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William G. Mays

The son of two schoolteachers, William G. Mays was born in Evansville, Indiana on December 4th, 1945. Mays graduated from Evansville Lincoln High School in 1963 and then went on to Indiana University in Bloomington, where he majored in Chemistry. In 1970, William Mays was offered a Consortium Fellowship for advanced studies. He accepted the award and applied it to
graduate studies in Marketing and Finance at Indiana University, from which he received an M.B.A. in 1973.

After graduating Mays worked at Cummins Engine Company in Columbus, Indiana, for four years where he served as Assistant to the President. Mays was then offered the opportunity to be President of Specialty Chemicals, a small distribution company in Indianapolis. During his three years as President, he increased the company's sales from $300,000 to over $5 million. William Mays left Specialty Chemicals in 1980 and became an entrepreneur after founding his own business, Mays Chemical Company. Mays Chemical Company, Inc., which specializes in providing chemical products to the food, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, began in 1980 as a one-person operation. Mr. Mays processed and filled each order himself. Over the years, however, the company has grown to include facilities in Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati. Mays Chemical Company has won numerous awards for excellence.

William Mays also owns The Indianapolis Recorder and is the former majority owner of the Hoosier Radio and Television Properties, which include WAV-TV53, HOT 96.3 FM, WGGR 106.7 FM and WIRE. He has significant interests in several other small businesses, including a property management firm, several golf courses and construction companies. In 1995, William Mays
enjoyed, the exceptional honor of carrying the Olympic flame through Indianapolis.

Accession Number

A2000.030

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

7/10/2000

Last Name

Mays

Maker Category
Middle Name

G.

Schools

Lincoln High School

Evansville Central High School

Indiana University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Evansville

HM ID

MAY02

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

Do It Right The First Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Indiana

Birth Date

12/4/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Indianapolis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

12/4/2014

Short Description

Corporate chief executive William G. Mays (1945 - 2014 ) was the founder of Mays Chemical Company, which specialized in providing chemical products to the food, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Mays Chemical Company began as a one man operation but grew to include facilities in Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati. Mays also owned The Indianapolis Recorder and was the former majority owner of the Hoosier Radio and Television Properties.

Employment

Cummins Engine Company

Specialty Chemicals

Mays Chemical Company

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William G. Mays' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William G. Mays lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William G. Mays talks about his family's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William G. Mays describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William G. Mays describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William G. Mays describes his parents' personalities and his likeness to them

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William G. Mays talks about growing up in Evansville, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William G. Mays describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - William G. Mays describes his childhood personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - William G. Mays talks about his brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - William G. Mays describes what influenced him as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - William G. Mays remembers trying to fit in as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - William G. Mays talks about his father's education and love of chemistry

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - William G. Mays describes himself as a student

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - William G. Mays describes the impact of his father's death

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - William G. Mays talks about what inspired him to pursue chemistry

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William G. Mays describes how his father's death made him more disciplined

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William G. Mays talks about pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and reflects upon the significance of Black Greek Letter Organizations pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William G. Mays talks about pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and reflects upon the significance of Black Greek Letter Organizations pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William G. Mays talks about meeting his wife

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William G. Mays describes his successful marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William G. Mays talks about getting married

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William G. Mays describes working as a test chemist

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William G. Mays talks about working for Procter and Gamble

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William G. Mays describes how Procter and Gamble dealt with racism

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - William G. Mays reflects upon the skills he developed as a salesperson for Procter and Gamble

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - William G. Mays talks about leaving Procter and Gamble to attend business school at Indiana University

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - William G. Mays describes attending business school at Indiana University

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - William G. Mays talks about wanting to work for Cummins Engine Company

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - William G. Mays describes the influence of J. Irwin Miller, former President of Cummins Engine Company

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William G. Mays talks about building a network of black professionals at Cummins Engine Company, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William G. Mays talks about building a network of black professionals at Cummins Engine Company, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William G. Mays describes his growth within Cummins Engine Company

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William G. Mays talks about being hired as President of Specialty Chemicals

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William G. Mays talks about developing the skillset to run Specialty Chemicals

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William G. Mays talks about his resignation as President of Specialty Chemicals

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William G. Mays talks about founding Mays Chemical Company

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William G. Mays talks about the growth and success of Mays Chemical Company pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William G. Mays talks about the growth and success of Mays Chemical Company pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William G. Mays describes the support he received in founding Mays Chemical Company

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - William G. Mays describes how his professional network aided the growth of Mays Chemical Company

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William G. Mays talks about Mays Chemical Company's staff during the early 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William G. Mays talks about his entrepreneurial philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William G. Mays describes how a 1983 Wall Street Journal article contributed to the growth of Mays Chemical Company

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William G. Mays talks about Mays Chemical Company's most significant milestones

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William G. Mays talks about the positives and negatives of purchasing other companies in the chemical distribution industry

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William G. Mays talks about the state of minorities in the chemical distribution industry and minority-owned businesses

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William G. Mays talks about Mays Chemical Company's standing in corporate America

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William G. Mays talks about the evolution of black entrepreneurs

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - William G. Mays considers the future of minorities in business

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - William G. Mays talks about DreamMakers and the Black Enterprise 100

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - William G. Mays talks about entrepreneurs he admires

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - William G. Mays talks about the concept of black businesses "selling out"

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - William G. Mays considers institutions, programs, and values that will contribute to a positive future for the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - William G. Mays talks about his investment ventures

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - William G. Mays talks about building trust in the business industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William G. Mays talks about his investments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William G. Mays talks about his philanthropy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William G. Mays describes Mays Chemical Company's commitment to giving everyone a chance

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William G. Mays talks about the importance of minority economic development in America

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William G. Mays describes his business philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William G. Mays describes how his chemistry background contributed to his success

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William G. Mays talks about his father and his future

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - William G. Mays talks about his legacy and the future of black entrepreneurs

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William G. Mays narrates his photographs pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William G. Mays narrates his photographs pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
William G. Mays talks about pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and reflects upon the significance of Black Greek Letter Organizations pt. 2
William G. Mays describes how a 1983 Wall Street Journal article contributed to the growth of Mays Chemical Company
Transcript
I think the, the feeling of belonging is, is very important. And being part of a group, part of an organization, having some place to retreat to from the hostilities. And that's the way I would say it of, of campus life. The fact that so many of the organizations on a campus like Indiana University [Bloomington, Indiana] were white organizations. They had no, no particular interest in black culture or black history or black exposures. The dancing was different, everything was different. So I think that's why you end up leaning toward an organization like that. Now Kappas specifically, my dad had always wanted to, to be--and he felt that was one of the, the--was the best fraternity. And so that certainly was an influence. I think that Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity had a house. It was founded at Indiana University, and that was significant to me. I looked at the people that were in the fraternity and they were more like me, I guess is the way to say it. As a matter of fact, I mean if you look at the--at that time the three of the, the base fraternities, you had the Omegas [Omega Psi Phi Fraternity], and you had Alphas [Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity] and you had Kappas. And the Alphas were more the high strung intellectual types in more ways than one, and the Ques were more of the doggie type, athletic perhaps, and Kappas were kind of in between. They had intellectual capacity, they played sports, but they weren't extremes. And I guess those were the--if you look at Ques and Alphas, they tended to be extreme, at least as far as my exposure at Indiana.$The article came about in 1983 and it was talking about Chemical Investors and this guy, Zengraft, Jerry Zengraft and the shyster nature of what he was dealing with, and this, remember this was before the collapse of, of that company. But again, even the news media was picking up on it. So this reporter was in town from New York to talk about Chemical Investors. But along the way he was fascinated when he talked to me and said well I'd like to come back and do a story on just you. So he wrote an article about growing too fast. And--cause we had grown really quite, quite handedly as I indicated from zero to nine million dollars in that three year period. And so he talked about the dangers of growing. And that was published in the Small Business Section of the Wall Street Journal in August of 1983. John Thompson was working for McKenzie and Company in New York at the time, and saw that article and wrote me. And wanted to, to come to work for, for Mays Chemical. And I said why would--one, I can't afford you. An MBA from Columbia working for McKenzie, the premier consulting, you know, New York City, you know that didn't even, that didn't even make any sense. But he persisted and said yeah, he said well we ought to talk about it he says, because I really want to get to the Midwest, I really wanna get my family out of New York. And Midwest is a place that I--and I know the chemical industry, I've studied it at McKenzie, and I could really do a, an excellent job. So that was probably I guess in November of '83 [1983], and John Thompson came on board in early '84 [1984]. And so he's still with us. So surrounding yourself with, with good people and, and young people, cause I'm one of the older people in the company. I think that there may be, may be as many as ten percent of the company that's 50 or above, certainly 55. So I think that that bodes very well for the, for the company too.