January 2015

Urban Wheel Awards

The Supplier of the Year award went to John James of James Group International

MVSU Foundation Support

On Saturday, January 31, the Mississippi Valley State University Foundation partnered with Magnolia Automotive Services, Inc. to award $15,000 to four MVSU students in the Engineering Technology Program. Magnolia Automotive Services President, Lorron James and Plant Manager, Andrew Burks presented the scholarship award during the MVSU National Alumni Association general body meeting on campus. The MVSU Foundation-Magnolia Automotive Services Scholarship was awarded to Kendrick Woods, Datreion Eatmon, Tommie Moore, and Geoffrey Dugger-Briggs. Each recipient received $3,750.

Dr. Constance G. Bland, Vice President of Academic Affairs, affirmed, “We are elated that such an opportunity is being facilitated by our Foundation and salute the leaders of Magnolia Automotive Services.  I echo the sentiments of our Engineering Technology students, faculty, and staff in acknowledging how grateful we are for your support.”

Magnolia Automotive Services Wins 2013 MBE Supplier of the Year


Magnolia Automotive Services, LLC (A Joint Venture between James Group International and Toyota Tsusho America) is recognized as Minority Business Enterprise of the Year.


Jackson, January 11, 2014:  Arkansas Mississippi Minority Supplier Development Council held its Annual Corporate Executive Minority Business Awards (CEMBA) Luncheon in Jackson, MS on January 6, 2014, and recognized suppliers and Corporate members who excelled in supplier diversity and excellence in business.

Magnolia Automotive Services, a joint venture between The James Group International and Toyota Tsusho, was recognized as Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) of the year.  This award recognizes a minority owned business that exemplifies outstanding performance in service, delivery or added value to their clients.  They consistently provide high quality products or services and use innovative approaches to overcome obstacles in servicing their clients and growing their business.

“We are so proud to recognize a company that has been a shining example of what this organization stands for.” Mia McNeal, President/CEO, AMMSDC.

The Arkansas Mississippi Minority Supplier Development Council (AMMSDC), a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that identifies minority suppliers; certifies bona fide minority business enterprises (MBE); and facilitates procurement opportunities between Corporate America and Council-certified minority suppliers. Minority Suppliers designation applies to Asian Indian-American, Asian Pacific-American, African-American, Hispanic-American and Native American businesses located throughout Arkansas and Mississippi. AMMSDC’s membership consists of Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies and educational institutions. AMMSDC strives to expand business opportunities for minority-owned suppliers by linking then with procurement professionals in the public and private sector. AMMSDC’s periodic events held throughout the year allow it to foster relationships between corporate decision- makers and targeted minority suppliers.

AMMSDC Certified MBEs employ over 4,000 people in the Arkansas/Mississippi Region and reported over $6 Billion in Aggregate Revenue in 2013.

Meet the Boss: James Group Exec Relishes Key Role in Family Business – Detroit Free Press

Lorron James and his older brother John, both of James Group International, are in line to take the reins ofthe auto supply company when their father, also John, retires as chairman and CEO.

The 30-year-old vice president of business affairs said despite his earlier notions to the contrary, working in a family business is a dream job that will let him continue his father’s legacy — and create his own.

He also said one of the lessons he learned is “to do a little more listening than talking.”

James, who played football at Arizona State University, said that for years he was certain he didn’t want to work at the company his dad founded.

Instead, the younger James said, he wanted to make his own way in another field.

“I’m a big sports nut,” said James. “I wanted to be a part of a sports management program.”

But, even after he took a job working for the Arizona Diamondbacks as the community affairs coordinator, nearly two thousand miles from his hometown of Detroit, folks who knew and worked with his dad in Detroit kept asking him when he was going to come back to the Motor City and follow in his father’s footsteps.

“After the 20th person asked me that question I thought: ‘Maybe this is what I need to do,’ ” he recalled.

James — who said his mother, Sharon, took the ‘ron’ out of her name to come up with the unusual spelling of his name — now lives in Royal Oak and is looking for a home in Detroit. He said that in addition to helping to run a company, he also wants to be a part of shaping the city — and supporting other black business owners.

His father, he said, struggled in the 1960s and ’70s to create what is now a $110-million company. He started by hauling beer, and later auto parts. Gradually, the company grew. It now has ties to Ford, General Motors and Toyota, and ships products to countries all over the world.

James added that in the nearly seven years he has worked at the company, he has learned a lot from his father and other mentors.

One of the most significant lessons, he said, has been to listen.

Early on, he said, he had “all these grand ideas of how to change things.” But, he found when he sat down with others — such as his dad — took time to ask questions, understand their thinking and consider what they told him, he said he got more support for his own way of thinking.

“As long as you can show some humility, more people are willing to help you,” he said.


Transportation and Logistics International | James Group International

For the father and son team who lead James Group International, the term “impossible” is not a part of their everyday vocabulary. John A. James and John E. James don’t talk about “obstacles.” They talk about efficiency, accountability and a work ethic that includes phrases such as “no failure” and “no excuses.”

John A. James, founder and CEO of James Group, and his son John E. James, vice president of operations, share a military background that brings a unique leadership quality to their business. The company’s founder was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal. His eldest son is a West Point graduate who subsequently became a Ranger-qualified aviation officer and led two Apache platoons in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Together with John A. James’ youngest  son, Lorron James, who acts as vice president of business affairs, the family manages a global supply chain business that Crain’s Detroit Business ranked as Michigan’s eighth-largest logistics company with revenue growth of 266.7 percent in 2012. The CEO, however, sets a higher bar. “We aren’t comparing ourselves against other Michigan businesses,” he notes. “Our competitors are international, none of which are in the U.S.”

James Group provides export consolidation, import deconsolidation, sequencing, warehousing and foreign trade assistance. When the company began in 1971, its founder fought an uphill battle against regulations that made it nearly impossible for small transportation companies to enter the job market. The Interstate Commerce Act invoked in the 1800s grandfathered-in large businesses that monopolized the transportation industry. These incumbents regularly protested against the certification of young entrepreneurs, such as John A. James. He waged a battle that lasted 10 years and took him all the way to the Supreme Court.

“You would think I would be wiped out at this point,” John A. James says. “But, we had gained a lot of respect by that time and I had customers who supported me.”

Now, the sons have big shoes to fill. “There is a stark contrast,” John E. James comments.  “When my father started, he was at the age that my brother and I are now.  He was starting his company and going through his battles with the Interstate Commerce Commission, the legislature and Supreme Court. His big win was tearing down barriers to entry, not just for minorities, but for everyone. This is something that everyone around the country benefited from.

“If that could be done by a 30-year-old black man less than a decade after the Civil Rights Movement, then how much more could be done by two 30-year-olds with the advantages that we’ve seen and the doors we’ve had opened, and the shoulders we’ve stood on? How much more can we do? In order to ensure our business success our father’s grooming has given us all of what we needed, some of what we wanted and zero excuse to fail.”

John A. James fought discrimination head-on and ended up leveling the playing field for everyone. As the result, today, James Group International can focus on its mission of becoming a global logistics leader. The company plans to do this by increasing its information capacities and providing more transparency to OEMs, allowing them to monitor and manage their entire supply chain. The James family believes this is important because as it transitions from regional to global clients, such as major car manufacturers, the suppliers are multi-tiered. James Group must be able to provide information to the end-buyer about what is happening at every tier in every part of the world in case there is an issue abroad.

According to John E. James, the company strives to first meet the standard without fail, and then  focus  on continuous improvements in safety, quality, cost, delivery and convenience to the customer. “It’s not about being a minority anymore,” he notes. “You have to be the best supplier first. We are experiencing success; our team is very good at what it does.”

Both men believe in a hands-on approach and caring for the people who work with and for them. “Your people are who win the battles and who make the mission in both the business world and on the battlefield,” John E. James says.


Family of Vets Steady Supply Source for Jobs

Excerpt from The Detroit News article:

Family of vets steady supply source for jobs

John E. James, vice president of operations for the James International Group, stands with Carla Preston, Director of Ford’s Supplier Diversity Development program, at subsidiary Renaissance Global Logistics. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

U.S. Army engineer John A. James returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969 with high entrepreneurial aspirations.

He started a transportation company, OJ Transport — now James Group International — with a single 1967 Ford truck. Four decades later, he is one of the longest-tenured veteran- and minority-owned companies in the automotive supply chain in Detroit.

James, 71, an African-American and CEO of JGI, now works side-by-side with his sons. John E. James, 31, is vice president of operations and an Army vet who served a tour in Iraq. Lorron James, 30, is vice president of business affairs.

JGI, through its subsidiary Renaissance Global Logistics, a global packing and exporting company, employs more than 200 — most of them veterans and minorities. The company has become an example of the many success stories in the supply chain.

“John James is a pioneer,” said Carla Preston, director of Ford’s Supplier Diversity Development program, now in its 35th year. “He is an icon in the industry and in supplier diversity development.”

Ford’s Supplier Diversity Development program started in 1978, a half dozen years after RGL first partnered with Ford.

The family, as of last year, owns the company’s 375,000-square-foot facility at Clark and Fort streets in southwest Detroit, a building previously leased from Ford Motor Co.’s land development branch.

It hasn’t been an easy task for John A. James. Though he started with one truck. he quickly discovered he needed more. He purchased 23 used diesel trucks from Ford’s private fleet in 1978.

John A. James met resistance from the Interstate Commerce Commission, which controlled interstate commerce and licensed only certain companies to transport goods.

James fought the ICC all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the late 1970s to earn entry into the automotive parts transportation field.

He was the first leader of an African-American owned company granted authority to transport auto parts in Michigan, and the first nationally to be granted the authority by the ICC.

Now, the company is firing on all cylinders, working with Ford assembly plants in 14 different countries to ship auto parts.

“We hope we are still there in the fourth, fifth generation of Jameses,” John A. James said.

Michigan Gov. Approves Bridge Permit to Canada

Excerpt from The Detroit News article:

The Obama administration has approved a presidential permit clearing the way for a new $2 billion six-lane bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor — hailed by Michigan and Canada as a way to boost trade and create thousands of jobs.

The State Department, which informed Michigan and Canadian officials of the planned decision late Thursday, formally announced approval on Friday. The lengthy review was in part to ensure that the decision can survive multiple legal challenges of the New International Trade Crossing.

“This is huge,” Gov. Rick Snyder said Friday afternoon in announcing the permit. “It’s more than a bridge to me. It’s about jobs and our future in this state.”

U.S. and Canadian officials hailed the presidential permit as a step toward strengthening trading relations between the two countries.

“It’s a real significant step forward for everybody,” Canada Labor Minister Lisa Raitt said at the announcement.

“We have taken today what is undoubtedly the greatest relationship between two neighbors anywhere in the world and we’ve made it a little better,” said David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada. “And that’s something to be proud of.”

Click here to read the full article here.

View the Press Conference hosted by Renaissance Global Logistics:

Model D Speaker Series: Opportunity to Grow

Growing companies speaker series


Much ado is made about small business startups, but the lion’s share of job growth is actually created by “gazelles” — fast-growing companies that double their size over a four-year period. Where are these businesses in Detroit? What are their secrets? How do we make more of them?

Join us this Wednesday, March 20 for a special evening at The Detroit Mercantile Co. at 3434 Russell Street in Eastern Market to learn more about Detroit’s growing economy. Happy hour begins at 5 p.m.; panel discussion begins at 6 p.m. Featured speakers include:

The discussion will be moderated by Jon Zemke, business reporter for Model DMetromode & Southeast Michigan Startup.

This Speaker Series is presented by the Detroit Regional ChamberHuntington Bank and MSHDA. Seating is limited; please register in advance here.

Original Article from Model D Media

Vetpreneurs – A Black Enterprise Article

In Baghdad, Capt. John E. James led two U.S. Army aviation platoons in combat operations. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, James’ primary duties were those of platoon leader and battle captain/assistant operations officer. Working with another assistant and under a commander, James planned, managed and synchronized the deployment of 24 Apache and 10 Black Hawk helicopters. A graduate of West Point, James has flown nearly 1,200 hours and been awarded several combat medals, but he says his greatest achievement is bringing all his soldiers home alive and physically unharmed in 2009.

When James, 31, was honorably discharged in February, he went to work for his family’s Detroit-based 150-employee business, James Group International (No. 81 on the Be Industrial / Service Companies list with $30.1 million in revenues). The company, which does logistics work for Ford, General Motors, and Toyota, was started by James’ father in 1971. About a year away from completing his master’s in supply chain management from Pennsylvania State University, James has already increased JGI’s efficiency. For instance, he implemented JGI’s enterprise resource planning for information technology, or ERP / IT. system in conjunction with Ford, giving the automaker greater visibility of product in the supply chain.