Metro Detroit's Most Powerful Women in Business
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The epitome of positive, uplifting, and life-changing energy, it’s fitting that Florine Mark is on her cell phone in the middle of a herd of sheep somewhere in Chile. At one time the largest franchisee of Weight Watchers International, Mark is a multifaceted entrepreneur, media personality, author, and two-time cancer survivor.
For a poor kid growing up in a house with 13 family members on Detroit’s northwest side (she didn’t know she was poor, and started working at 11 years old), Mark has done well for herself.
By anyone’s measure — she built a business in Farmington Hills from scratch to include 6,000 employees, who were responsible for overseeing operations in 14 states and three countries — she has been enormously successful. Yet, Mark says, her prosperity didn’t come without sacrifice.
Consider she passed on a chance to attend college so her two sisters could pursue their dreams. She’s also battled with fluctuations in her weight, having gained and lost 50 pounds on nine separate occasions.
“Everything I’ve learned the hard way, through experience and reading,” she says. What’s more, she attributes her success to a “fire in my belly, and a passion in my heart, for the thrill of growing a business.” — Paul W. Smith
In the last of a series of computer programming positions she held during the 1980s, Cynthia J. Pasky saw the light. “I was working for a very structured company, and if something didn’t fit in the box, it didn’t happen,” she recalls. “The company also wasn’t engaged in the community. I thought there was an opportunity to be far more creative with customers, while forming the capacity for community involvement.”
Enter Strategic Staffing Solutions in Detroit. A provider of multiple IT services, vendor management programs, and an executive search program, the company, founded in 1990, has grown every year — a remarkable feat, given the last two decades have delivered three economic downturns.
“We work with up to 100 companies at any given time, but our core business is made up of 30 companies,” Pasky says. “We treat each of our clients individually, and we really study their markets and look for opportunities to help them grow.”
Active in the community, Pasky serves on numerous boards, including Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Youth Foundation, and the United Way of Southeastern Michigan. She’s also assisting in the turnaround of the Detroit Public Schools. “I don’t have a formal role, but the turnaround of the schools will lead to a better future for everyone,” she says. — R.J. King