When you think of Mark Wahlberg, you might envision his 1990s rap career as Marky Mark or his decades as a movie actor. However, you might be less likely to picture car dealerships. Though celebrities and dealerships don’t seem like they’d go together, Wahlberg’s foray into the automotive industry has been incredibly successful. And it all began because of his burger business.
Mark Wahlberg’s long Hollywood career
Mark Wahlberg’s career in showbiz began in the early 1990s, when he performed as the lead in the rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. According to IMDb, he then appeared as a Calvin Klein model in 1992.
Throughout the ’90s, he guest-starred on several TV shows and video shorts, including The Ben Stiller Show, The Substitute, and Out All Night.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, he made a highly successful shift into film, a career he continues today. He has appeared in various well-known movies, including Ted, The Departed, Planet of the Apes, and two Transformers sequels.
A shift in focus
Although Wahlberg has enjoyed immense success in Hollywood, he has since expanded into other areas as well. He told the Detroit Free Press last year: “No matter how much success I achieve, I’m still as hungry and driven as I was when I started out.”
Perhaps it’s this hunger that drove Wahlberg to establish a chain of restaurants known as Wahlburgers. The successful business employs 185 people in Michigan alone.
Though the chain is performing well, the restaurant business isn’t Wahlberg’s passion, but rather that of his chef brother Paul. The actor’s interest outside of Hollywood is in the auto world, thanks to his youth spent as a tow-truck driver and mechanic in Massachusetts.
As luck would have it, Wahlberg’s foray into the restaurant business introduced him to an important automotive connection: car dealer Jay Feldman. Feldman invested in Wahlburgers, and he and Wahlberg “just hit it off right away,” Wahlberg told the Detroit Free Press. This meeting was the first step toward the actor owning his own dealerships.
Wahlberg’s Airstream and GM dealerships
Wahlberg and Feldman bonded over their strong work ethic and love of cars. According to the Detroit Free Press, Feldman Automotive’s revenues total $1.2 billion. In fact, Feldman’s chain of Chevrolet dealerships is responsible for about 1 percent of all U.S. Chevy sales.
This immense success was a draw for Wahlberg. After getting to know each other through their involvement in Wahlburgers, Feldman and Wahlberg began discussing opening a car dealership. Wahlberg agreed to put his name on the dealership, which Feldman knew would attract customers.
They purchased their first dealership in November 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Wahlberg’s name indeed proved to be an impressive draw. Media coverage of their first dealership was featured on shows such as Good Morning America and Ellen, garnering 475 million views.
Wahlberg now owns four dealerships: Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet of Columbus, Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet of Worthington, Mark Wahlberg Buick GMC, and Mark Wahlberg Airstream & RV. The Detroit Free Press reported that the dealerships will likely make $304 million in 2021. Wahlberg and Feldman are also looking to expand their dealerships to other areas, Automotive News reported.
From ’90s music idol to award-winning actor and businessman, Mark Wahlberg has had a long and unique career. Whether his name is in film credits or on car dealerships, there’s no doubt his brand continues to grow with each new venture.