Mark Witbeck, vice president and director of finance and operations, is retiring after 30 years at Ave Maria Press.
Publisher Thomas Grady acknowledged that it was “impossible to summarize adequately the many contributions that Mark has made during his 30-year tenure at Ave Maria Press. He and his seasoned team of colleagues are responsible for developing, maintaining, and improving the infrastructure that allows the rest of the rest of us to do our jobs.”
Grady credited Witbeck with creating and refining the tools and metrics that Ave uses to help measure its performance and its success as a business; transitioning the accounting department from adding machines and early spreadsheets to the sophisticated computer systems we use now; spearheading the effort to acquire the Thomas More, Christian Classics, and Forest of Peace imprints for Ave in 2003; leading the effort to professionalize the company’s shipping and warehousing operation while maintaining a near-perfect efficiency rate; and overseeing the closing of Ave’s printing business in 2012. Grady noted that Witbeck has ensured a strong, professional, and productive relationship with the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priest and Brothers, of which Ave is an apostolate.
“Ave Maria Press has truly been a great place to work with a supportive board of directors, a great management team, and a dedicated, long-term staff,” Witbeck said. “We have seen tremendous change and disruption in the publishing industry in the past 30 years, but always came out stronger in the end.”
Outside of his work at Ave Maria Press, Witbeck opened the first Sports Clips franchise in South Bend in 2009 and a second in 2012. He sold his stores in 2017 in preparation for retirement. He has served on the board of directors for First Tee of Indiana-Michigan since 2013.
Prior to becoming controller at Ave in 1989, Witbeck worked in community newspapers in Houston, Texas, and Big Rapids, Michigan, and managed a video rental business for Family Video. He was also elected the youngest-ever member of the Big Rapids City Commission at age 26.
Witbeck and his wife Lana have a daughter Analise. He plans to christen his retirement in September by spending a year cruising the Great Loop.
Ave Maria Press was founded by Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., in 1865 and is recognized as a leader in publishing Catholic high school religion textbooks, parish resources, and books on prayer and spirituality. Ave Maria Press is a ministry of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.