Local Business Owner Uses Personal Success to Give Back to His Community.
Mark Whitlow hasn’t let the success of his business change what he feels is most important in his life. Even after a move to Downtown Kansas City, Mark considers himself a Blue Springs native at heart. Mark is founder and owner of Office Products Alliance (OPA), the largest locally-owned office product supply company in the Kansas City Metro Area; but he’s more than just a local business owner. Mark is also an active philanthropic force in the area and has been for a long time.
“I feel as a local business owner, I have an obligation to give back and help the fabric of our local communities. Business goes hand in hand with philanthropy and giving locally. My philosophy on charitable giving is if you can, then you should.”
Mark carries his personal philosophy and life experience into his work as well. A prerequisite for working at OPA is involvement in the community. Community engagement and volunteerism is a key to creating a fun environment for employees to work in. He feels that he can make a difference in the community, not only financially but by getting others involved.
“If you are waiting for a big sign to get involved in something, it isn’t going to happen – you have to look for the little things to make an impact. If you start local, you can change the world. You have to lead by example and utilize your skill set to help others.”
Mark is involved in several organizations around the area that he feels most passionate about. A cancer survivor himself, Mark was an avid supporter of the American Cancer Society even before his own diagnosis. He says his own personal struggle with cancer only pushed him to further heights with his volunteerism for the organization.
Along with the American Cancer Society, Mark and several of his employees are involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He believes that doing things for the youth of the entire metro area is both an investment in the future as well as a tremendous amount of fun.
And as a self-made businessman, Mark can appreciate just how easy Truman Heartland makes his charitable giving.
“Truman Heartland helped me think about growing my impact through a donor-advised fund. It made me realize I could be more strategic with my giving now and later in my life. I can plan for giving through my retirement as well as make a final gift that will leave an ongoing legacy once I’m gone.”
Mark has had much business success. But when asked what he will be most proud of looking back on his life, Mark says that it won’t be his business accomplishments. It will be the time and resources he gave back to his community.