From Jim Crow to CEO Hardcover Special Edition
From Jim Crow to CEO Hardcover Special Edition
Special hardcover edition of From Jim Crow to CEO: The Willie E. Artis Story. Includes color photos.
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“Most stories out of Flint are not for the faint of heart. It’s a once-great city that has been whipsawed by global economic trends, political malfeasance, and de-industrialization. Yet the underlying spirit of the city somehow endures, and that spirit is captured in the story of Willie Artis. On one level, it’s an in-depth portrait of an entrepreneur. But to call this a business book would be selling it short. It’s really the story of someone succeeding at life in a place all too often defined by failure.”
—Gordon Young, author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City
“I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Willie in the early 1980s when I and others participated in the automotive industry’s supply base. Willie was extremely supportive and outspoken relative to these specialized programs from which we all received significant benefits. Willie was well respected by management and willingly shared his expertise with other minority suppliers. We should all be thankful for his commitment, dedication, and support!”
—Dave Bing, Bing Youth Institute and former Mayor of Detroit
“When you read Willie E. Artis’s story of how he persevered through Jim Crow’s school of very hard knocks in the South to become founder and CEO of a successful manufacturing business in Michigan, you will be astounded by the number of rungs he climbed despite all of the weight on his shoulders from racism and discrimination. The way Willie kept moving will keep you turning the page to find out what’s next. In this fascinating first-person account of his life, you will come to know his friends, family and co-workers like they are your own—except Willie’s includes B.B. King and President Obama. This is a remarkable memoir covering a chapter in American history of which too few people pay any attention. The era of segregation, as Willie reminds us, may return if our past is forgotten. With a touch of southern charm, Beale Street hustle, Chicago smarts, and Vehicle City muscle, Willie’s account of how he lived up to his own high standards, learned from his mistakes, based his decisions on merit, and changed his corner of corporate America and his local community, offers numerous lessons for today’s entrepreneurs, business managers, civic leaders and anyone aspiring to a good life and a better world.”
—Dayne Walling, Former Mayor of Flint and Rhodes Scholar
“It is rare in life to meet a person of strong character who stays true to his word while surmounting obstacles that are only accomplished by tremendous fortitude, talent and strength. Willie E. Artis is the epitome of that man of character who worked tirelessly through the years to build a successful business while facing a multitude of odds.
One can only imagine what he must have felt and experienced, as he faced the trials of being a young visionary and a person of color with an entrepreneurial spirit. As a tenacious businessman, Willie has lived through the hard days and transformed what was thought to be a non-traditional business with a non-traditional leader at the helm, into a textbook testimony. He comes out on the other side as a true success. Today, he shares his journey as he leaves a rich legacy for all to marvel and enjoy.”
--Lennetta Bradley Coney, President, Foundation for Mott Community College
“Willie Artis and I have been friends for over 30 years and I have always admired his business success. I am proud that his achievements have been recognized nationally and locally. Although Willie has retired, the company continues to grow as a multimillion-dollar enterprise. His story is a must-read.”
Harcourt G. Harris, M.D., former Chairman, Omnicare Health Plan
“Willie’s story is one of perseverance and vision. The lessons of his ability to succeed in business are a great read and certainly helped me to be the businesswoman I am today. Entrepreneurs young and old will find Willie’s experiences to be thought provoking and perhaps a spark to a new idea of their own. I hope that all readers get to know Willie as well as I do and find his story to be as inspirational as he is in real life.”
—Jane Worthing, President and CEO, The Genesee Group, Inc.
“Willie E. Artis is a personification of the American Dream. I have known Willie for over 40 years when he started the Company, Industrial Packaging, Inc. He had a vision, unbounded energy, terrific talent, a lack of fear and almost no money. He was determined to succeed and, against all odds, he did so, overcoming recession and a number of significant challenges. Willie was always the leader, encouraging and inspiring his employees and making sure that they and their families were well taken care of. He was determined that Industrial Packaging would be a minority company in more than just ownership and he has recruited, trained, and empowered a majority of minority workers from the very beginning. Willie E. Artis, for all of his success, is still a warm and loving man who has friends in every walk of life, of every color and every strata. The benefits of his creation continue for others, bettering and empowering their lives. I have always been proud to say that Willie is my friend.”
—Bernard L. McAra, BA, JD, Master in Taxation
“The Willie E. Artis personal story allows us to focus on his experience from the inside. It shows his factual and human path to becoming a successful businessman. He uses his powerful story to illustrate how to be competitive in a tough business environment. Best of all, he shows us how he comes through to the other side, a healthy, stronger person.”
—Veronica Artis, Wife and Business Partner
“It is honest! Business memoirs celebrate success, and Willie’s story is full of exceptional success. But this story also celebrates the mistakes as terrific opportunities to learn! Willie’s story is that of a gentleman, with the grit and the fire in the belly that it takes to succeed in a tough, challenging, racist business world, who does it with integrity, true to one’s values. Willie obviously takes joy in the accomplishments of others. His life lessons, as retold in this memoir, present that beacon of hope that young people and those who come from disadvantaged beginnings need to look to as the example of how to accomplish their dreams. Willie’s story removes all the excuses we use for not pressing ahead. Willie’s focus was never on fixing the blame but total focus on fixing the problems. I found his retelling of growing up under Jim Crow to be a valuable window into a past that we must continually work to never repeat. I have known Willie for decades as a start-up entrepreneur, as a successful business owner, as a community leader in Flint, as a friend and, most importantly, as a gentleman. With Willie, values and integrity rule and his life story illustrates the power of this foundation.”
—Linda S. Holloway, former regional CPA firm President, hospital system VP and Flint community leader