Mark Kvamme's Cash Cows

Kathy Lynn Gray
In this August 2014 file photo, auctioneer Todd Woodruff yells out the bid of Mark and Megan Kvamme as their daughter Gracie Jean, 1, smiles along at the Sale of Champions in the Celeste Center at the Ohio State Fair.

Drive Capital co-founder Mark Kvamme’s transformation from a dyed-in-the-wool California tech investor to a true Midwesterner has been helped along by two goats, two cows, two hogs, a turkey and a sheep.

Kvamme, who was lured to the Buckeye State in 2011 by former Gov. John Kasich and ran JobsOhio for about two years, has become an unlikely but avid supporter of the Ohio State Fair’s Sale of Champions. Since 2013 he’s won eight animals at the sale, a raucous affair where the top livestock shown by youngsters are auctioned off at inflated prices to farm organizations, restaurant chains, grocers, marketing companies and individuals.

Kvamme saw something in the kids he recognized: budding entrepreneurs.

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“It’s kind of like they’ve created their own mini company,” he says. “It reminded me of being in Junior Achievement when I was a kid.”

This year he joined Meijer and Steve R. Rauch Inc. to win the Reserve Grand Champion Market Beef for $56,000—a record—and unexpectedly won the Grand Champion Goat. Kvamme tapped his daughter, Gracie Jean, on the back anytime he wanted her to bid, and the 6-year-old got excited and kept going, he recalls, laughing.

The Sale of Champions is the end of the line for the animals, so they don’t go to the gentleman’s farm that Kvamme and his wife, Megan, own in Muskingum County. They use the meat for cookouts or give it away to friends or food banks.

He hopes to be back next year.

“I look at those kids who win and all the kids presenting, and they’re so proud,” Kvamme says. “I’m a city boy, but I know how much work they put in.”


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