Ep.19 Dr. Bill Pickard: Millionaire Mover & Shaker but mostly a Mentor
William F. Pickard, PhD, is CEO and chairman for multiple enterprises, including VITEC L.L.C., Global Automotive Alliance L.L.C., Grupo Antolin-Wayne, ARD Logistics, L.L.C., and Commonwealth Regal Industries. He is also the owner of several McDonald’s franchises and a co-owner of five black-owned newspapers.
Dr. Pickard is also CEO of Bearwood Management and author of Millionaire Moves: Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship.
LEARNING TO DREAM BIG
Pickard caught his first glimpse of the automotive world in the 1950s when his parents moved the family from Florida to Flint, Michigan, a city built on the car industry. While his parents worked on the assembly line at General Motors, the young Pickard attended school, where he was treated as an outcast for being both new to the neighborhood and African American. He struggled in his schoolwork until an English teacher encouraged him to work to his fullest potential.
Pickard considered this teacher his first mentor and the person who introduced him to the importance of helping others to achieve their best. With his new ambition in place, Pickard pushed ahead to earn an associate’s degree at Flint Mott College in 1962 and a bachelor’s degree at Western Michigan University in 1964. He then earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan.
STARTING A CAREER, HELPING OTHERS
Armed with his training, Pickard began his good works. He started his career in 1965 as the director of education at the Cleveland Urban League and then, in 1967, joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as executive director. In 1969 Pickard returned to school to earn a PhD in psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus. On completing his studies he worked in several professorial positions at various institutions in southeastern Michigan and northern Ohio.
At the same time he started on a new path into the world of entrepreneurship, allowing his business and investment skills to emerge-skills that would be tested through several ventures and eventually lead him to success.
FROM GOOD DEEDS TO GREAT SUCCESS
Soon after a chance meeting with a McDonald’s corporate executive, Pickard began his first business endeavor as the owner of several McDonald’s franchises. He was also investing, not too successfully, in car dealerships around that time. Later, a lunch with Henry Ford II led him from dealerships to the automotive supply industry. Ford told him, “We need black suppliers,”
and Pickard took that to heart (Detroit News , May 21, 2002). Soon he began investing in minority firms that produced automotive parts. This move led to his creating the Global Automotive Alliance (Alliance), one of the country’s leading minority-owned companies.
SHARING THE WEALTH
With the means to help others on a larger scale, Dr. Pickard created a company wide internship program to recruit the next generation of minority employees in plastics
processing. He also serves on the board of the National Urban League, and is a member of the Detroit Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In addition, he continues teaching, is an avid volunteer and donor
to charities and mentors many aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders.
In 2001 the Detroit News honored him as a Michiganian of the Year
for his accomplishments as an entrepreneur
, teacher, and mentor to future leaders.