by Patrick B. McGuigan
Oklahoma City – An award for entrepreneurial excellence, named for the late Mark Costello, was recently presented to Hideaway-2., Inc. in Oklahoma City.
Cathy Costello, Mark’s widow, joined Gov. Mary Fallin, Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn-Houston, state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, Hideaway officials and other dignitaries for the presentation in early April.
In a statement, Houston said, “During these uncertain economic times, it is important to recognize and encourage entrepreneurship [as- a beacon of hope. As an entrepreneur himself, Commissioner Costello understood this and created the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Oklahoma Award. … I am honored to continue Commissioner Costello’s recognition by presenting this award to Hideaway Pizza.”
Gov. Fallin said, “Hideway-2, a group of former Hideaway employees and friends, continues the simple business philosophy of Hideaway Pizza’s founders, Richard and Marti Dermer: Keep your employees happy, provide a fun atmosphere and make the best pizza.”
Fallin continued, “It is fitting that the entrepreneurial award be re-named to honor Mark Costello,” said Fallin. “He was a dedicated public servant, and before that an entrepreneur who guided several businesses to success.”
Company officials joining for the presentation at a Hideaway on “Automobile Alley (901 N. Broadway Avenue, on the north edge of downtown Oklahoma City) included Darren Lister and Brett Murphy.
In an interview with The City Sentinel, Mrs. Costello remembered her husband’s dedication to advancing the economy of the Sooner State:
“As the state Labor Commissioner and protector of the wage earner and champion for the worker, Mark loved traveling … and meeting Oklahomans who create real private sector jobs. Mark learned firsthand that every job creating business had its own history and its own story, much like Richard Dermer of Hideaway Pizza.
“When Richard was 16 years old in 1955, the year my husband Mark was born, he was a delivery boy for Hideaway Pizza in Stillwater, which was only the second pizzeria in the state. By the end of his freshman year at OSU, he had married his high school sweetheart Marti and borrowed a loan to buy Hideaway Pizza.
“What is even more incredible is the fact that Richard had that loan paid off in two years, all while working on his degree in English which he completed in 4 years. He went on to pursue his MBA.”
She continued, “Mark recognized the need to honor those Oklahomans who create opportunities to feed their families and in turn create opportunities for others to do the same.
So, in 2012 Mark created the ‘Entrepreneurial Excellence in Oklahoma Award.’ No business was too small or too big, too young or too old, too rural or too urban to be considered.
“Entrepreneurship and job creation not only impacts our state economically, it’s much more. Entrepreneurship impacts our history and our culture, much like Hideaway Pizza, which is an Oklahoma icon.”
In our exchange, Cathy Costello expressed deep gratitude to the current Commissioner of Labor, Melissa Houston, for adding her husband’s name to the award. Costello characterized the designation as a “gracious gesture” on Houston’s part, and said it “means a lot” that Richard Derner’s company is the first recipient.
With Mrs. Costello for the April 1 ceremony were two of her children, Anna-Marie and Ian.
Mrs. Costello indicated she shared her husband’s passion to support businesses who create jobs through individual investment and personal risk-taking. She said, “The state of Oklahoma spends millions of tax dollars to lure out-of-state businesses to Oklahoma. Mark launched the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Oklahoma Award as just one step in moving Oklahoma ahead with more and better paying jobs by recognizing those who have a history of creating jobs in our great state and to encourage future entrepreneurship.”
Also taking part in the recent ceremony were key members of Commissioner Costello’s leadership team at the agency in the years before his untimely death, including Liz McNeill, Jim Marshall, and Scott Irwin.
Marshall, who served as Commissioner Costello’s chief of staff, now works at the Oklahoma Department of Insurance.
The late Commissioner Costello won statewide elections in 2010 and 2014. When he began the entrepreneurship award, Costello wrote, “Why would the Commissioner of Labor be at the forefront of recognizing entrepreneurial excellence in Oklahoma, you might ask? The answer is found in Oklahoma law, under Title 40, Section 1-b-3 that directs the Commissioner of Labor to ‘advance opportunities of wage earners for profitable employment.’ There is no better way to fulfill this mandate than to recognize those entrepreneurs who have created profitable employment for their fellow Oklahomans.
“According to the magazine The Economist, an entrepreneur is one who has the idea and enterprise to bring together the factors of production such as land, labor, and capital to produce something valuable. An entrepreneur must be willing to take a risk in pursuit of a profit. The economist Ludwig von Mises holds the only possible path to prosperity is through entrepreneurial activity which provides for an expansion of free markets and private capital investment.
“Oklahoma is a state rich in entrepreneurial success. The discovery of oil and a “strike it rich” reputation brought people from throughout the United States and the world to seek their fortune in Oklahoma. Those who came to Oklahoma sought out the opportunity to feed their families, improve their condition in life, and to succeed in building their own fortunes.
“These early settlers created jobs for themselves and they created opportunities for their neighbors. As they built their businesses they expanded job opportunities for more and more of their neighbors. The Land Runs contributed to the depth of entrepreneurship by attracting those individuals with a pioneer spirit. The days of success based on oil and agriculture are today shared with multiple other segments in our economy such as commerce, technology, and manufacturing.”
Commissioner Costello often reflected on the diversity and strength he found among the small business owners in the state. He said, “I am constantly in awe of Oklahoma and the many successful and profitable private companies that I have been exposed to. Each of these amazing business owners has a unique story about why they started their company and how it has evolved over the years.”