Post-Exit: Former Suburban Propane CEO passionate about new pursuits

April 6, 2015 By    
Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander, former CEO of Suburban Propane, stepped out of the industry about six years ago. While in the industry, he says he served with the National Propane Gas Association and helped with its relocation from Chicago to Washington, D.C. He says he also improved his employees’ perspective on customer service.

Alexander says he has steered away from the propane industry in recent years, explaining he is confident in the workers he chose to lead Suburban Propane after he left. Since leaving the industry, Alexander spends most of his time working with the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that has a goal to rid the world of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.

Alexander hasn’t always been passionate about helping advance this cause. Prior to 2009, Alexander says he was ignorant to what was happening with sexual assault worldwide. He received a phone call from Tom Nunan, son of Suburban Propane’s former vice president of sales and a founding member of the Joyful Heart Foundation.

“He said to me, ‘You’re the type of person we could use on our board,’” Alexander says.

In 2009, Alexander became the Joyful Heart Foundation chairman, helping with strategic planning for the nonprofit. Alexander says he spends half of his time in a day on Joyful Heart Foundation matters. He says the time is by no means a waste, and that serving with the Joyful Heart Foundation has been one of his more rewarding life experiences.

“It’s a dark subject to discuss, and up until recently, society didn’t want to talk about it,” Alexander says. “But I think society is ready for conversation. There’s interest in doing something about sexual assault versus keeping it in the closet.”

Alexander describes meetings for the Joyful Heart Foundation as “emotional rollercoasters,” but he says victims’ success stories give him hope. Alexander also works with Mariska Hargitav, founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation and actress on “Law & Order: SVU.”

“Meeting and interacting with Mariska was great,” he says. “She’s the real deal – she is a genuine and passionate person who cares deeply about the cause.”

Alexander supports several other community efforts in his hometown. He helped fundraise to build six soccer fields, six baseball fields and two therapeutic barns in his New Jersey community.

In addition to the Joyful Heart Foundation, Alexander created a real estate business to redevelop old homes to preserve their architecture. Alexander says he dabbled in this prior to retirement, but it wasn’t until 2009 he started to invest a lot of time in this interest.

“They say they don’t build things the way they used to,” he says. “These buildings [I’m redeveloping] have tremendous architecture. I’m preserving the architecture and bringing them back to life.”

Alexander says his investment company has supported the redevelopment of two buildings so far. He says there are eight more potential buildings in the redevelopment process.

Alexander stays away from the propane industry, explaining that he’s reached a new chapter of life.

“When you’re no longer having fun at a job you’ve held for a long time, it’s time to retire and don’t look back,” he says.

When he left Suburban Propane in 2009, he says he was confident about his business and the people who were at the company.

“I was proud of the fact that I worked myself out of a job,” he says. “You’re probably not going to hear that often. I built a talented team around me, and [when I left], it was their time, and time for me to move on.”

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