By Kathleen Swift

Photos by Savanah Mandeville

“You would be hard pressed to find anyone as active and engaged in Cherokee County growth and business expansion,” said Janet Miller, Cherokee County, Kansas, economic development director speaking of Mike Carpino. Carpino was recently honored as the 2018 Hall of Fame winner by the Cherokee County Economic Development for his years of unselfish service to the community and for his work in shaping a positive climate for economic growth. Miller added, “We are proud of all of our nominees and their commitment to business and the communities involved. Mike and his wife, Lynn, have been generous and active in so many activities.”

Carpino, owner of Mike Carpino Ford in Columbus, Kansas, is a modest man and downplays the recognition he has received. 

“It is a wonderful honor, and I am humbled to be recognized. So many people in our community volunteer their time to make our community a better place to live.”

Over the years, Carpino and his wife have been involved with the community in numerous ways, always looking to make life better for others and strengthening the sense of community.

“As a graduate of Columbus Unified High School, one of my favorite events is hosting the Drive 4 UR School event in Columbus,” said Carpino. “During this event, for every vehicle evaluation made, we donate $20, up to 300 test drives, giving students the opportunity to raise $6,000 for their extracurricular activities. This helps families off-set the cost of school trips and helps provide funds for school programs. It’s not a gimmick, and there is no pressure to buy a vehicle. Parents and teachers go along on the test drives, not a salesperson. It helps us evaluate our vehicles while raising money for the school. We wanted to make it more of a community event, so we set up a tent and provide hot dogs and drinks. People can sit and visit, and it becomes a community gathering.”

Carpino has been serving the automotive needs of the local community for the past 30 years and opened the Ford dealership in Columbus in 2005. This year, Carpino was nominated as one of Time Magazine’s Auto Dealers of the Year. 

“There are 16,800 new car dealers nationwide,” said Carpino, “I was honored to be nominated and was one of 47 dealers represented at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in March.” Carpino was nominated based on customer satisfaction, sales in the local market and his commitment to the community.

Carpino has long been a supporter of youth activities such as youth softball, baseball and 4-H. He’s been active in the chamber of commerce and currently serves on the board of directors for the Midwest Ford Dealers advertising fund and is chairman of the local Subway advertising board. He also serves as president of Brush Creek Golf & Grill, the former Columbus Country Club. Carpino is a member of the Columbus Economic Development Board and a past board member of the Columbus Community Foundation.

Commitment to the community is important to Carpino. “We’ve been active in refurbishing the dugouts on the ballfields, and we sponsor a concert and dance during Columbus Days.

“I couldn’t do any of this without my wife, Lynn. Without her, I am nothing. We’ve been married for 25 years and have two daughters, Haley and Hannah.

“I am fortunate to have great employees working with me; Robbie Carpino and Chet Saporito have worked with me since I opened Mike Carpino Ford, and most of my employees have worked with me for over 10 years and are graduates of CUHS. To me, they are part of my family.” said Carpino. “No one does anything good alone. We believe in our community, and lots of people working together is essential. We do it all together.”