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.