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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Michael Bixler's Entrepreneurial Roots Fuel His Passion for Mentoring at Spark Thomasville

Michael Bixler, compassionate leader at Spark Thomasville, smiling in professional headshot
Michael Bixler: Coach at Spark Thomasville, empowering underestimated entrepreneurs through education, coaching, and affordable capital access.

Generous and hard-working Thomasville celebrities continue to give their time, talent, and treasure to push our community over into greatness. Gotta brag on another one: Michael Bixler. He inspires us. I think his story will inspire you too!

When Michael Bixler first heard about Spark Thomasville at his church from Harry T. Jones, he knew he had to get involved. With over 30 years of marketing experience and a family legacy of entrepreneurship, Michael recognized the transformative potential of Spark’s mission to empower underestimated entrepreneurs in his community.

Michael’s passion for entrepreneurship runs deep. His father, a serial entrepreneur, started and sold many businesses, while his wife’s parents built an impressive empire of their own. From them, Michael learned the power of hard work, self-determination, and the freedom that comes with being your own boss.


“I wanted to be in charge of my career destiny,” Michael reflects on his decision, after years of working for others, to launch MarketLink Strategic Marketing Services in Thomasville. That leap of faith paid off, as Michael has now been running his successful consumer insights business for 30+ years.


But for Michael, the true reward of entrepreneurship extends far beyond personal success. It’s about the opportunity to share his knowledge and experience with the next generation of business owners – a calling he’s found through his volunteer work with Spark Thomasville.


“When we get to a certain age, we want to give back,” Michael reflects. “I love that people invested in me along the way, and now that I have something to give, I want to share it.”


This spirit of generosity and the desire to pay it forward is what drew Michael to Spark. He first got involved as a presenter during Spark's first intensive 12-week training program for aspiring entrepreneurs, sharing his marketing expertise with the cohort. But it was when he stepped into the role of coach that Michael truly found his stride.


In his coaching journey with Spark, Michael has left an indelible mark on the lives of many entrepreneurs. His first pairing was with Rickela Reynolds, a dynamic go-getter with a passion for filmmaking and a fledgling video production company.


“Rickela was like a sponge, soaking up every bit of advice and guidance I could offer,” Michael recalls. “And she was such a motivated doer – I had a great time coaching her.”


Under Michael’s mentorship, Rickela went on to found her own video production company in Thomasville. But what impressed him most was Rickela’s unwavering determination to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams while serving as a full-time caregiver for her ailing mother. 


“Rickela’s resilience and work ethic blew me away,” Michael shares. “She embodies everything Spark stands for – the belief that with the right support and resources, anyone can turn their spark into a thriving flame.”


Inspired by this experience, Michael continued to lend his expertise to aspiring business owners in subsequent Spark cohorts. In 2023, he took on the role of coaching Lauren Goldbourn and Natasha Jones, the dynamic duo behind Salon Suites on Broad.


With his wealth of experience and passion for nurturing talent, Michael empowered Lauren and Natasha to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship in their pursuit of greater success. He provided guidance on everything from business structure to marketing strategies to financial planning, all while cheering them on every step of the way.


For Michael, these coaching experiences have only deepened his commitment to Spark’s mission of igniting potential through mentorship and community support. He recognizes the transformative power of having someone believe in you and invest in your success – a gift he’s received throughout his own entrepreneurial journey.


“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and support of those who poured into me,” Michael shares. “At a certain point in life, you want to give back. Giving back what you have received helps you find significance."


It’s a sentiment that speaks to the heart of Spark’s mission: igniting potential through the power of mentorship and community support. By investing in underestimated entrepreneurs, Spark is not only empowering individuals to achieve their dreams but also creating a ripple effect of economic growth and opportunity that uplifts the entire Thomasville area.


“The impact of Spark extends far beyond the individual entrepreneurs,” Michael notes. “When you empower one person to start a successful business, you’re creating jobs, stimulating the local economy, and inspiring others to take that leap. It’s a cycle of generosity and empowerment that builds on itself.”


For Michael, being a part of that cycle is both a joy and a responsibility. He encourages other seasoned business owners to consider getting involved with Spark, whether as a coach, mentor, or sponsor.


“If you have experience and wisdom to share, I can’t think of a more rewarding way to give back,” Michael says. “The entrepreneurs at Spark will inspire you with their passion and dedication, and you’ll play a direct role in shaping the future of our community. It’s an opportunity to invest in others, just as others invested in you – and to watch that investment grow in ways you never imagined.”



DeShay Williams

Spark Thomasville

Executive Director


P.S. If you see Mike, give him some thanks for pushing Thomasville to higher levels of greatness!

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