After a successful career in the coffee industry, longtime Woodinville resident Mark Howley has opened a business consulting firm and launched a podcast.
Mark Howley Consulting & Speaking was designed to offer practical and simplified advice to business professionals on their career path. He also holds speaking events for the community and recently began a podcast, “The Mark Howley Show.”
The consulting firm was created in 2021, he said. Previously, he owned and operated Pacific Bag, Inc. for over 20 years. He sold the business, which had 5,000 customers and about 70 employees, in 2019.
As a business owner over the years, Howley honed his skills to retain employees as well as manage cash flow and inventory.
“You have to find ways to attract employees to a small business when you have Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing around Seattle,” he said.
As a consultant and aficionado for business management, he hopes to help other small-to-medium-sized business owners find success, he said.
“Nothing comes without some commitment,” Howley said. “Choose a path or profession, and usually that path is driven by something.”
In his podcast, Howley sits down with local leaders and residents with two questions in mind: “How did you do what you did, and why?”
He has spoken with a variety of businessmen and women such as a Washington state trooper, financial manager and graphic designer. He also interviewed Kimberly Ellertson, executive director of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce.
“I'm mostly just intensely curious,” Howley said.
The podcast is accessible via Spotify or his website: www.markhowleyconsulting.com/podcast.
He said episodes were recorded in a professional studio and will be released bi-weekly.
Before forming the consulting company and podcast, Howley’s business focused on packaging specialty coffee. Pacific Bag manufactures unique bags for specialty coffee, tea, pet food, foods, chemicals and other niche markets around the world.
Pacific Bag was acquired by an investment group in 2003, he said. To buy the business, Howley began borrowing funds from banks, mezzanine lenders and investors. After eight years of minority ownership, he gained full control in 2010.
Howley held the patent to the one-way degassing valve (otherwise known as the belly-button in coffee bags). After roasting, he said, coffee releases carbon monoxide. The valve allows gases to escape from the packaging without letting oxygen back into the bag, he said.
“Coffee’s enemy is oxygen,” he said. “If you stop oxygen from degrading coffee, the coffee stays fresh.”
Before all this, Howley soared through the ranks as a “hotshot” salesperson for a packaging company in Pennsylvania, he said. Ultimately, the job brought him to Western Washington. He and his wife settled down in Woodinville, where they raised five children.
Howley started from humble beginnings, he said. Growing up with seven siblings, he quickly learned how to get along with all sorts of people.
He ultimately attended Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where he dedicated many hours to the sport of lacrosse.
His interest in lacrosse persuaded him to coach seventh and eighth graders in the Woodinville Lacrosse Club, he said. While he doesn’t coach now, Howley is still a board member for the nonprofit.
As a young adult, Howley struggled with addiction. But now, he has remained sober for about 36 years. He utilizes his passion for public speaking to encourage people of all ages to take a step toward healing from addiction, he said.
Once a month, Howley shares stories about his personal experience with addiction at Lakeside Milam Recovery Center. He is also on a local board that provides treatment for individuals struggling with addiction.
“They’re just trying to escape from reality,” he said. “I know that feeling because I was there. It’s a desperate feeling.”