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<Automobile Dealerships and Factories>

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Campbell, Charles
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 2000
Campbell, born in Covington, KY, later moved to Buffalo, NY, where he was the first African American car salesman at Mernan Chevrolet and the first to manage a General Tire store; he later retired from General Mills. He was an Army veteran and served during World War II, obtaining the rank of corporal. After serving in the Army, Campbell returned to New York and earned an industrial relations degree from the University of Buffalo, Millard Fillmore College. He was a founding member of the Delta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at the University of Buffalo. For more see "Charles Campbell," Buffalo News, 03/13/2000, News section, p. 6A.
Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Businesses, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Buffalo, New York

Fryson, Sim E.
Birth Year : 1947
Since 1995, Fryson has been the CEO and president of Sim Fryson Motor Co. Inc., located in Ashland, KY. The company was listed among the Top 100 Black Businesses by Black Enterprise Magazine. Fryson, the second African American to own a Mercedes-Benz dealership, has more than 30 years experience in auto sales. Born in Charleston, WV, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force. He is a graduate of General Motors Institute, the University of Detroit, and West Virginia State University. For more see D. E. Malloy, "Sim Fryson in company of champions," Herald Dispatch (West Virginia), 02/27/05, p. 12G; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1990-2007.
Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Businesses, Migration West, Military & Veterans
Geographic Region: Charleston, West Virginia / Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky

James, Wilbert W, "Wil"
Birth Year : 1956
In July, 2010, Wilbert "Wil" James was named the 7th president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, KY; the plant is Toyota's largest automotive manufacturing plant on this continent. Wil James is also the first African American president of the company. He has been a Toyota employee since 1987 when he became an employee at the Toyota plant in Georgetown. During the next 24 years, Wilbert James advanced within Toyota, having held leadership positions in plants in various locations such as California and Indiana. Wilbert W. James is a native of Norfolk, VA. He earned a mechanical engineering technology degree from Old Dominion University in 1978. His promotion to plant president was said to be part of Toyota's promise" to shift more responsibility to non-Japanese managers by promoting North Americans and Europeans to run factories outside Japan" [source: Jonathan Soble, "Toyota promotes non-Japanese managers in wake of problems," Financial Times, 06/25/2010, p. 13]. Of the 14 manufacturing plants in North America, 12 were run by non-Japanese staff in 2010. For more on Wilbert James' accomplishments, see his biography at the Toyota website. See also "Toyota celebrates 10-millionth vehicle made in Kentucky," Bennington Banner (VT), 05/31/2014, p. N01; and "Toyota plant partners with Kentucky State University," Targeted News Service (USA), 03/22/2014.

 

 

See "Toyota's Wil James Webcast" at Connections with Renee Shaw #940, at the KET website (Kentucky Educational Television)
Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Businesses
Geographic Region: Norfolk, Virginia / Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky

Martin, Cornelius
Birth Year : 1949
Death Year : 2006
Cornelius Martin was born in Greenville, KY. In April 1985, he purchased a Bowling Green Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealership. By 1997 he owned an Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealership, a Dodge/Jeep/Eagle dealership, a Chevrolet/Geo dealership and four Saturn dealerships, totaling seven stores in four states. Today Martin Management is the second-largest African American dealership group in the U.S. and annually sells more than 10,500 new Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hummer, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln-Mercury, Oldsmobile, Saab, and Saturn vehicles at dealerships in Arizona, California, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. The company also sells more than 6,800 used cars each year and runs a Harley-Davidson dealership in Kentucky. Co-Mar Aviation provides aircraft service, hangaring, and fueling. For more see Hayes, C., "Selling into the stratosphere: B. E. auto dealer of the year - Cornelius Martin and his four Saturn dealerships, Martin Automotive Group - 25th Anniversary of the B.E. 100s - Cover Story," Black Enterprise, June 1997; and R. Minor, "A community loss, Martin, Mitchell killed, Leachman injured in accident," Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), 06/03/2006.
Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Businesses
Geographic Region: Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky / Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Mason, Jesse Edward
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 2002
Born in Nicholasville, KY, Mason attended Kentucky State University and was a World War II veteran. He was the first African American licensed to sell used cars in Kentucky, operating his own business for 32 years. In 1965, Mason also organized the first American Little League Baseball Club, the Slugger Dodgers of Jessamine County. That same year, Mason was a leader in the integration of the Jessamine County public schools. In the 1990s, he led the movement to have the newly built middle school named Rosenwald-Dunbar, in honor of the African American high school that had closed following integration. For more see "February is Black History Month," The Jessamine Journal, 02/23/2006, pp. A1 & A8.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Baseball, Businesses, Civic Leaders, Military & Veterans, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky

Robinson, Thomas Harry
Birth Year : 1889
In 1916, [Thomas] Harry Robinson was thought to be the first African American foreman employed at the Ford Automobile Works in Detroit, MI [source: "Mr. Harry Robinson...," The Crisis, February 1917, v.13, no.4, p.192; and "Ford employs a colored foreman," Advocate, 12/22/1916, p.1]. He was in charge of of all stock leaving the factory. Harry Robinson was born November 24, 1889, in Louisville, KY, according to his WWI Draft Registration Card. He was the husband of Aletha Robinson from Ohio. Both Thomas and Aletha Robinson are sometimes listed as white or mulatto in the U.S. Federal Census. In 1940, Thomas Harry Robinson was a widower and lived on Whitewood Street in Detroit [source: U.S. Federal Census].

Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Migration North
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Smith, Robert W.
Birth Year : 1923
Death Year : 1998
Born in Indiana, Robert W. Smith became the first African American to own an automobile dealership in Louisville, KY. In 1971 Smith purchased the Universal Chevrolet dealership and became president of the Bob Smith Chevrolet Company, Inc. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; and Profiles of Contemporary Black Achievers of Kentucky, by J. B. Horton.

  See photo image of Robert W. Smith and additional information at Black History Month: Robert W. Smith, 02/09/2011, courier-journal.com.
Subjects: Automobile Dealerships and Factories
Geographic Region: Indiana / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

 

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