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.