A successful small businessman and proven job creator, Dave Spence knows what it takes to get our state’s economy back on track. For nearly 27 years he worked tirelessly to build his Missouri-based company from the ground up. While quality manufacturing jobs were evaporating across the country, Dave broke that trend and helped provide a good living for hundreds of Missourians. Now he is running for governor to ensure that others have the same chance to succeed that he had.
Spence grew up in the working-class neighborhood of Overland. After his parents’ divorce, he lived with his mother and two sisters and quickly became accustomed to hard work. While attending public schools, Dave made extra money mowing lawns before going to work at age 14 sweeping floors at his father’s small business. The work ethic he developed as a young man served him well later in life.
Dave graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981 and went to work full-time for the family business. The recession of the late ’70’s and early ’80’s hit hard. The company’s customers dried up, the business went under, and his father’s house was auctioned on the courthouse steps to help pay off a personal loan guarantee. Dave was flat broke and out of a job. At that moment, he set out to make his own way.
Dave found a small plastics manufacturing business, Alpha Plastics. He saw its potential, but the banks did not. Time after time, he was turned down for a loan to buy the business until his persistence finally paid off. In 1985, at the age of 26, Dave bought Alpha. At the time, the business had about 15 employees and $350,000 in annual sales. Through hard work and determination, Spence led Alpha’s remarkable expansion. It wasn’t always easy, but when Dave stepped down to run for governor, the company had over 800 employees and almost $200 million a year in revenue.
Over the years, Spence has received numerous awards for his business and charitable efforts. Dave was the recipient of the 2012 National Association of Container Distributors Hall of Fame Award, the industry’s highest honor. He also won the Fast Track Award from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce for Alpha in 2009 and again in 2010 for Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging. Dave and his wife of 21 years, Suzie, live in the St. Louis area with their four children where the family is involved in numerous church, civic, and charitable organizations.