards of the business for the next generation.”
Not that it’s an automatic that the next generation will be working in the family business. Just as Ted felt about Trent and his siblings Trent says “I don’t want future generations to come into the family business as an entitlement – I want them to have an interest and something to offer in order to perpetuate the business.” That will play out over the years as Trent and Julie’s two sons are just starting out on their careers. One is an artist and the other is an aviation mechanic studying at Big Bend Community College.
Wide Hollow Development became an AGC member in 2006. “AGC gives us an advocacy group” Trent says. “AGC’s purpose is to facilitate and assist general contractors to make sure we know the rules and laws and to be ahead of the game. Our job is to build; AGC frees us to focus on what we do best by doing what it does best. It’s worth paying to have a consortium looking out for our interests. That’s why we’re members.”
AGC of course is just one more way that Trent Marquis gets involved to improve his community!