Principled Philanthropy

Phil Jenkins
Phil Jenkins

This article first appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of Impact.

When asked by an Ann Arbor News reporter to provide reasons for his generous philanthropy, Phil F. Jenkins responded: "I don’t want the government to have my money. They can’t run a three-car funeral, why give them money to run something else?" That quote ran prominently in an article devoted to Jenkins and raised quite a storm among readers. His words may not have made him the most beloved guy in certain Ann Arbor circles, but the subsequent responses in his mailbox indicated that his sentiments were popular.

Generous? Without a doubt. Principled? Yes. Outspoken? Certainly. Troublemaker? Some might say so. Yet, without those character traits, Phil wouldn’t be Phil. At the Mackinac Center, he is a triple threat: a friend, a member of our Board of Directors and a contributor since 1997.

Jenkins is the founder and CEO of Sweepster Inc., which manufactures attachment, walk-behind, self-propelled and airport runway sweepers for airports, municipalities, agriculture and construction work around the globe. He admits it was his commitment to excellence and the relationships he created — not his engineering skills — that propelled his business to the top of the industry and led his company to eventually outsell Japanese competitors — in Japan.

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Success in business allows Jenkins to be a philanthropist today. Eager to assist many noble causes, Phil has donated both time and money to the University of Michigan’s medical school and hospitals, contributed significantly to the new U of M Depression Center and supported the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and teen shelters in Washtenaw County.

Jenkins is a genuine Michigan success story. The Mackinac Center considers him to be a great friend and a wonderful ally in our fight against big government.