From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Burns, Tommie L., Jr.

(born: 1933  -  died: 2019) 

Tommie L. Burns, Jr. came to Louisville, KY, from Hinds, MS when he was 18 years old, taking a job as a molder at the American Standard plant. While still holding his day job, Burns began cleaning Bacon's department store at night, soon hiring a crew and cleaning all of the Bacon's stores in Shively (a west-end Louisville suburb). Burns eventually quit his day job, incorporating Burns Janitor Service in 1975.

Burns continued to develop other businesses, and by 1992 Burns Enterprises, Inc. had revenues of $17 million. The company consisted of almost 500 employees in six businesses: janitor service, roller rink, chemical and supply, food marts, rigging, and packing, with operations in Kentucky, Maine, New York, Georgia, and Tennessee.

In 1992, Burns was the 69-year-old chairman of T&WA Inc., a company that mounts tires and wheels for automakers. The company, then seven  years old, had about $500 million in revenues. In 2001, T&WA Inc. was selected as the Minority Business of the Year at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Annual Dinner.

Tommie Burns, Jr. was the son of Tommie, Sr. and May Bertha Burns [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. Tommie Burns, Jr. died in Fort Worth, TX.

For more see T. R. Hill, "Sensible Chance Paid Off," Lexington Herald-Leader, 4/3/1994, Business section, p. 3; R. Redding, "Entrepreneur 'Burns' up latest automotive niche. 'Janitor' lands $50 million assembly job at Toyota," (from 6/20/1997 print edition); and Y. Markstaff, "Wheeling Dealing," Courier-Journal, 9/16/2002, Business section, p. 01C. See also the Tommie L. Burns, Jr. obituary at Find A Grave.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Business Journals (formerly )
NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Burns, Tommie L., Jr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 27, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-08-19 18:21:24