For his selfless dedication to promoting and bettering the Great Bend community, Mark Mingenback earned the 2017 Citizen of the Year award from the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development. Mingenback received this surprise honor during the organization’s Annual Meeting & Banquet on Saturday at the Great Bend Events Center.
“For anyone who has been involved in the Great Bend community over the years, there are likely a few names that might come to mind when thinking of individuals that tirelessly and selflessly promote the businesses, nonprofit organizations, and amenities that make Great Bend home,” said Jan Peters, President/CEO of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & E.D. “But at the top of that list is a person who has given more time and energy to the betterment of Great Bend than most. It is our privilege to award Mark Mingenback the 2017 Citizen of the Year award.”
Mark and his wife Leslie both grew up in the Great Bend area. In fact, they often share the story of how they were both born at St. Rose Hospital 22 hours apart. Their names appeared on the same page in the nun’s birth registry. But the two wouldn’t strike up a romance until they were seniors in high school. While getting his education, Mark was already proving himself as a leader, graduating as an Eagle Scout before graduating with his diploma. After high school, they both attended Kansas State University. Mark graduated in 1973 before moving to Kansas City to work for Macy’s and later decided to pursue a master’s degree in marketing from Kansas State University.
In December 1976, the couple welcomed their first child, Andy. Just two months later, Mark and Leslie loaded up their family and moved back to Great Bend where Mark was recruited to help with a small start-up company that would later be known as CPI Qualified Plan Consultants. Back then, the enterprise had only six employees, and Mark was hired to help them expand their footprint. When his knack for building relationships and catalyzing sales became well known in the community, Mark was recruited to run a men’s clothing store, known as Brentwood Limited. At the time, the store was located on Lakin Avenue and was struggling financially. With Mark’s creative ideas and charisma selling suits and clothing, things quickly turned around for the young businessman. Mark was featured in a 1979 issue of Menswear Magazine, and won numerous awards within the retail industry.
“Mark was always trying new things, always on the cutting edge of the business world in his industry,” said Leslie Mingenback. “He was one of the first people in town to sell products online, and it started with chocolates. If he decides to try something, he will do the research and figure out how it works. That’s one of the biggest reasons he was so successful at whatever he tried during his career.”
For well over two decades, Mark was the guy you went to for a great quality suit and he was also the guy who could solve a problem, regardless of what it was. “Numerous times in the past four decades, if Great Bend had a challenge to overcome or a goal to reach, Mark was usually involved helping make it happen,” Leslie recalls. “When we owned the store, Mark organized a huge fundraiser for hurricane victims through the American Red Cross called ‘Return a Favor’ that ended up bringing in more than $25,000 for charity. He is the best promoter, and he really cares about helping people.” The couple’s second son Matt was born in 1981.
Other examples of Mark’s volunteerism include his service with United Way of Central Kansas. He has been active on their Board of Directors since the 1980s, and served as chairman. When the flood of 1981 devastated much of Great Bend, Mark stepped up with other volunteers in a “Save our City” campaign to organize petitions and educate the public about the importance of flood control. This eventually led to him running and being elected to the Great Bend City Council, a position he served in for 12 years. Another great example of Mark’s leadership in Great Bend was his role in helping to plan and execute the MyTown project in the downtown district, a board that he still serves on today. His passion for small business made him an exceptional volunteer for Downtown Development, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, the Barton County Economic Development Council, the SBA Southwest Kansas Loan Review Committee, and many other initiatives.
Mark’s impressive resume includes countless professional achievements, including teaching college level business classes for a time, facilitating trainings on customer service and personality assessments for other local businesses, and being selected to participate in Leadership Kansas. But even more impressive is the continued list of volunteer activities he squeezed into his ambitious professional life. Mark helped establish the Great Bend Foundation which will continue to benefit City projects well into the future. He has served on the Board of Directors for Sunflower Diversified Services, Farmers Bank & Trust, the Kansas League of Municipalities, and Cheyenne District Friends of Scouting, to name a few.
Mark’s passion for helping others and promoting his hometown earned him the Who’s Who Among Young Business Executives, the Great Bend Person of the Year 2008, and the Enlightenment Award from retail industry leaders in Chicago. Wherever Mark goes, he is always looking out for Great Bend, promoting its assets and finding ways to make the community better. Those qualities are what convinced the leadership at Central Kansas Medical Center to recruit Mark to the health-care industry, specifically into physician recruitment. The Mingenbacks closed their retail store at the time when “casual Friday” was starting to change the retail industry, and Mark dove headfirst into selling Great Bend instead. In addition to recruiting more than 38 health-care providers to the area, Mark was also responsible for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital foundation and the cancer center foundation.
In 2016, Mark decided to take his passions for entrepreneurship and small business development and retire from the health-care industry. His retirement has been busy, though, to say the least. Since retiring, he has assumed numerous roles, helping his son Andy grow his business, Brentwood Builders, which is named after the store that shaped their family for so many years. Mark has also used his health-care industry experience to consult for a number of nursing homes and health-care facilities throughout Kansas, and now serves as the vice president for SunPorch, a company that consults, develops and manages nursing homes in western Kansas.
“Mark always likes to say that since he started out in life at St. Rose in Great Bend, it was only fitting that he end his career there too,” Leslie said. “He has poured his entire life into improving the Great Bend community, and winning this award is a monumental and humbling experience.”
When he’s not tackling a community issue or helping other business owners improve their companies, Mark enjoys photography, cooking, traveling, and spending time with his family. Mark, Leslie and their dog Tess live in Great Bend, as do their son Andy, with wife Tina and daughter Olivia. Their son Matt lives in Texas with his wife Brooke who is also a Great Bend native, and three children Georgia, Bowen and Rosie.
Citizen of the Year Criteria
The “Citizen of the Year” award is presented by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development to recognize an individual for their volunteer service. The winner must be creating a meaningful impact as a role model for others, and be seen as a leader who has helped pave the way in their workplace and in the community.