From a humble upbringing in North Carolina, Billy Vickers has risen through the corporate ladder to become one of the most successful black business owners in the United States. His journey to the top started from his grandfather’s cotton farm where he developed his work ethics.
Vickers purchased Modular Assembly Innovations (MAI) in 2011 after acquiring the stake of TAG Holdings in Great Lakes Assemblies, Gulf Shore Assemblies, and Indiana Assemblies as majority owner and Midwest Express Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda, as a partner.
Located in Dublin, Ohio, the company produces automobile center console modules, powertrain accessory modules, tire and wheel assemblies, chassis components and engine components for Honda. In 2019, the company made $1.2 billion, making it one of the largest black-owned companies in the US. It was also ranked fifth in the list of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses for that same year.
In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Vickers explained that “In 2005, we had one facility with 52 people, and in terms of revenue, we were doing about $150 million a year. In 2010, when I bought the companies, we had three facilities and roughly about 386 associates.”
“We had about $500 million in sales. By 2013, we had grown to three facilities and revenue of $1.2 billion a year,” he said.
Vickers started his career as a management trainee at Corning Electronics in Raleigh, North Carolina. He then worked at a steel mill in Ironton, Ohio, where he later became plant superintendent in charge of manufacturing operations, quality, and new product launches.
He later became the general manager of the largest minority-owned foundry at the time, making parts for automobile giants such as Chrysler and General Motors.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It introduced me to more of the automotive industry and I got the opportunity to run the plant and be the top guy,” he told Columbus CEO.
Vickers attended North Carolina State University on a sports scholarship and graduated with a science degree majoring in Animal Science. His dream was to play in the National Football League but due to a recurring knee injury, he quit football. He was the first in his family to attend college.