Here’s what a success story looks like

Some people tell great stories. Mark Caffey is living one. He can’t vouch yet for how “happily ever after” the ending will turn out, but it’s safe to say he has laid a very solid foundation that is paving the way in that direction.

For starters, Caffey is a successful entrepreneur who is involved in 17 to 19 businesses at the moment. “I honestly have trouble keeping track,” he says. The one that most often put him on the front page of the business section over the past 18 years is The Caffey Group, LLC. In a nutshell, the company specializes in all aspects of land-related issues in oil and gas. More specifically, that means leasing, minerals, title, pipeline right of way, seismic acquisition and due diligence for oil and gas companies. The company also generates oil and gas opportunities clients and friends can participate in and profit from.

It’s that next-to-last word that matters to savvy entrepreneurs. Caffey’s experience as CEO of the company along with his brother Chris as COO has been quite profitable, so much so that it has opened the door to other business opportunities, such as Lodge Energy; and Lodge Realty Partners; and Vernon Wells Sportsart Inc.; and Master Title and Escrow; and Legend Records, the recording studio he recently opened just west of Arlington; and his quest to bring chef and restaurateur Brian Olenjack back to Arlington; and his support of rising singing star Aquile and …

… Well, suffice it to say there are another 10 (or a dozen) other commercial pots on the stove, which explains why, not long ago, he made a significant business decision: He’s worked hard enough at the main gigs, so now he’s going to turn his primary attention to those ventures that are his passion. In other words – his – “It’s time to have fun.”

To that end, he’s focusing on four primary areas: music, art, charitable work and community involvement (not that the latter two were ever under-invested – but more on that later).

On the music front, he hopes the new studio will help aspiring artists find the success he helped Aquile achieve. “My daughter Emma heard him playing a fair in Oceanside (Calif.), and she said, ‘Daddy, you’ve got to hear this boy sing,” he recalls. “So I took her up on that. I knew in 15 minutes that he was going to be a superstar.” Indeed, under Caffey’s guidance, Aquile appeared on the star-producing television show “The Voice” and subsequently launched a successful recording and touring career.

Caffey’s latest “star in the making” is country singer Jesse Jennings from Fort Worth, whose new album “A Long Way from Home” is rapidly climbing the charts.

As for art, all you have to do is take one quick tour of the Main Street office Caffey shares with his brother and friend Toby Wilson to realize: (A) what a talented artist Vernon Wells II (known as V Wells) is, and (B) that Caffey has a lot of Vernon Wells art. The works are found throughout office, and he also has 31 pieces of Wells’ sports art on display at the Salvation Army and YET Center.

“I actually may have the world’s largest collection of works by Vernon,” he says. He also has a stake in helping others vie for that title as a partner who has helped finance and continues to market for Vernon Wells Sportsart Inc. That venture and Vernon’s amazing talent have helped the artist transform from being known as the dad of the former Arlington product/major league great Vernon Wells III into a renowned painter whose works are now hanging on walls all over the country.

Speaking of walls, those adorning Caffey’s office speak to another of his passions: sports. Practically every inch that can accommodate collectible items accommodates them.

There are golf clubs used by Ben Hogan, boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali, pictures of Cassius Clay before he became Muhammad Ali, and autographed baseballs and jerseys from dozens of Hall of Fame players, including the legendary Babe Ruth.

And, of course, there’s the NFL helmet collection that appears with Caffey on this month’s cover. Headgear are aligned, top to bottom, in rows depicting each division in the league. “My friends and I have a pool each year, where we predict how each division will wind up,” Caffey says. For the record, they nailed last year’s winners in half the divisions – including successfully predicting “his” Dallas Cowboys’ title.

Caffey has season tickets for the games of all four local professional teams, is a member of the Dallas Stars’ Ownership Advisory Group, and even owned his own women’s soccer franchise, the Dallas Lightning, which won two national championships.

By now, you see why we chose the headline we used at the beginning of this article – Mark Caffey’s story, which is still-being written every day, has been quite successful.

But not always.

“I’d like to sit here and tell you that everything thing I’ve done in business has been a success,” he says. “But that’s simply not true. A great entrepreneur has to be willing to take risks. I’ve certainly taken my share. And some have fallen flat, and I’ve had to pick myself up and start over. But I’ve learned something every time I’ve failed, and I’ve been fortunate to see most of the risks pay off.”

One that did – even when it didn’t – came when Caffey finally decided to marry at age 42. The union didn’t last, but it produced a daughter, Emma, and a step-daughter, Dakota, who bring Caffey great joy on a daily basis.

In fact, he now lives in Colleyville – that’s probably a surprise to those who see him at virtually every Arlington event – to be able to spend more time with Emma, a student at Grapevine High School.

Another passion is the time he devotes to charitable work, which goes hand-in-hand with his community involvement.

Growing up a “Boys Club Kid,” he considers the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington one of the more important organizations in the area. Likewise, The Salvation Army, where he contributes time and money helping the young people served by its Youth Education Town and was chair of the “Inspiring Hope” Luncheon benefitting the YET Center.

He is an active board member of Miracle League, which gives children with disabilities a chance to play baseball. And he supports The Gatehouse and Safe Haven, organizations that help women in crisis.

“I’m a big believer in giving back to the community,” he says. “My brother and I were raised by an incredible single mom, who married a Texan named Bob Caffey when we were young, and we moved to Texas from California into a house on Johnson Creek where AT&T Stadium is now. I keep a picture of our old house to remind me who I am and where I came from. I was so fortunate to have had many great mentors growing up, and in my business dealings I’ve met so many great people who serve as mentors to others and who give back to their communities. People like Jerry and Jean Jones and Charlotte Jones Anderson and Roger Staubach and Emmitt and Pat Smith and Jeff and Karen Williams. They know how important it is to give back, and I cherish the opportunity to do my part. When everything is said and done, that’s what’s important.”