So busy that it makes you wonder how he finds time for himself throughout the day.
The Dels Corporation owner is in charge of eight commercial units and 427 residential properties throughout Arkansas and Missouri, and his work list is only growing.
His business is adding a Rio Burrito, a burrito franchise he started with his wife Kelsey Bertel in Mountain Home, to West Plains, Arkansas. In Branson, Missouri, he’s currently building the OZ+MO Commons, a new Euro-inspired, eco flat residential complex just 1 mile outside of Silver Dollar City.
His Mountain View complex, Sylamore Studios, is set to open this summer for residents seeking a minimalist lifestyle in the popular folk music town.
In Mountain Home, Bertel oversees the Dels and North Village, both minimalist complexes that focus on bringing affordable “micro” housing to the area.
And while affordable housing has been Bertel’s theme since the creation of his company in 2018, he’s finally ready to dip his toe into higher-end housing, and he plans to do it by fixing up Spring Valley Motel, one of Mountain Home’s biggest eyesores.
“I rented when I was 18, 19 years old,” said Mark Bertel. “I had to rent, and I realized that rent’s high everywhere in this area and just finding a spot for people, our niche is that. This property will be different because I think we’re going to upscale it a little bit since it’s only 12 doors.”
The Spring Valley Motel/Kitchenette complex has been in rough shape over the past couple of years and has become a source of concern for the Baxter County Sheriff Department after multiple drug arrests were made at the location.
The exteriors of the motel’s two buildings were falling apart, and garbage was regularly strewn about the property. Boarded-up windows covered an interior that featured graffiti, holes, mold, and more.
The City of Mountain Home, which has been cracking down on properties in disrepair over the past few years, had the property listed as a nuisance property back in 2019, alongside the Mountain Home Hotel. Both properties went to auction through the Sheriff’s Office last year after the Baxter County Circuit Court threatened to have both properties razed if their previous owner didn’t work to clean up the site.
On Dec. 27, the Spring Valley Motel passed into the hands of Bertel for $140,000, who immediately began work on the motel.
“This is bad,” said Bertel as he surveyed the outside of the motel. “We did the new roof a couple of weeks ago. These are going to be a black exterior with like wood doors—kind of a mid-century modern. It’s going to be different from other properties in town.”
Bertel is looking to put as much as $300,000 into the property, renamed the Center City Commons.
Once completed, the Center City Commons will feature 10 single-bedroom apartments and two bigger two-bedroom units upstairs.
Each apartment will come fully furnished by Butler Furniture in Mountain Home, and all utilities, including water, trash, and electricity, will be included in the rent. Yelcot will provide each apartment with high-speed fiber internet.
Apartments will have all new HVAC mini splits installed in each unit, and an on-site laundry room will be available for residents to use. A community room and business center will also be available to tenants.
Bertel said he would be building a new outdoor patio and fire pit for residents to enjoy throughout the year.
“They’ll come furnished, and they’re going to have a modern approach,” Bertel said. “That’s kind of what we do. So, it’ll be more minimalistic modern design features—fiber internet through Yelcot. We’ll furnish them with Butler Furniture. We try to do everything local as much as we can. It’s kind of our M.O.”
With a higher-end approach in mind, Bertel said he would focus on attracting transient working people that visit Mountain Home to work for a couple of months at a time at places like Baxter Regional Medical Center and Baxter Labs. The renovation work on the property is expected to be done by April.
Bertel said those who were previously living on the property were supportive of his move to renovate and moved out within the allotted time he gave them.
“I gave ample time to leave. I didn’t come in here and say, ‘get out,’” Bertel said. “We’re going to try to make this place nice. All of the people that were here understood and were really cool. They were like, ‘Thank God, because it needs it.’ So, we gave them 45 days to leave, and a lot of them were out within 10 days. Being a landlord is very weird, and people have to understand that you can’t treat people like they’re less than. That’s not right.”
A Mountain Home native, Bertel founded The Dels Corporation in 2018. His very first project was fixing up a mobile home. Since then, his construction company has expanded to be one of the biggest in the Mountain Home area.
Bertel has also served on the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas’s board and currently serves on the board of Mountain Home’s Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m a native. I went to school here. I went to college here. I’ve lived here my whole life,” Bertel said. “Me and Kelsey were best friends in high school. And I was a working guy. I had a good family, but I didn’t have the road paved in gold. I just kind of kept acquiring properties that otherwise people would think were unusable or disgusting and put the sweat equity in with our crew to transform them into something nice.”
Christopher Fulton is an Arkansas-based journalist and U.S. Navy veteran. Fulton graduated from the University of Memphis in 2020 summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. After seeing a void in Mountain Home’s local news market, he founded the Mountain Home Observer and currently serves as the online newspaper’s CEO and news reporter.