BELLEVILLE, Mich. – August is National Black Business Month, which aims to put a spotlight on how Black-owned businesses contribute to our economy and our country.
Archer Corporate Services in Belleville were already a supplier to General Motors, but early in the pandemic, the automaker called up and requested their help in manufacturing ventilators. The company cleared out their lobby and went to work seven-days-a-week.
At the time, GM knew as much about building ventilators as the companies it leaned on to make it happen. Dennis Archer Jr. said everyone chipped in to calculate how to make it happen.
“This was work that no one had done before,” Archer said. “At the height of the pandemic last year, I think we all wanted to figure out how how do I do my part in stemming the tide of COVID-19?”
“We thought ‘Eureka!’ We’ve landed on something where we can have an impact,” recalled partner Mike Carr.
Archer Corporate Services’ business is called fulfillment -- shipping large company marketing materials, medical device samples and GM dealer communications where needed. Fortunately, since they already had federal licenses for medical equipment, they could get to work quickly.
“We were taking tubes apart, putting them back together, sanitizing the tubes, spraying, making sure any air was off, sealing them back in plastic and then boxing them and sending them,” Archer said.
The parts were sent to GM’s facility in Kokomo, Indiana for final assembly. They made more than 40,000 ventilators.
“Folks were impassioned about this work. We worked long hours, we came in on weekends and we would leave on Sunday and get a call that we all have to come back on Sunday,” Archer said. “That went on for months.”
“We try to employ as many Black people as we can and clearly diversity is large at our company, given who Dennis and I are,” Carr said. “If you look at our workforce, 80% of our workforce is diverse and so we want to continue that.”
“Mike and I always say that we don’t go around waving the African flag, so to speak,” Archer said. “We really lead with the quality of our service and our experience.”
Archer Corporate Services’ performance was so good that GM awarded the the team its Supplier of the Year and Overdrive Award.
“There is no better team building exercise than sitting out on a production line for hours with the people you work with every day,” Archer said. “Normally, you’re at your desk on a computer talking to a client, so from a morale standpoint for ACS it was fabulous.”
The company said the lessons learned have stuck with them and that Archer Corporate Services will take the experiences and expand.
Another thing Archer Corporate Services’ leadership said they’re proud of is encouraging and helping employees who leave the company to start their own Black-owned businesses.
More information on Archer Corporate Services can be found on its official website here.