Aquarius Press/Willow Books/AUXmedia

From Jim Crow to CEO: The Willie E. Artis Story pre-order

Memoir by Flint multimillionaire industrialist Willie E. Artis. Artis rose from humble beginnings in the Jim Crow South to forge a 40-year career in American industry, becoming a sought-after partner for major corporations and the Obama Administration.

“Most stories out of Flint are not for the faint of heart. It’s a once-great city that has been whipsawed by global economic trends, political malfeasance, and de-industrialization. Yet the underlying spirit of the city somehow endures, and that spirit is captured in the story of Willie Artis. On one level, it’s an in-depth portrait of an entrepreneur. But to call this a business book would be selling it short. It’s really the story of someone succeeding at life in a place all too often defined by failure.” 

Gordon Young, author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

“I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet Willie in the early 1980­­s when I and others participated in the automotive industry’s supply base. Willie was extremely supportive and outspoken relative to these specialized programs from which we all received significant benefits. Willie was well respected by management and willingly shared his expertise with other minority suppliers. We should all be thankful for his commitment, dedication, and support!”

Dave Bing, Bing Youth Institute and former Mayor of Detroit

“When you read Willie E. Artis’s story of how he persevered through Jim Crow’s school of very hard knocks in the South to become founder and CEO of a successful manufacturing business in Michigan, you will be astounded by the number of rungs he climbed despite all of the weight on his shoulders from racism and discrimination. The way Willie kept moving will keep you turning the page to find out what’s next. In this fascinating first-person account of his life, you will come to know his friends, family and co-workers like they are your own—except Willie’s includes B.B. King and President Obama. This is a remarkable memoir covering a chapter in American history of which too few people pay any attention. The era of segregation, as Willie reminds us, may return if our past is forgotten. With a touch of southern charm, Beale Street hustle, Chicago smarts, and Vehicle City muscle, Willie’s account of how he lived up to his own high standards, learned from his mistakes, based his decisions on merit, and changed his corner of corporate America and his local community, offers numerous lessons for today’s entrepreneurs, business managers, civic leaders and anyone aspiring to a good life and a better world.”

Dayne Walling, Former Mayor of Flint and Rhodes Scholar