Magazine article Black Enterprise

Class of CEOs: Meet Six Newcomers to the B.E. 100s Who Are at the Top of Their Game

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Class of CEOs: Meet Six Newcomers to the B.E. 100s Who Are at the Top of Their Game

Article excerpt

THEY OVERSEE MORE THAN $550 MILLION IN COMBINED revenues and employ more than 1,000 people at some of the nation's most vibrant and fastest-growing black-owned companies. They are the executives who make up the Freshman Class of BE 100s CEOs. Their individual achievements rank them as the top execs who appear on the list for the first time--some at the head of freshly minted BE 100s companies and others taking the lead of BE 100s companies with longstanding legacies.

These bold, innovative, and brash commanders run their companies with a panoramic view and are unafraid to take risks in an ever-changing business climate. Entering the elite domain of the BE 100s this year, they have displayed their valor by rising to the top tier of black business.

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POWERLINK FACILITIES MANAGEMENT SERVICES

PRESIDENT AND CEO: Link Howard III

Link Howard III is leading the rapidly growing Detroit-based Powerlink Facilities Management Services, which provides maintenance, housekeeping, janitorial, landscaping, snow removal, and other building services. After years assembling a clientele that includes healthcare systems, schools, and utility companies, Howard's efforts appear to be paying off. Powerlink debuted at No. 97 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/ SERVICE COMPANIES list with revenues of $21.7 million in 2011, up from $11 million in 2010. The company has nearly doubled its workforce to about 600 employees, up from 350 in 2007.

Taking his experience in the federal service and private sector as a sales and marketing executive for an auto supplier, Howard originally started Powerlink in 2002 as a staffing firm supporting the automotive industry. Sensing that a downturn in that business was on the horizon, he diversified his firm in 2003 into Powerlink Facilities Management Services by shifting its efforts to provide facilities management services to clients in various industries.

Powerlink provides services throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada, and on average manages about 1 million square feet per client. "We're able to manage over large distances and large buildings," says the 62-year-old Howard. Powerlink recently landed a partnership with Sodexo Education to supply building engineering services for more than 120 Detroit Public Schools. The five-year contract will generate $47 million in business from DPS and is Powerlink's biggest deal to date.

Howard says that growth plans include attracting new customers, adding new business accounts, and acquiring other companies that complement Powerlink's portfolio. The company will continue to thrive because it is continuously examining and refining its processes and remains open to change, says Lena Rodriguez, chief marketing and development officer for the Urban Entrepreneurship Partnership Inc., a program of the Kauffman Foundation. Powerlink completed a rigorous assessment process and was accepted as a UEP Recommended Supplier in early 2010.

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CITIZENS BANCSHARES CORP.

PRESIDENT AND CEO: Cynthia N. Day

After being groomed to assume the helm, Cynthia Day is ready to navigate Citizens Bancshares Corp. into the future. Day was named president and CEO of the Atlanta-based bank holding company and its main subsidiary, Citizens Trust Bank, in February. With assets of $397.2 million in 2011, Citizens Trust ranks No. 6 among banks on the BE BANKS list.

Day, 47, became the bank's skipper after the death of James E. Young, the bank's president and CEO since 1998. Day started working with Young to succeed him in 2005 when she became executive vice president of management services. Under Young's guidance, she worked on all aspects of the bank including new product development and an acquisition strategy.

Citizens Trust has 11 branches throughout metro Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia, as well as Birmingham and Eutaw, Alabama. The bank employs 107 workers and serves some 6,000 consumer and commercial customers. …

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