New Places New Faces

At the 6th Annual B.E. Entrepreneurs Conference, black business owners inked groundbreaking deals while networking the night away in Opryland

in the state of Tennessee.” He stressed the growing business diversity in the Volunteer State. “Every kind of business, from automotive to telecommunications, can achieve success and prosper here.”

The Minority Business Development Advisory Committee, the Business Engines Program, and the Minority Supplier Development Initiatives are just a few of the programs that Gov. Sundquist mentioned as resources for the African American business owner.

Additional highlights of the Entrepreneurs Conference included a BE bonus session on wealth building, which informed investors about how to invest money in an uncertain market; the traditional golf outing; and the Kidpreneurs Konference, sponsored by Wendy’s International, a three-day event packed with information for African American youth between the ages of 4 and 18. Meeting topics included the importance of saving and investing and a talk about building Websites. Entrepreneurs Jimmy “Mac” McNeal, president of Bulldog Bikes, and Omar Wasow, director of Blackplanet.com, were just a few of the speakers who shared their experiences and business acumen with the group.

The Town Hall Meeting centered on the “Business of Race.” Panel participants were candid in their remarks, astute in their observations, and well versed in the topic, which examined the obstacles still facing black entrepreneurs when it comes to capital access and the awarding of contracts, and what African American businessmen and women must do to overcome them. Panelists included Earl G. Graves Sr., chairman and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine; Robert Johnson, CEO of BET Holdings II Inc.; Suzanne de Passe, CEO, de Passe Entertainment; Clarence Avant, chairman, Interior Music/Avant Garde Music Publishing; and trial lawyer Willie Gary.

PAVING THE WAY
B.E.’s 2001 Small Business Award winners came from a variety of industries

Business Innovator Of The Year
Manzi Metals Inc.Barbara Manzi, CEO
Being successful at anything is about perseverance. Being a successful black woman in the white male world of metal distribution is perseverance times two, and Barbara Manzi is a testament to this.

Manzi is founder and CEO of Manzi Metals Inc. in Brooksville, Florida, a $4.3 million metal distributor to the aerospace industry and the U.S. Department of Defense, with a roster of accounts that includes Lockheed Martin Corp., Gulf Stream, and Boeing Defense and Space Group.

Manzi is especially proud that, earlier this year, her company earned an ISO 9002 designation. ISO 9002, a federally managed program, guarantees a company’s quality assurance. “It is the certification to aim for, the Mount Everest of the industry,” says Manzi, knowing the designation will mean more business. “Besides attaining the BE Business Innovator of the Year Award, the certification was a huge accomplishment. Now I’m the only black-woman-owned company in the United States that owns and controls its own distribution center with ISO 9002.”

Manzi Metals has been in the same industrial park since its founding, although it has moved three times. The moves were prompted by
the company’s growth, and Manzi adroitly negotiated each lease, always making sure it was favorable to the company.

“My birthday is not on Christmas Day for nothing. I am truly God’s child and have been blessed.”

Emerging Company Of

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