75 Stories: Mary Kane Butkovich, Project Director

2021 marks the 75th Anniversary for Clark Construction Company. To celebrate, we’re using our employee’s voices to explain the impact Clark has made to our fellow teammates, communities, and clients. This is Mary’s story.

After almost 35 years at Clark, I have so many stories to tell.  When I was 19 years old, John Clark tapped me on the shoulder at church one Sunday and said, “I hear you need a summer job, show up on Monday and wear jeans.” Then I recall working with Mike Farnsworth at Fisher Body where listening to his colorful language for months led to me being banned from the tennis courts due to my newly acquired swearing skills. It has been eventful, educational, and memorable journey.

One of my best memories is the insight Leon Clark would share with me on occasion when I would see him in the office. He was truly a great man!  In 1986, I graduated from college and the very next day I was on site at Ionia Maximum Security Prison. Jake Wagner was the Superintendent and on my first day there he looked me in the eyes and told me that a woman did not belong out on a jobsite and I should go home. Ken Lawless told me to hang in there and that eventually Jake would come around.

A year later on my 22nd birthday, I had to stay late after work, only to be incredibly surprised when Jake showed up with beer, cards and many of the trade contractors to celebrate my birthday.  I am forever thankful that years later, the last job Jake worked on before he retired was one we did together.  There were many superintendents I worked with in my early years that helped mentor and season me, such as Don Volk, Mike Spitzley, Harry Schmidt, Paul Davis, Bernie Simon, and Gordon LaCross.

I distinctly remember on a project with Don Volk, when he overhead me struggling with a trade contractor to get them to perform he told me I was being too nice. He instructed me, “Don’t ask them to do something, just tell them to do it.”  A few days later, he overhead another conversation where I was using a more assertive tone and he looked at me, nodded his head, and said you’ll do just fine!

I am very thankful for the long, successful and rewarding journey I’ve had with Clark, as well as all the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the years and continue to work with today!

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