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Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention.
Black people have always been inventive, creative and industrious. Go on any African street corner today and you’ll find talented entrepreneurs selling, making and distributing their wares. That talent was expanded as Blacks were exported, sold and enslaved to distant shores. This industriousness continued in America where discrimination, slavery and Jim Crow never stomped out the willpower of Black people to create businesses.
Today we’ll examine that Black economic trail and why Elizabeth Keckley, Elijah McCoy and Madame CJ Walker were the forerunners to Wilson Copeland, Beth Williams Pat Bonner DuVal, John Aki DuVal, Ron Walker, Leonard Egerton and Clarrissa Cropper. We salute these entrepreneurs past and present and learn more about the February 11th Black History Breakfast that pays tribute to Black Entrepreneurs everywhere.
Elizabeth (Beth) Williams
President & CEO, Roxbury Technology Corporation
Beth Williams is the President and CEO of Roxbury Technology LLC (RTC), a
Boston based remanufacturer of sustainable and environmentally friendly, imaging supplies, products, services and solutions.
After graduating from Brown University, Beth began her career working as a Production Control Manager in one of her father’s earlier companies, Freedom Electronics. After 3 years of training and guidance from her father, she decided to expand her practical knowledge and experience inside a major corporation. Beth joined Raytheon Company’s Missile Systems division as a sub‐contract administrator and small minority business liaison officer. After 5 years at Raytheon and a desire to move into a more impactful role serving as a conduit for women and minority entrepreneurs and large corporations, she left Raytheon to join Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts procurement team and soon thereafter became the Director of Business Diversity for BCBSMA. Then, upon her father’s sudden death in 2002, Beth left Blue Cross Blue Shield to succeed her father as President and CEO of his 8 year old distribution business, Roxbury Technology Corporation.
Roxbury Technology is a remanufacturer of sustainable printing solutions that are good for the environment, the economy and
the customer’s bottom line. More importantly however, is Beth’s commitment to being a socially responsible entrepreneur. She is driven by her social mission and that is to provide good, wage earning jobs to people who are far too often left out of the system. She is strongly committed to providing second chances to not only her products, but to people as well. She has been a long time supporter of CORI reform and more than 15 percent of her work force are ex-offenders, ex-gang members, etc.. Her belief is that “desperate people do desperate things and we all deserve a second chance and unless given an opportunity to change, we only perpetuate a cycle of dysfunction and ultimately a cost to us all. We either pay them or pay for them”.
Being driven by that philosophy, in her role as President & CEO, Beth served as the catalyst to RTC’s successful
transformation from being solely a distributor of toner cartridges to becoming a manufacturer of toner and ink cartridges, resulting in strong revenue growth and profit portfolios. Today, RTC is a strategic diversity partner of Staples, Inc. and is
their preferred supplier of their DPS brand remanufactured toner and ink imaging supplies.
RTC has a strong base of direct customers as well; most recently being awarded the m/wbe subcontractor and supplier of imaging supplies to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
RTC is a Green company, committed to job creation and environmental sustainability. As Beth describes it, “We are a social, environmental and economically responsible business. We contribute to the economic sustainability of the city of Boston and to the Commonwealth of MA. We provide over 50 good wage earning jobs, with a set percentage of our hiring targeted towards individuals with a CORI. We are a committed to creating remanufactured and recycled products, equal to, if not better than their OEM counterparts, while providing a cost effective solutions to our customers that make a difference while helping their bottom lines.”
Among Beth’s many achievements and awards, some highlights include being awarded one of American Express and WPO 50 fastest growing women business‘s in 2010. In 2011, WBENC’s shining star award; one of the largest and most recognized women business award nationally. The Presidents award from GNEMSDC ; a significant regional minority business award. The Presidents and community leadership award from The Eastern Ma Urban League, and finally the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year for New England.; a prestigious Global business award recognizing her social responsibility.
She serves on several business and community boards, including AIM (associated industry of MA), RCC (Roxbury Community College) and NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship). She has previously served on the boards of Zoo N.E., The Commonwealth Institute, and CWE (The center for women and enterprise)
Yet her greatest pride and accomplishment is her 19 year old son who’s academic and athletic accomplishments far surpass any job, award or recognition she could ever receive.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.