By DEBORAH WHITE
Jimmy Beard has been advocating for diverse businesses, especially Black contractors, for his entire professional career. From 1977 until 1988, he ran a self-performing roofing and general contracting company. At the beginning of his contracting career 100% of the business was in the Jewish community. The foundation of the business was built on quality work and referrals throughout the Jewish community.
“After over 40 years in the business I have only had 17 Black customers,” Beard said. “My interest in construction began in a woodshop class at Washington High School. Our class would work on projects for homeowners who lived near the school. They bought the materials and our class provided free labor for the construction. After we built the first garage I was hooked, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Under Jimmy’s leadership, JBMI, as it is known, has earned a reputation for advocating for Indianapolis’ minority contracting community, pushing for participation on high-profile projects like Conseco Fieldhouse and Marion County Justice Center.
Jimmy Beard serves as diversity consultant for the AECOM Hunt/Smoot Construction team. Construction is nearing completion on the Adult Detention Center and Sheriff’s Office at the Marion County Justice Center. The project has provided significant contracting opportunities to MBEs that Jimmy has known and worked with previously. Firms like Davis Construction.
“I am writing to attest to the character of Mr. Jimmy Beard, of whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for over twenty-five (25) years” Gary Davis, president, Davis & Associates.
“Jimmy provided considerable guidance on how to best serve contractors helping me be successful” John T. Thompson, president, Thompson Distribution
“It’s a reflection of someone with a lifelong track record of high standards, strong ethics, and great moral character” Janmarie Connor, president, Connor Fine Painting.
“Jimmy was instrumental in helping me establish my role on the project” Olivia France, president, Supreme Staffing Solutions LLC.
“We have known Mr. Beard for more than 12 years and have always found him to be a champion and an advocate of Minority, Women and Veteran owned businesses” Michael Sutton, president, and Kashif Khan, executive vice president, Infrastructure Engineering Incorporated.
“Mr. Beard has been a great asset for my busines as it pertains to creating a stream of success which has put the future sustainability of my company on a new level,” Terry Dove-Pittman, chief strategy officer/procurement liaison, The Gideon Group LLC.
“ J. Beard Management, as an MBE company, was also very helpful in achieving our goal of increasing MBE and WBE participation in projects” Duncan N. P. Pritchett Jr., ED. D education consultant, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools 1997-2005.
“Giving back to his community is very important to Jimmy Beard” Dr. Jacqueline S. Greenwood, former campus administrator, Indianapolis Public Schools.
Jimmy Beard, founder and President of J. Beard Management, is a fiercely determined and unapologetic advocate for minority businesses in Indianapolis. He also applauds the efforts of other like:
City-County Councilor Monroe Gray, Jr.; Robin Winston, principal, Winston/Terrell Group; Dr. Shawn Smith, superintendent, Metropolitan School District Lawrence Township; Reginald McGregor, board president, Metropolitan School Lawrence Township; Dr. Nikki C. Woodson, superintendent, Metropolitan School District Washington Township; William Turner, board vice president, Metropolitan School District Washington Township; Michael G. Browning, chairman of the board, Browning Investments; Gary Davis, president, Davis & Associates; Bob Crowder, vice president of construction, Keystone Construction; Lewis R. Smoot Sr. chairman & CEO, Smoot Construction; and Fahad Beg, Ron Franklin, & Joe Lee, The Office of Minority & Women Business Development.
MBE Advocates, Role Models and Mentors
Passion and pride are on full display as Jimmy talks about MBE participation. “In all of the projects I have been associated with, there has been significant minority participation.” He says that for a project to successfully reach high levels of minority participation, the owner must require MBE participation on the project, and the construction manager must be held accountable for achieving minority participation. Jimmy says the other key ingredient is to have someone on the team who advocates for Black businesses. “The MBE advocate must be independent and empowered, someone who’s not afraid to call out those who are not doing the right thing.”
He sees few MBE advocates these days which is disappointing to him, but not as disappointing he says as hearing new and emerging Black business owners lead with “I’m a Black-owned business,” rather than, “my company does excellent work and provides great products or services.”
“We don’t have to beg; we have value. We perform with excellence. Let’s use our significant buying power as leverage.” Jimmy points to the changing demographics of Indianapolis. He says the city’s growing Black population needs to use its voice to be heard on issues affecting minority businesses.
Jimmy is unapologetically pro-minority business, and credits one of his role models, the late James Dewey Wilson Jr., with instilling in him the importance of Black people supporting Black people. He sets the example by doing business with as many Black businesses as possible.
His doctor is Ernest Asamoah, MD; dentist Dr. Roschelle Major-Banks, DDS; ophthalmologist Bettye Jo Rawls Lloyd, MD; chiropractor Dr. Tenika Henry- Graves; insurance agent Al King, A. I. King Agency; accountant Carl Long, CDL Accounting & Tax Services; attorneys are Alexander Curlin, Curlin & Clay Law, Irwin B. Levin, Cohen & Malad, LLP, Jarrell B. Hammond, Lewis & Wagner, all top-rated Super Lawyers; barber Lee Moore Jr., Cheatham & Moore Barber Shop; car salesman Ervin Scott at Tom Wood Ford; and appliance salesman Warren Williams, Grand Appliance & TV.
It’s one of the earliest business lessons he learned from a neighbor. Samuel Kent Sr. lived next door with his wife and three sons Greg, Sam “Sonny” Kent Jr., and Tony. “Mr. Kent worked second shift at the General Motors plant and during the day, did construction projects. He would take down garages, do home repairs, and work on vehicles in his garage. Me, Sonny, and Tony would work with him, and he paid us. He told us to always keep a pickup truck and some tools, because if you do that, you can always make some money for yourself.”
Mr. Kent was the first in a veritable who’s who of mentors to Jimmy. His list of role models includes public figures, business leaders and major influencers. Men like Smoot Corporation Chairman Lewis R. Smoot Sr., former print and broadcast media executive, the late William G. Mays, the late State Rep. William Crawford, the late State Sen. Glenn Howard, Indianapolis Councilman Monroe Gray, and business executive, MBE activist and political power broker Robin Winston.
While MBEs and community leaders have millions of reasons to praise Jimmy Beard for advancing minority businesses, he says his greatest accomplishments are being the father of two girls that have great moral compasses and for guiding young people to careers in architecture, engineering, and construction. Both are hallmarks of a true champion.