Perry Mandera – serving those in need
Perry Mandera is someone who lives to be of service to others in need. That is why his very first job was the highest service that Americans could perform. He joined the U. S. Marine Corps Reserves right after he graduated from high school. This move led him toward the company that he runs today that he called “The Custom Cares Companies, Inc.”
While with the Marines, Perry Mandera learned to drive a truck, so his job was to transport troops and supplies. This training taught him how vital shipping was to every goal and helped him see the need to perfect these services.
He received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Marine Corps, but this did not end his service to the community. He found another way to serve by signing up to run for office in his city, and he became the Republican Ward Committeeman for the 26th Ward in Chicago in 1984. He was the youngest person to receive this honor at that time and served from 1984 until 1988.
After he left the Marine Corps, Perry Mandera continued to practice the trade he learned in the service as an employee for several transportation companies. In 1980, he had developed enough experience to start his own transportation company, and he went into business for himself.
The Custom Cares Companies made it possible for Perry Mandera to do something that is even more important to him than helping the businesses in his community. According to Perry, God has given him the means to help other people, so he is going to give everything he has to do that. He got his chance in 2013 when a natural disaster struck. That was when a tornado destroyed the town of Washington, Illinois, and Perry Mandera put his trucks to use to aid the victims.
The Custom Cares Companies
Clients of the Custom Cares Companies are owners of small- and medium-sized businesses, but he also services Fortune 100 corporations. His company currently employs more than 300 people, and it has brought in more than $200 million. The company is known as a “full-service transportation provider” that has a presence in several cities within the United States.
One Call Does It All
Perry Mandera has a vision for this company, and he has developed a motto that explains it. The motto is “One Call Does It All,” and it lets everyone know that the only place people need to go for all of their transportation services is his company. Along with offering every kind of transportation service possible, he also ensures that it is provided to the best of his ability. That must be why his company is known for offering its clients “world-class service.”
Perry Mandera knows that his company is exceptionally run because he is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. He balks at the idea of allowing a representative to speak for him. Instead, he is engaged with every customer in every area of the business. On top of that, his clients can receive what they need from the company 24 hours a day and every day of the year.
The Custom Cares Charities
For the purpose of advancing his philanthropic agenda, Perry Mandera founded the Custom Cares Companies in 1986, but now, he does more than serve the needs of large and small businesses in the Chicago area with his company. He founded “Custom Cares Charities” in association with Custom Cares Companies as a way of helping people in need. One of the actions that his charity has been involved in has been offering families in the surrounding areas $10,000 each during the holiday season. These families received monetary assistance so that they could enjoy the holidays as they wished to enjoy them.
The Custom Cares Charities support individual people in need, but they also support other organizations that are committed to giving back to society. To this end, Perry maintains a long list of companies that he supports that have proven to be generous givers. For example, he has provided funds for more than 100 sports teams, but Perry Mandera does not just donate funds to the teams he supports. He has also been able to coach several teams, and this includes baseball, basketball, and football.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, Perry Mandera used his company’s trucks to take food and supplies to these states. In all, more than 40 truckloads of goods were sent to these two states at that time. When fires were burning all over California, Perry Mandera did the same thing for the people there that he did for those in Louisiana and Mississippi.
In order to be considered by Perry Mandera, the organizations he supports needs to have the desire to maintain a healthy environment for all children and young adults as well. Also on this list of beneficiaries are children who are growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Another sport that Perry Mandera is passionate about is boxing (Inspirery.com). Along with coaching children, he also participates in managing and funding adult boxers. One of his charges did so well that he was able to participate in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He also had the opportunity to manage an Irish boxer who competed in the 2004 Olympics.
The Board of Directors
Two organizations that fit Perry Mandera’s mold are The Jesse White Tumblers and The Walter & Connie White Foundation. He agrees so much with these two charities that he joined the board of directors for both organizations. In his work with these two enterprises, he has been able to offer many children the transportation services they needed. These lucky kids also received winter coats from Perry Mandera. In total, he gave 6,500 coats to the kids in the Chicagoland area.
Perry Mandera is also on the board of directors for the Illinois Transportation Association, and in 2000, this organization gave him its “Top American Transportation Executives of the Millennium Award.” In 2010, he received another award from the Illinois State Crime Commission. In that year, the organization honored Perry with the “Bishop Sheil Award,” and in 2011, it also gave him the “Citizen of the Year Award.” Finally, they even gave Perry Mandera the “President’s Award.” In 2000, the Italian American Executives of Transportation gave Perry its “Executive of the Year Award.”
Help for the Veterans
As a veteran himself, Perry Mandera does not forget about the veterans of this country. To ensure that he can also help veterans in any possible way that he can, he associates himself with Hiring Our Heroes and Marine for Life, two organizations that are addressing the problematic issues that veterans face each day. The charitable organization Two Soldiers and a Marine also benefited from Perry Mandera when he offered a donation. This enterprise is a catering business that is owned by veterans. In this respect, Mandera doesn’t forget his roots in the Marines and always tries to help veterans in need.
In a recent interview with IdeaMensch, Mandera discussed his philosophy about business, life, and making the inevitable mistakes along the way.
Bringing ideas to life and staying productive
Mandera said he’s the type of person who gets around four hours of sleep a night and starts his early mornings by reading emails and returning phone calls – he does this to stay on top of the constant barrage of messages he receives on a daily basis. On average, he said he writes around 300 business-related emails a day and uses 9,000 cell minutes a month – this way, he said, he can continue to communicate with everyone from customers to vendors and employees. Although Mandera said he typically has lunch every day with an employee or vendor and attends four entertainment events (sports or theater) a week, he dedicates the rest of his time to family, which he said is a fundamental part of who he is.
But what helps someone like Perry Mandera bring an idea to life? Well, Mandera said it isn’t just him who helps an idea come to life, and entrepreneurs who undervalue those around them often fail. He said some entrepreneurs fall into the habit of thinking their opinion is the only one that matters, but in the long-run, this philosophy is detrimental to the business. Mandera said he has people who have worked with him for over 30 years and has a group of ‘go-to’ colleagues that includes employees and managers. To take an idea from its conception to execution stages, Perry said consulting with these people is of the utmost importance. In addition to his core group of go-to people, he also said he relies on an outside consultant and an I/O (Industrial/Organizational) psychologist for additional perspectives.
Mandera is a self-described perfectionist, and said he strives for perfection ‘whenever possible.’ At his company, he said a phrase that is often used is ‘do it right the first time,’ which saves everyone time and headaches in the long-run. As a recent example of this, Mandera said his company recently conducted a survey regarding the stress points of employees – when asked what percentage of their days were dedicated towards correcting something that someone else didn’t do right, the average was 25 to 30 percent, to which Mandera responded “my logic is that if you train people to do it right the first time, you avoid a domino effect of others having to fix your mistakes.”
Overcoming obstacles and growing business
Mandera said one of the most significant pieces of information he can give to help improve businesses is taking strategic chances. To Perry, few ideas become a reality by standing in the sidelines – just like anything else in life, he said, being too conservative in business never allows it to grow, and never allows your business to reach the next level, whatever it may be. Mandera said by taking risks, you are effectively doing something your competition may not do, and this may give your company the upper hand in a given situation. In addition to these risk-related decisions, he also said investing in new technology and equipment is important for similar reasons, you may have something your competition doesn’t.
Even though Mandera has had success throughout his career, he said failure is inevitable and can help entrepreneurs grow their business sense and become savvier. Mandera invested in a company that ended up being a bad investment – he ended up putting in a lot of time and money, and on top of that put in even more effort to retain as much of the company as he could. Even though this investment wasn’t as fruitful as his other endeavors, Mandera said there is nothing better than a bad deal, because it helped him grow in many ways and learn to take more time before making large decisions.
‘Chicago Shark Tank’ and the best $100 to spend
During the IdeaMenschinterview, Perry said one business idea he was discussing with friends at dinner was something he called ‘Chicago Shark Tank,’ where prospective business owners would come in and request financial support similar to the hit T.V. show. In exchange for the funds, the business owners would be required to give 10 percent of their profits to charitable organizations for the duration of the company’s life. Even though this idea is hypothetical, Mandera said he is always a supporter of ideas that help give back to the community because it is an important task to help those in need.
Mandera is someone who practices what they preach – when asked about the ‘best $100 he recently spent,’ he said it would have to be when he bought dinner for two veterans he encountered at a restaurant. As a veteran, Mandera said he never forgets where he came from and always tries to help veterans when he can. In terms of something tangible, Mandera said he just purchased a set of vintage cufflinks.
On philanthropy and advice for his younger self
“I love helping people in need. I have a soft spot for children,” Mandera said. “I try to help them have better tomorrows, financially. Whether it’s helping with their family, tuition, clothing, food, you name it. I’ll also sponsor young athletics teams that don’t have money for uniforms or travel and things like that.”
Mandera also said every December when he sends letters to his employees, he asks all of them to help someone in need, whether it is a family member or total stranger – he also said they get little paragraphs about what they need in terms of financial assistance, and said he does everything in his power to “make the holidays nicer.”
Looking back on his youth, Perry said he wishes he could tell himself not to be as impulsive and think more. He also said he would tell himself to listen more and do less – although he wishes he could tell himself this, he does a lot more listening now. Perry said when you’re young and full of energy, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and think you know everything. As you get older, he added, it’s easy to beat yourself up about the mistakes you made when you were younger. Even though this is easy to do, he said all you can do is move forward and try and pay attention to the aspects of your life you wish to work on.
Favorite books and industry trends
Mandera said right now, the ever-changing nature of technology fascinates him. He said it’s important to stay on top of trends because everything moves so fast and equipment becomes outdated at lightning speed. He also said technology doesn’t work without the people who create it, so it’s important to keep that in mind while adapting to change. Because of its ever-changing nature, Mandera said in all of his years working in the transportation industry no two days have been the same.
Even though Perry is busy managing a company and keeping up-to-date on current trends, he still has time to read – two books he said have impacted him greatly are Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. He said these books, which cover life and the afterlife, give a unique look into realizing you are human and everything in life is possible.
Overall, Mandera said one of the biggest pieces of advice he can give is something that may seem mundane or small to most people. “Saying please, thank you, and complimenting my coworkers [is important to me,” he said. “The best ideas come from talking to people that I’m close to and being able to listen to their ideas. That doesn’t happen without me showing that I appreciate them.”