Meet Perry Mandera, an Intriguing Chicago Philanthropist Worth Knowing About

If you’ve worked in the Chicago nonprofit scene for long enough, there are a few prominent names that seem to come up in conversation on a regular basis. Aside from the obvious ones, like Pritzker, Crown, and Polk, there’s Perry Mandera, a trucking industry leader who’s been getting more and more involved in the world of philanthropy lately.

A Chicago native, Mandera created his own transportation business at the age of 23 and he founded the Custom Companies in Northlake, Illinois. This is a company that handles transportation, warehousing, and distribution with 33 major-market distribution centers and more than 350 power units across the country.

His success in the trucking business has allowed Mandera to be especially active in the Chicago community and in philanthropy, both locally and nationally. He’s given to groups like the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation and also sent truckloads of food and supplies to hurricane victims down south after Katrina. He founded his own charity, called Custom Cares Charities, which is a nonprofit that supports underprivileged children.

Custom Cares has sponsored over 100 youth sports teams throughout Chicagoland and other Illinois communities. This funder also provides financial educational support to kids and young adults who have been disadvantaged or abused, as well as veterans causes. As a Marine veteran himself, Mandera has embraced veterans are another topic of philanthropic interest.

One organization that has seen Mandera’s support is the Jesse White Tumblers, which helps kids be active and provides educational tutoring. He has also served on the board of directors of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation to assist this funder with its holiday giving programs and fundraisers for underserved youth.

Yet Mandera is a man of many interests and an intriguing character to say the least.

For example, he’s a big boxing enthusiast and has managed amateur and professional boxers in the past. He’s also coached football, baseball, and basketball teams for kids. Mandera owns a small café called the Glenview Grind, which also donates money to nonprofits like the American Red Cross and Operation Support Our Troops. He supports the Illinois State Crime Commission, an organization that has awarded him a Bishop Sheil Award in and a Citizen of the Year Award within the past decade. Mandera has provided donations to the Police Athletic League as well.

But as with many successful businessmen who have walked the streets of Chicago over the years, Mandera isn’t without his fair share of controversy. Mandera’s Custom Companies was ordered to pay over $1.1 million in a sexual harassment case that alleged adult entertainment in the workplace, including requiring female sales reps to entertain Custom Companies customers and clients at strip clubs in Chicago.

According to news from DNA Info, Mandera owns the Herbal Care Center, a medical marijuana dispensary near the Illinois Medical District in Chicago. In addition to this and his trucking business, he also owns VIPs, a Near North Side strip club and a group of gyms called Charter Fitness.

It’s hard to keep up with all that Mandera is up to these days, but for the most part, we’re primarily interested in his philanthropic involvement in and around Chicago. You can learn more about Mandera and his approach to business and philanthropy on his website and his Twitter page.