NeMar: Lessons for Future Entrepreneurs

NEMAR co foundersPutting together the story of NeMar these past few weeks, we have seen a textbook example of qualities needed for a big project.

Keep in mind, the entrepreneurs Marlar and Neely didn’t come to town with a pile of daddy’s money. They were both self-made men.

I’m sure textbooks have different words to describe these qualities but I’m going to call them:

1. Connectivity

2. Opportunity

3. Visibility

4. Integrity

5. Audacity

6. Tenacity.

Connectivity: From my understanding of this story, Neely and Marlar were talking one evening after a Jaycee meeting and it came up that the nine acres on the west side were in foreclosure (Opportunity). This highlights the importance of staying connected in the community. It makes me wonder if either Neely or Marlar had stayed home by the fire that one night instead of having the discipline to go to Jaycees, NeMar might never have happened.

Visibility: These guys stayed visible in the community by volunteering and getting out in front of people. For many years, not a single Claremore Progress was printed without Neely’s name and picture. Just a small ad, but always there. He saw to it that everyone had calendars, pens, ice scrapers, notepads and more with the Neely name on them.

Integrity:  Would-be entrepreneurs need to pay special attention to this one because it is often overlooked in business today. You don’t just waltz into any bank and borrow the kind of money it takes to do a deal like this. These guys had been out there for fifteen years or more in Claremore running their businesses honestly, doing what they said they would do, and paying their bills on time.

Audacity:  Some call it nerve, some call it guts, some call it other things, but its importance cannot be overlooked by the young man or woman who wants to get ahead. These guys were willing to drag bankers and city officials out to a swamp and convince them to see what was possible. They were willing to stake their reputations and their bankrolls. I have to wonder how different this might have turned out if Marlar hadn’t chased the Humpty Dumpty man from the Linger Longer to Catoosa. How many of us would have the nerve (audacity-guts) to do that?

Tenacity:  There were a lot of obstacles to overcome. There are with any project of scale. The key was keeping their eyes on the ball.

Those fifteen years spent selling insurance and fixing teeth were necessary for a deal like this to someday happen. Those Jaycee meetings and a hundred others were necessary. The worries about Cat Creek were necessary.

But it finally came together, and through NeMar Center, the young entrepreneurs enriched both themselves and their communities.

Our hats are off to them!

We have published a four-part series on the history of NeMar Shopping Center over the past several days. To get caught up, read those stories first!

NeMar, Part One: The Dream

NeMar, Part Two: Swampland

NeMar, Part Three: If You Build It, They Will Come

NeMar, Part Four: Grand Opening


A special thanks for the Neely family providing materials for this story. I knew and have known Jack Marlar and Paul Neely most of my life. From the beginning I have looked up to them, and particularly to Paul Neely, as people who are winners both in the business world and their community, people to be admired and people to be inspiration for young entrepreneurs everywhere.  -Robby Melton

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