Mark Peterson: Pursuing adventures abroad and at home

December 14, 2022

Mark Peterson: Pursuing adventures abroad and at home

Grown Locally is presented by House of Flavors Restaurant of Ludington and features local entrepreneurs and businesses.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

BENONA TOWNSHIP — Mark Peterson grew up on his family’s fruit farm, helping in the orchards and later in the processing plant located on Oceana Drive. His parents, Earl and Linda Peterson established Peterson Farms Inc. in 1984, which is Oceana County’s largest employer. Mark, a 2002 graduate of Shelby High School, worked in the plant through high school and college. When he graduated from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and a minor in marketing, he became vice president of operations, overseeing 900 employees.

Mark oversaw negotiations with McDonald’s to sell apples processed at Peterson Farms to the worldwide chain. He also met with executives from other major corporations such as Walmart, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Costco.

“That experience I gained was great. I had been working on the farm since I was a kid. I think I started mowing orchards when I was either 9- or 10-years-old. I reached a point, though, when I was 30 when I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to go into the outdoor industry. That was my love and passion but what I didn’t know at the time was what I really wanted to do in it.”

Mark says he had heard horror stories about similar scenarios of adult children leaving the family business or farm. “My dad handled it really great. I couldn’t have asked for a better transition,” Mark says. “My dad helped me transition away from the family business and I kept a healthy relationship with him and my brother and sister, who are still involved.”

Mark says he grew up hunting with his dad on the farm, which is how he developed a passion for the outdoors. In 2013, Mark made the move.

“I decided to get into television. That was the worst possible decision I could have made, starting right off with a TV show. But, that was the glamorous thing to do. I didn’t realize that it would take five years to get traction and to build up a following. Since that time I’ve learned a lot. I was really stiff and uncomfortable in front of the camera the first couple of years. I’ve since learned to just act natural.”

To help his endeavor, Mark purchased a small booking and tag agency called World Trophy Adventures (WTA) based out of Sidney, Neb. A year later he acquired Cabela’s Outdoor Adventure and Trophy Application Guide Services. Mark says the company was being sold off by Cabela’s as it merged with Bass Pro.

WTA has since acquired several outfitters in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Mark serves as owner and chairman of WTA while Ryan Watchorn, who came from Cabela’s, serves as CEO. Mark’s role is also to oversee marketing, which allows him to work on the multimedia platforms of television, streaming and podcasting. His digital series, “Mark Peterson’s Triple Threat” focuses on big game hunting in North America. His international, “Mark Peterson’s Expedition Series,” takes him around globe. He has a large following and hunting trip sales tend to increase when the shows air.

Mark also is an owner of The Wildlife Gallery Customer Taxidermy Studio in Blanchard, co-owner of Rusted Rooster Media and Hatch Marketing Group, which does video editing and 3-D animation, among other things, and Hatch Marketing Group, which offers branding services, media planning, and graphic design. He also recently acquired Redy Nutrients.

Married with three teenaged children, Mark says he has has slowed down his traveling a little bit to spend more time with his children. “Up until COVID I spent 180 days a year away from home,” he says. “Since that time I’ve dropped it down to about 120. That’s still a lot of time away from home. I’ve come to realize that all of a sudden my kids are 17, 15, and 13 and these last 10 years went by quickly. I made the decision to be around more. I started coaching my youngest daughter’s eighth grade basketball team at Shelby Middle School and I am also a junior varsity girls basketball coach at Shelby High School. “That’s something I’m going to continue to do until my kids are out of school.

“I get to be on some pretty cool experiences but I’ve decided that I’m not going to trade the time with my kids.”

He says he films many episodes in the woods of his property near Lake Michigan. His dad, Earl, also accompanies him on many adventures. His current series follows the North America Deer Slam where he is traveling throughout North America to hunt every species of deer.

Follow Mark on YouTube here:

 

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