Category: Business - Original Written by Damon Autry
Lois Elizabeth Bingham possesses an unabashed belief that one must seek excellence in everything they do, and be willing to make sacrifices along the way. Success for Bingham is defined by the impact one makes in life and by one’s willingness and ability to use their education, skills and talents to make a difference. This is so because of the family dynamic in which she was raised. Bingham’s mother was supportive and always urged young Lois to reach for the top.
Her mother shared virtues of a sound education, showed her by example what hard work and faith can accomplish, and always found time to contribute to her community. Bingham took those lessons to heart. She exhibited such a high educational aptitude that she was double promoted, attended the district’s “application only” magnet schools, and eventually attended the University of Pennsylvania.
In spite of living in a rugged part of Detroit early in life, that environment helped her develop skills that she still utilizes today.
“That environment makes you a survivalist,” she said. “There are not many challenges in the world that would make me feel like I can’t deal with it. Sure, it was a tough neighborhood, but it was one filled with love. Everybody looked out for one another.”
Bingham used the encouragement from her mother and her own intestinal fortitude to help fuel her pursuit of a law career. After earning her degree from Temple University School of Law, she worked as an associate for Butzel Long, one of Michigan’s premier law firms, where she became the first female lawyer in the firm’s corporate, transactional and finance practice groups. She then moved on to R.L. Polk & Co., a world leader in automotive data and marketing solutions. There, Bingham developed her love for international business, overseeing the legal aspects of Polk’s global activities, and became the company’s first ever African American woman vice president.
In 2006 she joined Yazaki North America, Incl. and was promoted in 2010 to serve as its vice president, general counsel and secretary. She was also asked in 2012 to become the chief compliance officer. In these combined roles, she oversees the legal department operations and provision of legal services for Yazaki companies representing more than 40,000 employees in North and Central America, is responsible for corporate governance and compliance, and is a key contributor in enterprise risk management.
Yazaki produces wire harnesses, power distribution and control products, connectors and other components for major automotive manufacturers around the world.
“Some people think the auto industry is boring and that it’s just about manufacturing vehicles,” Bingham said, “but this is a very vibrant industry. In addition to manufacturing, there’s also sophisticated financial transactions, HR issues, legal issues, marketing concepts. There are a lot of different things that are required in order to make this industry work.”
Whatever level of success Bingham attains, there is one person she points to as the reason why.
“My mother is the most impactful person in my life, she said. She’s been my rock, and she’s allowed me to reach the level I’ve reached. I had the best upbringing anybody could ever have.”
Bingham is married and has two sons.
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 14:27
Category: Business - Original Written by Dennis Johnson
Asset allocation is an important investment decision that will impact your investment portfolio. Asset allocation explains over 90 percent of the return and volatility in the return of your investment portfolio. Getting this decision right will set you on the path to achieving your long-term financial objectives.
Asset allocation is defined as the percentage of your portfolio invested in various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, alternative investments, and cash. There are two types of asset allocation decisions. Strategic asset allocation decisions are made for the long-term, in some cases measuring 3-10 years. Tactical asset allocation decisions are short-term in nature, reflecting either a risk or investment opportunity resulting from the recent mispricing of a specific asset or asset class.
The same asset allocation target does not apply to everyone. The asset allocation target may be different due to an individual’s risk tolerance, need for income, or unique circumstances. I serve as the Co-Chair for Comerica’s Investment Policy Committee (IPC) which is responsible for establishing the asset allocation recommendations for clients in Comerica’s Wealth Management division. The IPC provides seven asset allocation recommendations in recognition of the different circumstances that can impact our clients’ ability to take risk in their investment portfolio.
There are different approaches to determining the appropriate asset allocation target for you. Your advisor should be able to take you through the process of making this determination.
Consider these points when determining your asset allocation targets:
1) Make sure the asset allocation target you choose reflects your ability to live with fluctuations in the market value of your investments.
2) Once the asset allocation targets are set, make sure you and your advisor stick to those targets. Rebalancing your investment portfolio periodically back to the appropriate asset allocation target is very important.
3) Once a year, go through the process of determining the appropriate asset allocation target for your investment portfolio. There may have been changes in your personal circumstances that warrant a new asset allocation target. In addition, market conditions can change, which may cause you to revise the current asset allocation target for your investment portfolio.
Work closely with your advisor to determine the asset allocation target that meets your needs. It will be time well spent.
Last Updated on Monday, 29 April 2013 16:36
Category: Men Of Excellence Written by Damon Autry
LEON C. RICHARDSON, ChemicoMays president and CEO.
Leon C. Richardson rose from his chair recently at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History amid cascading applause. He strolled onstage in his finely tailored blue pinstripe suit where he was greeted by General Motors’ Kim Brycz and Tom McMillen. There, the president and CEO of ChemicoMays graciously accepted the automaker’s Supplier of the Year award for the fourth consecutive year.
The award is given to a select few of GM’s more than 18,500 suppliers worldwide. In fact, ChemicoMays was one of only 83 suppliers acknowledged — or less than one-half of one percent of GM’s suppliers.
“We put our focus every day on doing the best job we can for our customers,” Richardson said. “That’s our core mission. So being recognized by GM for our efforts is an honor and a testament to the dedication and hard work of our employees across North America. We’re really humbled by this acknowledgement.”
General Motors recognizes the significance of ChemicoMays’ presence as a premier automotive supplier.
“ChemicoMays played a critical role in GM’s success in 2012 through their outstanding work and commitment to quality,” said Grace Lieblein, GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “We are thrilled to recognize ChemicoMays, who we consider to be a world-class supplier.”
To fully appreciate the breadth of ChemicoMays as a leading chemical management company, one must know how the company came to be. Richardson worked as a salesman during the ’80s for one of the foremost chemical management companies in the country at the time. He ascended to the top of the 18-person sales force, becoming the company’s most successful salesperson. His stellar performance and huge commission checks began garnering the attention of company executives, who surprised him not with words of encouragement and pats on the back, but rather with a condescending message aimed at Richardson’s knack for outperforming his colleagues.
The owner of the company, Richardson recalls, told him that his success was overshadowing the other salespeople. “You’ll never be the president of this company, so don’t even try,” the owner said. “Just concentrate on being a good salesman.”
Company executives soon decided to reconfigure the commission structure as a result of Richardson’s achievements. Any sale over a certain dollar amount, the new company mandate stated, Richardson had to split the commission with the entire sales force. Richardson received 50 percent with the other half divvied between the others. Surprised, angry, yet deeply motivated, he completed a big sale soon thereafter that netted him $50,000 in commission, which he split with the 17 other salespeople. But Richardson took his $25,000, walked away from the company and started his own firm in September of 1989: Chemico Systems, Inc.
The company started as a manufacturer of nonhazardous chemical products for use in the automotive industry, primarily for use in the painting process.
“With the knowledge I had gained, I felt that I was well equipped with everything I needed to start my own company,” he says. Six years later, in a strange and mortifying twist of irony, Richardson’s former employer began experiencing financial troubles and ultimately filed for bankruptcy. Richardson then decided to purchase his former employer from bankruptcy. “So the company that told me I’d never be more than a salesperson, I ended up buying,” he said with a muted sense of pride. And what happened to the former owner of the company? “Oh, he worked for me,” Richardson revealed matter-of-factly.
In an effort to expand his company’s reach, Richardson merged with Mays Chemical in 2006 to create ChemicoMays LLC, the largest African American-owned chemical management company in North America. “Our coming together helped blend Mays’ purchasing, logistics and distribution experience with our research, development and technological know-how,” Richardson said. “It was the best of both worlds.”
ChemicoMays has operations throughout North America, and Richardson, being the hands-on corporate leader he is, travels more than 100,000 miles annually to keep tabs on the growth and development of the business. He realizes, too, that the viability of his company is rooted in the productivity of his workforce. Richardson rarely utters the words “I” or “me” when it comes to his business; rather, it’s “we” and “our.”
It is this corporate mindset, in addition to delivering top-notch products and services, which helps position ChemicoMays as a premier chemical management company.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 May 2013 14:24
Category: Business - Original Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) President George Jackson said that if he were talking to someone from out of town about Detroit’s economic development, he’d do so from the standpoint of Detroit being a good business climate and a great place to locate their company.
“I guarantee that we would be a pleasant surprise to any perceptions you may have had beforehand once you come here,” Jackson said. “I say that because on so many occasions when people finally come to the city it by far surpasses their expectations.”
He attributes that to Detroit’s many recent success stories.
“And even over the years, actually,” he added.
Jackson also noted that this exceeding of expectations isn’t just from a business climate sense, but in general.
“It’s definitely a good place to do business,” he said. “But also the quality of life is much better, more robust than in some cases people anticipate it to be.
“And what I mean by business climate is that we have excellent options in regards to locations, be they industrial, commercial or retail,” he said. “We also have a great deal of business to business opportunities. Because we have so many businesses that are already here, not only do direct consumer opportunities exist, but business to business opportunities are really outstanding in the city of Detroit and in southeastern Michigan.”
Asked what he would consider the most exciting activity going on in Detroit right now, Jackson said it’s the fact that in certain areas of the city, there seems to be a resurgence in the residential market.
“The fact is that we have more people moving into the city in various areas, downtown, Midtown, riverfront, but also in some of the neighborhoods,” Jackson said. “We’re getting a lot more young, college-educated professionals. And also baby boomers who want an urban living experience. So the pent-up demand for urban living has finally hit the city of Detroit, as it has in other cities across the nation.”
When Jackson spoke to the Chronicle in 2011, he said things were progressing well in terms of bringing in “big box” stores. He still believes that is the case.
“We have two big box stores,” he said. “One is under construction and the other is about to be built. Those are the Meijer at Eight Mile and Woodward and we have a Meijer in northwest Detroit on the former site of Redford High School. I would say that’s progress. Both of those stores will employ hundreds of people and also bring much needed shopping options that are now national and regional to Detroiters, without them having to drive to a suburb to enjoy that level of retail.”
Jackson added that Detroit also has Whole Foods, which he said many people had stated would never come to the city.
Since 2002, when he started at his job, the two things he’s heard people say they wanted the most have been more national retail options; and that Whole Foods was at the top of most people’s lists.
During the 2011 interview Jackson also said that when he’d visit Whole Foods stores in other cities in the metro area, most customers were from Detroit.
“Detroiters are spending hundreds of millions of dollars outside the city of Detroit for groceries,” he said.
“That’s not a put-down of the stores that we have here, but it just shows that there is a demand for national retailers by city residents.”
He added that the national retailers could definitely complement the independent retailers.
The DEGC is involved in various “development districts.”
Jackson said if he were speaking to an out-of-towner about Detroit, he’d emphasize whichever district would relate most to what that person might be looking for.
“We can accommodate all,” he said. “As I said before, whether it’s retail, whether it’s commercial, whether it’s industrial, whether it’s downtown or they want to be in a neighborhood. We have all those options available, and I think that we also have some very good demographic information to back up where we would end up taking them.”
The development districts in which DEGC is involved include Capitol Park, which involves the redevelopment of the Capitol Park Building, the former United Way Headquarters and the Farwell Building, all located on Griswold. The expected investment is $41 million, and the DEGC’s 2012 progress report describes the district as a prime location for residences, offices and retail stores.
Another district, the Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District, held the three-day inaugural Detroit Paradise Valley Music Festival last year, with more than 15,000 people attending each day.
The Gateway Marketplace, at the southeast corner of Eight Mile Road and Woodward, will not only feature the 197,000 square foot Meijer as its anchor tenant, but will also generate an expected $10.75 million in taxes from the property’s increased value.
As head of the DEGC, Jackson has a lot on his plate, but one thing that doesn’t concern him is the presence of the emergency financial manager.
“We mainly work with business people and the business climate is good,” he said.
“And they feel that the political climate and the governmental process will eventually be resolved.”
He added that he’s not seen a slowdown from a business standpoint.
“Business is good, it’s really on an upswing,” he pointed out.
According to Jackson, one misconception people have about the DEGC is that it only does “the big stuff.” He wants people to know that most DEGC loans go to small businesses.
“By far,” he said. “And we call on 250 to 300 existing Detroit businesses every year. Not them calling us first. We go after them, and most of those, by far, are small businesses.”
Jackson emphasized that, in totality, small businesses are going to create more jobs than large ones.
“We want to make sure we grow the small business community but also retain them in the city of Detroit,” he said.
“So we make what we call these retention calls on between 250 to 300 businesses per year in the city of Detroit.”
Jackson said the one overall thing he wants people to understand abut the DEGC and its role is that it’s not a political organization.
“We’re a business organization that makes business decisions to grow the economy of the city of Detroit,” he said.
Other developments in Detroit include those headed up by Midtown Detroit, Inc., which is led by Susan Mosey.
Midtown developments include the Midtown Greenway, currently under construction.
This non-motorized pedestrian and bike trail will be part of a 10 mile greenway connecting the New Center to downtown.
According to the Midtown Detroit website, the greenway will, among other things, reclaim right-of-way for pedestrians, create an environment to help build a strong sense of community and help the community reintroduce needed green space.
Other Midtown Detroit projects have included new commercial tenants on the Wayne State campus and the renovation of a historic home at 295 E. Ferry into nine one-bedroom rental units.
Other developments are being heralded by Dan Gilbert, whose Bedrock Real Estate Services is working on developing the Central Business District. These include the Z Site on Library Street, with 33,000 square feet of street-level retail and office space, and The Shops at Woodward Center, located between Grand Circus and Capitol parks, and more than a dozen more.
In all, Gilbert has invested nearly $1 billion in the purchase of approximately three million square feet of real estate.
Gilbert, Jackson and Mosey will all be speaking at the Pancakes & Politics forum at the DAC April 25.
For more information about the DEGC, call (313) 963-2940.
To learn more about Midtown Detroit, Inc. visit www.midtowndetroitinc.org
Bedrock Real Estate Services can be reached at (888) 300-9833.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 00:17
Category: Business - Original Written by Robin Kinnie
From left to right Christian Dorsey (partner) and Jason Johnson, Owner
Bob’s Classic Kicks, located in Midtown Detroit, has been an intended destiny for owner Jason Johnson. From the beginning, Johnson has always bought sneakers. As a young boy, his mother knew that a trip to the mall would end with her buying him a new pair of shoes. By his early twenties, Johnson had accumulated enough gym shoes to open a store, so that became his goal.
It seemed as if help had an eye out for Johnson; a chance meeting with an investor and a business consultant while working as a valet for Henry Ford Hospital, led him to writing a business plan and selecting a location. Although painted over now, he wrote his name on the building where he wanted to house his business. Call it divine providence. He simply says, “The Lord has shown me favor and continues to show me favor.” With no financing in sight, he turned to his father for as his first investor.
Armed with a vision, Johnson created Bob’s Classic Kicks. He wanted the name of the store to be timeless and faceless. He wanted a name that would cater to everyone regardless of ethnicity. “Bob” is not trendy or restrictive, much like the business itself.
Upon receiving his first bank loan, Johnson was persistent in his pursuit of big name contracts, including Nike, Adidas, Reebok and others. After the business was up and running, he found the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED) online and received a loan for working capital. CEED is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower women and minorities economically through business development training, supplier certification, business-to-business networking and accessible capital assistance programs.
Johnson took advantage of the technical assistance that CEED provides. He says, “Anything that I asked of CEED, they helped in some way.” To reach more customers, Johnson turned to social media. You can “like” Bob’s Classic Kicks on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter or simply stop by in during one of their many in-store events. Also, the retailer takes on community projects.
Recently, Bob’s Classic Kicks partnered with Detroit Public Schools and agreed to give a pair of sneakers to all public high school students who attended school on Count Day. Johnson explains that the intent wasn’t to bribe the children, but encourage them. Schools are awarded funding by the state based on the number of students who attended, specifically on Count Day. Johnson understands that the more money schools get from the state, the better the school system becomes. The proud graduate of Martin Luther King Jr. High School is committed to doing his part to make Detroit a better place. While free sneakers may not fix the school system’s shortcomings, Johnson is using his gift and passion to be a part of the solution.
Johnson is not done pursing destiny, stating that Bob’s is “a work in progress.” He may expand the product line or expand the territory. Either way, Jason Johnson and Bob’s Classic Kicks are on the move.
For more information and to check out the new inventory and upcoming events, follow Bob’s Classic Kicks on Twitter @BCK_Detroit or visit their website: bobsclassickicks.com
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 13:27
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!