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it’s 1:15 in the afternoon. Riding in the back of a Detroit taxi presumably on its way to Bing Manufacturing, you are late and more than a little annoyed. You had a 1 p.m. meeting to interview company CEO David Bing. The only problem is your taxi driver has been circling aimlessly for the last 20 minutes. Ever get that sinking feeling you’re hopelessly lost?
“You’re sure about that address, right?” a voice queries from the front. “That sounds like it could be in Highland Park.” A grunt from the back seat, “The address is right.”
Precious minutes tick by. Just as you’re about to hop out of the cab and hunt for the destination on foot, salvation appears in the form of a large red and white banner several feet away. “Wait, right there. See the Bing sign. Stop the cab!”
Slowing down as he eyes the sign, the taxi driver comes to a stop. Then he turns back to give you a good long look. “You mean you’re going to see Dave Bing? You should have said that in the first place. He’s pretty well known in this town. Used to play basketball. Hear he knows a thing or two about business now.”
Yes, as a matter of fact, he does. In the two decades since Bing retired from the National Basketball Association, he has masterfully played against the stereotype of superjock who tries and fails when attempting to cross over to the business arena. Just the opposite-Bing has become such a well-known and respected force in Detroit over the last three decades that there was a serious push to get the man to run for mayor several years ago-spearheaded by none other than the outgoing mayor, Coleman Young.
Over the course of 30 years, the 54-year-old Bing has become as much a part of Motown’s landscape as the city’s monumental Renaissance Center. A member of the board of directors of the Detroit Renaissance Committee, Economic Club of Detroit and Michigan Minority Development Council, Bing has not only witnessed Detroit’s gradual rise from the ashes, but also been an integral part of its rebirth.
But most important, Bing has led by example. The Bing Group, which now encompasses five companies–Bing Steel, Superb Manufacturing, Bing Manufacturing, Detroit Automotive Interiors and Trim Tech L.L.C.–has been a primary supplier of products and services to the “Big Three” automakers–GM, Ford and Chrysler–for decades. With over 700 employees, 87% of which are minorities, The Bing Group is one of the largest employers on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100. Over the last five years, Bing has more than doubled revenues from $78 million in 1992 to $183 million in 1997. And in a city in need of leadership, Bing has been lauded as businessman, civic leader and philanthropist. For these reasons, The Bing Group has been selected as the 1998 BLACK ENTERPRISE Company of the Year.
MOTOWN’S MAN OF STEEL
Much has been made of the “Detroit Renaissance” over the last several years. With an up-and-coming downtown business district and burgeoning opportunities