Ex-Daytonian wants to help people manage money
‘My goal is to teach people how to invest effectively.’
Dayton native Vercie Lark has written a book about investing aimed at people of all ages and backgrounds. He was raised very poor but has built his personal wealth to more than a million dollars. He speaks to audiences across the country.
By Beth Anspach
Contributing Writer
PERSONAL JOURNEY It is estimated that more than 40 percent of Americans do not invest any money to build a retirement fund, save for college and unexpected medical expenses or even for that possible “rainy day.”

Vercie Lark grew up in a family of seven in one of the poorest neighborhoods in West Dayton. His family often barely made ends meet and it was a challenge just to eat and keep a roof over their heads. Saving money was not possible.

“My parents originally came from the south,” Lark said. “My dad was military and ended up working for General Motors, while my mom worked cleaning houses and eventually, at a day care center.”

Lark’s father lost his job at GM and became disabled and the family was living on around $10,000 annually. But, like most young children, Lark said he wasn’t aware of how poor they were.

“There were times when we did things like digging in dumpsters to find recycling,” Lark said. “But that was our normal.”

Lark graduated from Wilbur Wright High School and went on to college at Central State and Wright State universities. In 1986, he graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering. While at Wright State, he began working for Monsanto Research Corporation part time.

“Monsanto hired me full time after graduation and I was making $28,000 a year,” Lark said. “I thought life would be great from there on out!” As he progressed through his career, he ended up securing an engineering position with Compaq Computer Corporation in Texas. After Compaq was acquired by Hewlett Packard, he remained with the company and eventually became a senior executive. He moved to Kansas City and about 8 years ago, he went to work for DST Systems. And it was there that his career took a turn.

“I was working with some of the largest financial firms you can imagine,” Lark said. “That gave me really good insight.”

Lark and his wife, Lisa, began investing a portion of their earnings in order to secure their financial future. And over the years, they have accumulated more than a million dollars. Lark learned not only how to invest, but how to maximize those investments. He decided to write a book about his experiences.

“Most advisers don’t want to deal with small money,” Lark said. “Low- and middle-class folks have nowhere to turn.”

Lark published “Make It Rain: Increase Your Wealth & Financial Security” on Aug. 30 of last year. A blog by the same name offers financial tips to help people invest smarter.

“What’s true in Dayton, Ohio, is true in Kansas and in Houston,” Lark said. “Many of the jobs out there are minimum wage and people have to work two or three to make ends meet. It’s important that these folks learn to manage their money wisely.”

Lark’s travels across the country took him to cities, large and small, where he noticed the disparity between areas with large, thriving companies and impoverished neighborhoods, sometimes just a few miles away.

“My goal is to teach people how to invest effectively so that they will ultimately be able to invest in their own communities,” Lark said. “And of course, fulfill then own dreams.”

Lark remains actively involved in Dayton as well as in his local community in Kansas City, serving on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Computer Science Advisory Board at Wright State University.

“I want to get this book into the hands of middle and high school students and older folks and everyone in between,” Lark said. “I want to help people that came from backgrounds similar to my own and just don’t know how to manage or save money.”

Lark blames this lack of knowledge on fear of the unknown and on an economy based on consumerism.

“We are bombarded with advertising for things you can buy,” Lark said. “But there isn’t much on things you can invest in so you can get more money to buy more things! The key is knowledge. Once the fear is gone, most people can figure it out on their own.”

For more information about the book and blog, log on to www.youmakeitrain.com

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.