30 In Their Thirties

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, John E. James was responsible for planning, managing, and synchronizing the deployment of 24 Apache and 10 Blackhawk helicopters during his second tour of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He says his greatest achievement was bringing back all of the soldiers alive and the aircraft intact. “If you show people the right path and show that you care about them, you’re going to have a much better team and get better results,” says James, who earned a master’s degree in supply chain management at Penn State University. In January, following 12 years in the military, he joined James Group International, a global logistics and supply management firm in Detroit that works primarily in the automotive industry. In addition to upgrading the company’s supply management operations, James has worked to improve internal communications between six separate facilities. “Progress can only be deployed rapidly when a team aggregates its successes and minimizes its mistakes,” he says. —R.J. King

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Michigan companies travel to China to expand export opportunities

Business leaders from 21 Michigan companies are in China this week meeting with prospective partners, distributors and buyers to increase export opportunities from Michigan to China. The trade mission, being led by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is taking place in tandem with Gov. Rick Snyder’s investment mission in China.

“China is an important and viable market for a wide range of products and services,” Snyder said. “This trade mission will open doors for these companies by helping them identify and enter into new relationships there. These Michigan companies, with products ranging from sporting goods and complex automotive components, will have a never-before-seen opportunity to reach new customers in the fastest-growing economy in the world.”

Delegates from the export mission are attending business matchmaking events in Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guiyang, Wuhan, and Chengdu. The matchmaking events include customized appointments with prospective partners, distributors and buyers in each region. The participants will also receive extensive training on exporting and doing business in China.

The mission participants will also join several of the governor’s investment mission events, including the Michigan Investment Attraction Seminar and Reception, the opening of the Michigan Center Office in Shanghai and the 13th Western China International Fair.

State business leaders and economists say the potential growth opportunities for Michigan are enormous:

  • China is Michigan’s third largest export market with exports valued at almost $2.7 billion in 2011.
  • China is also one of Michigan’s fastest-growing export markets. Since 2000, Michigan’s exports to China have increased by 1,170 percent, while Michigan exports to the rest of the world grew by only 44 percent.
  • In 2011, Michigan ranked 12th in U.S. exports to China.
  • Top Michigan exports to China include transportation equipment, chemicals, metal manufacturing and machinery.
  • Currently, Michigan exports almost one-third of the crops grown here, generating $2.3 billion in economic activity. China represents a major market opportunity to increase that significantly further.

The trade mission builds on the Pure Michigan Export Now program, launched by the MEDC last April. Export Now provides an end-to-end IT and logistics solution that allows Michigan companies to sell on China’s e-commerce website, Tmall, as easily as selling on the familiar U.S. e-commerce sites at home. Michigan companies are able to participate in the first-ever mass marketing of Michigan goods to China in a single place through the Pure Michigan department included in the online store.

James Group International – Detroit participated in the Governor’s trade mission.

This is Snyder’s second investment mission to Asia since taking office in 2011. Last September, he led an eight-day trade mission in Asia, where he met with Japanese, Chinese and Korean government officials and major company executives to promote business opportunities in Michigan. Snyder also led a seven-day mission to Italy and Germany earlier this year where he met with senior level executives from a number of automotive and alternative energy companies, as well as government officials.

Community Investment Breakfast

On June 21, 2012, James Group International hosted the Southwest Detroit Community Investment Breakfast, which honors key business leaders of Southwest Detroit that make it a better place to live.

Master of Ceremonies

Huel Perkins, Fox 2 News
SDBA is honored to have Huel Perkins as this year’s Master of Ceremonies. Mr. Perkins has been the face of Fox 2 News and metro Detroit for the past thirteen years. During his time with the station, he has received and Emmy Award and four nominations for Best Anchor. In addition to Mr. Perkins’s professional achievements locally, he has also traveled the country with Nelson Mandela, followed the Pope and covered nearly every major political convention.

Mr. Perkins shares a deep respect for his fellow Detroit residents: “Time after time, I’ve seen us overcome enormous odds. No matter where we live or what we do, there is a sense of community that always seems to bring us together. There is nothing we cannot achieve…  no problem that we can’t solve.”

Huel Perkins not only exposes the crucial stories, but strives to help solve problems alongside the people of Detroit.

Honorary Chair and Guest Speaker

Governor Rick Snyder
Governor Rick Snyder grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan. He holds three degrees from the University of Michigan.

Following a successful career as partner at then-called Cooper & Lybrand, Snyder joined personal computer company Gateway. He was named president and CEO and guided Gateway to Fortune 500 status with more than 10,000 employees. He turned to Michigan in 1997 to co-found Ann Arbor-based venture capital fund Ardesta, whose mission is to be a source of capital to innovators and entrepreneurs and to turn budding ideas into exciting new Michigan companies. Getting Michigan’s economy moving again is the Governor’s pledge. Hes goal is to continue to diversify Michigan’s economy to attract global companies, while providing  a positive climate for existing companies and entrepreneurs to thrive.

In 1999 Snyder was named the first chair of the Michigan Economic Development corporation, where he helped lead the MEDC to one of the nation’s most respected public-private economic development programs. In Washtenaw County, Snyder provided the leadership behind nationally recognized local economic development firm Ann Arbor SPARK.

A political newcomer and self-proclaimed reformer with the moniker, ‘One Tough Nerd’, the Governor has pledged a commonsense approach to efficient and effective government, applying business management principles for creating jobs and reinventing the economy, re-establishing Michigan’s innovative spirit, and restoring the state’s reputation as a place where families and individuals enjoy a high quality of life.

Rick Snyder and Sue Kerr Snyder were married in 1987 and are proud parents of Jeff, Melissa, and Kelsey.

March of Dimes Walk for Babies

We recently participated in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies. They quoted:

“In Michigan, together we will raise approximately $2.9 million, and donations are still coming in. Hines Park had over 2,000 participant and will raise $529,000 to help ensure in the fight that every baby is born healthy. Hines Park is the largest walk in the state for the March of Dimes.”

40 Years and Forward, Celebration of 40 Years in Business


Mr. John A. James, Founder and owner of James Group International, is proud to announce and celebrate his 40th year of being in business in the city of Detroit. The company is located on Detroit’s Riverfront at the corner of Clark and Fort Streets in an empowerment zone. To commemorate this event, the company hosted a private gala at their site on the anniversary date, July 21, 2011.

James Group International was founded in 1971 with one truck that operated only in the Midwest. Over the years, the company has grown and is one of Ford Motor Company’s largest U. S. based international exporters of automotive parts. James Group has also formed alliances with General Motors, Toyota and McKesson Pharmaceutical Corporation.

A crowd of over three hundred guests gathered as Mr. James was honored not only as a successful businessman, but also as a visionary, trailblazer and respected mentor to many who come after him in this industry both locally and nationally. His efforts and accomplishments in the community were applauded by distinguished guests such as Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Dr. Charles Gilchrist Adams of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, State of Michigan Lt. Governor, Brian Calley, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Mr. Edsel Ford II and his son, Henry Ford III, Ford Motor Company, Mr. Bob Socia Vice Pesident, Worldwide Purchasing for General Motors Corporation. Other close business acquaintances, friends and relatives were in attendance.

Ms Rhonda Walker of WDIV served as mistress of ceremony.