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Virtuoso Design + Build

743 Beaubien St
Detroit, MI 48226

Mark Klimkowski on going from college to business owner

Mark Klimkowski can be found toiling away in the offices of his own business in Detroit, Virtuoso Design + Build.

It's the place the Detroiter wanted to end up but the way he got there wasn't exactly the way he envisioned it happening.

"My eventual goal was always to have a design-build company," Klimkowski says.

Klimkowski graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a master's degree in architecture in 2009. The education was great but the job market was the opposite of that thanks to the Great Recession.

"I applied for jobs all over the country but never got one interview," Klimkowski says. "I did get a little freelance work on some residential projects."

So he turned those residential projects into the beginnings of his own business and launched Virtuoso Design + Build. The downtown Detroit-based venture specializes in everything from interior design to construction build outs. The first years were not easy, but Klimkowski was able to scratch enough work to put food on his table.

"That's when I was getting enough work and stopped being a starving artist," Klimkowski says. "It stopped being a way to get by."

Those days didn't last. Today the company handles design and build out work for Bedrock Real Estate Services, Hello Innovation and Crema, a new bakery set to open in Greektown. It's an active player in the downtown Detroit building boom and is overseeing a team of a handful of people. Klimkowski isn’t looking back.

"It probably ended up being better this way," Klimkowski says.

Would he ever consider applying for another job now that he has created his own?

"No, no,” Klimkowski says. "That would never happen again."

Would he recommend the path he traveled to others fresh out of college and looking to one day start their own business?

"If you're OK with spending three years of your life as a starving artist," Klimkowski says. "You have to really like what you’re doing, too."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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