Estate Society: Mark McDonough ’72 — From the Bottom Quartile to the Top of the Heap

Mark and Carol McDonough recently established The McDonough Family Scholarship in Memory of Rev. Joseph A. Rock, S.J. H'81

Estate Society: Mark McDonough ’72 — From the Bottom Quartile to the Top of the Heap banner image

Mark McDonough ’72, the former co-owner of Buckingham Manufacturing, a safety equipment manufacturer for linemen, arborists and telecom professionals, will be the first to tell you that he did not take his studies seriously during his high school days in Binghamton, New York.

“I was in the bottom quartile,” he said.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm for his schoolwork, McDonough knew that he wanted to apply to a few colleges, including The University of Scranton. His high school guidance counselor, however, told him his plans were unrealistic, and the rejection letters he began receiving after their meeting seemed to confirm that opinion.

That all changed when a fellow Binghamton native, Charles Costello '51, arranged an interview for McDonough with Rev. Bernard R. McIlhenny, S.J. '98, then-dean of admissions at the University. After their discussion, McDonough was accepted at Scranton on the condition that he attend the University's pre- college program, a six-week, probationary college prep boot camp."They taught us speed reading, how to use the library, and a few other things," he said.

“It was tough. I decided, ‘Maybe it’s time to study?’“

During that time, McDonough lived in Hafey Hall, which was also occupied by Rev. Joseph A. Rock, S.J. H’81, then- academic vice president of the University, and the two struck up a friendship. After completing “pre-college,” McDonough excelled academically and decided to major in accounting.

McDonough met his future wife, Carol, during a weekend trip back to Binghamton. When one of his brothers enrolled at King’s College, Mark became worried that he and his family might not be able to pay his tuition, and he applied for financial aid; after he discussed the situation with Father Rock, he received a half tuition scholarship that alleviated his concerns. An internship with Arthur Andersen senior year soon led to a job offer, and he began working there after graduation. He married Carol in August of 1972, and the couple soon welcomed Kevin, their first child, into the world in 1973.

After two years with Arthur Andersen, Mark took a job at a CPA firm in Binghamton that specialized in handling small business clients, and he began to suspect he had the skill set to run his own company.

“In my mind, I was kind of like, ‘I’m smarter than this guy, I could do this,’” he said. “That was the seed that eventually led to (Buckingham Manufacturing).”

McDonough eventually began working as the vice president/ treasurer of Raymond Corporation, a forklift truck manufacturing company. After he and Carol welcomed their second child, Chris, into the world in 1976, and Kathryn ‘04, their third child, in 1982, he and a fellow executive at Raymond purchased Buckingham Manufacturing in 1984. Over the next 27 years, they grew the company from 38 employees to 240 employees, proving McDonough's suspicion that he would succeed in business correct.

McDonough sold his stake in Buckingham Manufacturing and retired in 2009. Today, he and Carol split their time between their residences in Binghamton and Naples, Florida, and they enjoy visiting with their eight grandchildren throughout the year.

“Retirement has been spectacular,” he said. “I’m happy.”

McDonough credits a great deal of his success to the lessons he learned at Scranton, especially the notion of cura personalis, or caring for the whole person, which he said encouraged him to think creatively and critically.

“When I was at Scranton, I thought (the) liberal arts courses were a waste,” he said. “Over time, they enabled me to be not only more well-rounded, but also helped me be a better manager in my career.”

McDonough never forgot that his Scranton education gave him the tools he needed to ascend from the bottom quartile, and he and Carol recently established The McDonough Family Scholarship in Memory of Rev. Joseph Rock, S.J., a scholarship that will give Scranton students the same opportunity Father Rock gave to Mark more than half a century ago.

“Scranton focused me, and it paid off,” he said. “It’s important to give back.”

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