traditional business?’” He would set up meetings with potential customers and be kept waiting for hours. That’s when the meetings weren’t simply canceled at the last minute. “I wasn’t taken seriously in the beginning. In a lot of cases, it was a test,” says Bing. “But I passed it.”
Bing’s banking background proved helpful in getting over this hump. Because of the seven years he spent in the Detroit banking arena, many people he trained with had moved into managerial positions in banks he was now seeking financing from. “These were people who knew me and knew what I was about,” he adds. “So when I went to these people to access some loans, they knew what to expect of me. And having been trained in finance, I knew what they wanted from me.”
One person who has witnessed the company grow from the very beginning is Benny White, currently safety coordinator for The Bing Group. Bing took White under his wing when White was 14 and Bing was 23. They met at a basketball camp. He became one of the first salesmen at Bing Steel, and they’ve been together ever since, Now 43, White says the hurdles were high in those early days.
“Everywhere we went we ran into people that thought Dave was trying to get rich overnight,” White says. “But his consistency of supplying material on a timely basis and always being first class made people realize he was serious about this business and in for the long term.”
White has left the employ of Bing twice, both times to pursue the long-sought goal of coaching a college basketball team. But he has always returned home–to Bing Steel. “It’s the city and the relationship with Dave that brings me back. Dave has more vision that anyone I’ve ever met. He’s always looking five years ahead. Always planning for the next challenge.”
Planning ahead, Bing started his second company, Superb Manufacturing, in 1985. He says the steel service center business didn’t add a lot of value to the product and initially couldn’t make much money. By contrast, Superb handles actual auto manufacturing, where employees take a raw product and produce pressed steel used in functional car parts. “I needed to move up the food chain so I could get a greater return on my investment,” says Bing. And he did. First-year sales for this four-employee metal stamping company were $2.4 million; in 1997, Superb had $41 million in sales and 340 workers.
But that growth didn’t come without hurdling some significant obstacles. In the late ’80s, Bing waded through a recession that hit the auto industry and Detroit particularly hard. “During this period, the American car industry was going through pure hell,” says Bing. One of his main customers at the time, GM, was forced to retrench, leaving manufacturers like Bing to fend for themselves. It was then that Bing says his company came very dose to filing for chapter 11. “When this economy goes into a downturn, it’s unbelievable how quickly you