Jireh Metal Products CEO Michael Davenport on Why ELEVATE is a Transformative Program
For 25 years, Jireh Metal Products has been producing progressive metal stampings, fabrications and assemblies. But they aren’t about the product, they’re about the people. One of their core values is to foster an inclusive and diverse environment for both their employees and their clients. They are proud to be a minority-owned business, headed up by their President & CEO Michael Davenport. In 2017, Michael was looking to find new ways to grow the organization and expand his personal knowledge base, and that’s when he stumbled upon the ELEVATE Minority Business program here at the Chamber.
ELEVATE Minority Business aims to build increased capacity among second stage, growth-minded minority businesses by removing obstacles for equitable inclusion and creating a solid foundation of social capital. The program brings in subject-matter experts to work with the cohort to give them the tools they need to take their business to the next level.
We sat down with Michael and asked him all about his experience with ELEVATE, and how the program has impacted him personally as well as Jireh Metal Products as a business.
Q&A with Michael Davenport
What made you want to participate in the ELEVATE program?
I thought it was a great way to expand my knowledge base. As a business owner, you should take any opportunity you can to learn and grow. There were some very accomplished people who were providing their expertise in the program, and the opportunity to learn from them was something I couldn’t pass up.
How has your experience with ELEVATE impacted your business?
ELEVATE was structured to focus on the core things we would look at as a business owner – everything from HR, negotiation, acquisition, and even your day to day interactions with clients. I think one of the biggest impacts of the program was the bond created between me and my fellow participants. Hearing them articulate their challenges as business owners really resonated with me. It was great to leave the program knowing I had a solid group of local business owners I could call up any time I needed an outside opinion on an issue.
Would you recommend ELEVATE to other minority business owners?
Absolutely. This program can be transformative to any business owner, regardless of their industry or where their business is at in terms of growth. The fact that this program is targeted toward minority groups especially is great. It is such a large portion of the West Michigan business community that is often underserved yet contributes so much to our economy. It’s so important that we continue to build their businesses up, so our economy can thrive.
What is a key lesson you took away from your participation in the program?
It’s hard to pick one key lesson, because I feel I got so much out of the program. Each session covered a different topic – I know I completely failed the negotiation session. *laughs* I never fancied myself to be a great negotiator, but I definitely took a lot away from that particular session. Looking at what I got from the program, it was a big picture thing. As a business owner, you know in your mind where you want your business to go, and what goals you have for the future. What ELEVATE allowed me to do is fine tune those goals into something specific and tangible.
Are there any goals that you now have for your business because of your experience in ELEVATE?
ELEVATE wasn’t so much about finding goals for your business, it focused on giving you the tools you need to achieve the goals you already had. It’s about taking your vision and giving it clarity and direction. The goals we have at Jireh Metal Products are simple: We want to grow and make a difference for our employees, our customers, and our company.
Are you interested in applying for ELEVATE? Applications for the next cohort of the program are being accepted now through the end of 2018.