Mark Lowery, an entrepreneur who believes in giving back, is married with three children and enjoys the island life. Caribbean travel led to his latest endeavor to bring a smooth, refined tequila to the U.S.
What can you share about your background?
I grew up in Tampa and graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I moved from Gainesville to Jacksonville for three years before moving to Boston. In Boston, I was responsible for installing the Ice Rink for the new Boston Garden where the Boston Bruins play — now called TD Garden.
I moved back here in 2003 and have been here ever since. My wife also attended the University of Florida and we will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary in November. I have two daughters in college, and a son who just started high school.
Were you always interested in engineering?
I was always better in math and hated reading, so I wanted to do something that would be physically measurable. I started work as a mechanical engineer and got my professional engineers license. However, I wanted to do more than just design, so I attended UNF night school in the MBA program, but I left for Boston before getting my degree.
I finally got my MBA at Georgia State University in Atlanta while working as an engineer. This helped me understand operations and business management and allow me to look at advancement into other fields. Ultimately, I became a manager and owner in my first engineering and contracting business.
This allowed me to blend the technical and the operations side and set my future path.
What was your first job ever?
Mowing lawns for $2 each (using my own lawn mower and gas) in Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina. My next job was selling newspaper subscriptions door to door at night — out of a van with three other kids.
What drives your continued engagement in philanthropy?
I have always believed that we have a duty to give back. No one does it alone and everyone needs help at one time or another. We believe in providing necessary resources to organizations that support those facing life’s challenges in our community. There is no better reward than knowing someone really appreciates the help you give.
Tell us about the tequila venture.
I love the beach and visiting the Caribbean. While visiting, we noticed that only beer or rum is featured. My friends and I thought that if we could bring a good tequila to the islands, it might provide an opportunity. We went to Tequila, Mexico to sample recipes, decided on the smoothest tequila possible and started importing. We designed a bottle, top and packaging unique to our brand and started marketing it stateside, first importing it to Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Our Anejo and Reposado varieties are being bottled right now and will arrive in Jacksonville Beach shortly. Presently, the brand is in more than 100 locations statewide and growing. People can order from most states and we’ve started to import to California.
What does the name mean and how did you decide on it?
Vida de louie Tequila or “life of louie” is like living the carefree life you always wanted – relaxing on on the beach or sailing through warm, crystal clear waters. Think of Louie as a pirate from Mexico with tequila instead of rum as a drink of choice. Also, we do not capitalize vida de louie as we prefer to be informal!
What sets it apart from other tequilas?
It is extremely smooth and easy to drink. There are oranges in our logo, as we ask that you drink it with an orange, instead of a lime, to enhance the flavor. It’s real tequila with an island vibe.
What is your recipe for success?
Never say know the first time, always be open to new experiences and live life with no regrets.
What do you like best about living in Ponte Vedra?
Living at the beach where the weather is nice means people are happier and willing to help each other. I have met some great people.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy going to the beach, concerts or live music, snow skiing and seeing the Gators and the Jaguars play. Mostly, I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids and doing just about anything they want. We enjoy traveling to the Caribbean and anyplace where there is clear blue water and sandy beaches.
What is one thing even close friends might be surprised to learn about you?
I am extremely proud of my parents. They were from two sides of the Earth. My mother is from Italy and married my father while he was serving in the Air Force. She learned English from watching soap operas and never graduated high school. My father is from Rock Hill, South Carolina. He joined the Air Force and served 21 years. He’s a Vietnam War Veteran. He was the only one of his siblings to go to college — earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.