When Mark Grainger ‘77 – Vice-President and co-owner of Grainger Honda – was born, his father was a Ford Motor Company dealer in North Carolina. At age seven his family moved to Savannah where his father continued in the automobile business. Mark worked part-time and summers in the dealership parts and service departments, as well as spent a lot of time washing cars. Ever since, Mark has never once considered doing anything else but working in the car business surrounded by family and friends.
Grainger Honda – located across the street from the SCPS Chatham Parkway campus – is without doubt a family affair. Mark considers many employees family, and many have worked there for years. He also counts his customers from the SCPS family and all the Savannahians that patronage Grainger Honda as special. He appreciates each and every one!
After graduating from Furman University with a Political Science Degree and a minor in Business, Mark started working in the family business, immediately. He initially asked his older brother, Bill, for two weeks off to travel and enjoy some time off after four years of college, but Bill would not hear of it.
So, the Monday morning after graduation, Mark put on his best slacks, dress shirt and tie, and showed up for work. With his new status, he thought surely they had bigger plans for him than what he had been doing. After several hours of waiting on an assignment, Bill told him that he had better change out of those good clothes because he would ruin them washing cars!
Mark learned from his athletic endeavors at Savannah Christian what discipline meant. Much of what he has applied to his career, he learned through his school coaches. He loved football, and played tailback and flanker for the Raiders.
He has the utmost respect for Coach Doyle Kelley and the late Coach Bubba Attwood. Mark’s father died the year before he came to SCPS and these coaches were a strong influence on him, along with his three older brothers. Coach Attwood greatly influenced his choice to go to Furman. Several colleges were options, but Furman offered him a scholarship and the decision was made.
The first SCPS athlete to receive The Ashley Dearing Award, Mark credits Coach Kelley for the opportunity to even be considered.
After football season, Mark had his driver’s license and his priorities began to move away from all the “work” of playing basketball. Besides, he had just finished a long football season. When Coach Kelley heard he was considering quitting basketball, he told Mark that he was not a spectator, but a player. He then told him to just keep his uniform and, if, after sitting in the stands and watching the game he decided he wanted to come back, he could.
Well, not too far into the second quarter of the game Mark knew he could not sit in the stands and watch. As the team went into the locker room at halftime, he was dressed out and ready to play. Given that one requirement of the Ashley Dearing Award was that the athlete must participate in football, basketball and a spring sport, he is thankful that Coach Kelley did not “write him off” during this time of decision making, and, instead, gave him a chance to stay in the game. Eventually, Ashley Dearing and Mark became lifelong friends.
Mark remembers Coach Kelley to be tough, holding practices on Christmas and New Years days, “But, it kept us in line the nights before.”
Mark’s personal life has been as solid as his professional career. He met his wife, Bendy (Belinda), on Tybee Island following a dare in which his buddies told him that she was way out of his league as she strolled down the beach. That was all it took to motivate Mark to go talk to her. She initially dismissed him, but he continued to pursue her and, of course, the rest is history.
Mark and Bendy have two sons, Sam ‘09 and Luke, 14. Bendy is not encouraging the boys to follow in their father’s footsteps with the automobile business, since she knows the years it took of working late hours, Saturdays, and even New Years Eve, when Mark worked late into the evening.
“But,” Mark says with a smile, “I think Sam wants to join the Grainger Honda Team after college.” Recently, on the way to church, Bendy reflected on Mark’s life and commented, “You have a wife that loves you, two sons that love you, two dogs that love you, and you love what you do!”
Truly, what more can you ask for?
Mark serves on the SCPS Board of Trustees and has maintained an active involvement in SCPS for many years as an alumnus, Board member, SCPS parent, and church and community leader. In his spare moments, Mark has been known to direct his dealership security cameras toward baseball games across the street. From the comfort of his office, he can zoom in close enough to see the beads of sweat on a pitcher’s face and the smile of another Raider rounding the bases to score. Yes, Raider victories are still sweet. Go Raiders!