F. Kennedy. In the process, he built a thriving enterprise of his own.
On the original BE 100S, Earl G. Graves Ltd. grossed $1.7 million, revenues generated solely by this publication. Today, the concern has sales of $55.5 million and has expanded into such arenas as interactive media, entrepreneurial and professional conferences, and private equity investing.
His agenda for the future: wealth building. As part of the magazine’s 30th Anniversary, the 67-year-old CEO created The Black Wealth Initiative, a financial literacy program featuring the BE Declaration of Financial Empowerment, a document promoting 10 principles to help readers master money management. “I can think of nothing that is more important for our magazine to focus on going forward,” says Graves. “By leading the charge as African Americans save and invest for themselves and their family, we can bridge the wealth gap and carve a path for future generations.”
He has ample help realizing that vision. The company has always been a family affair. In the beginning, he was assisted by Barbara Graves, his wife of 42 years, who served in various positions within the organization. Today, day-to-day management is handled by his sons, Earl “Butch” Jr., 40, president and COO of BE; John, 39, the head of Black Enterprise Unlimited; and Michael, 35, who oversees business interests outside of the publishing venture. “Including my sons, we have a number of capable managers who will help us expand in the future,” he says. “Our best history is in front of us.”