Powerful Partnerships: Black Business Enterprises

Diversity is at the core of MillerKnoll’s work to create a better, more equitable, world. This value is equally as important within our company as it is with our partners. With help from the MillerKnoll Global Supply Management and Supplier Diversity teams, we have the opportunity to work with partners who not only hold the same value, but act on it. We spoke with the Presidents and CEOs of two Black-owned businesses and MillerKnoll suppliers about the importance and benefit of implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in all aspects of their lives and businesses.

About Jireh Metal Products, Inc.
MillerKnoll is Jireh’s oldest customer through its acquisition of Meridian. Like most stampers, Jireh initially started out as a Tool & Die company. In 1981 Meridian requested Jireh run production parts on a tool they built, and the company officially separated Tool & Die from Stamping in 1983. Jireh does business with MillerKnoll through our Direct Procurement team. Jireh is a National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) certified Minority Owned Business (MBE) led by its President and CEO Michael Davenport, who is passionate about excellence, diversity, sustainability, and the power and responsibility of businesses to make real change.

Michael Davenport – President and CEO of Jireh Metal Products, Inc.

Q: Tell us about your journey and how you became the owner of Jireh Metal Products.

A: I have always had the entrepreneurial bug. As a child, I delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, sold T-shirts, ironed shirts, and sold dinners in college. In every position I’ve held, I took the approach to make decisions as if I were the owner of the company.  The opportunity to be a part of the Jireh purchase came about from a childhood friend who believed in me and was able to convey his trust to my other partners.

Overall, my journey to this position has been blessed by some very good relationships, guidance, and hard work. None of us truly make it on our own by merits alone, and I am the poster child for that reality. Without the countless teachers, coaches, mentors, family, and friends, I would not be in this position. Thanks to those individuals and partners like MillerKnoll, Jireh gets to make a difference in the lives of our team members and the lives and businesses of our partners. This is a huge responsibility and opportunity that is not taken lightly.

Q: What is your company’s history/relationship with MillerKnoll or our brands.

A:  MillerKnoll and Jireh have had a partnership since the beginning. As MillerKnoll embarked on its Lean journey through MillerKnoll Performance System (MKPS), formerly the Herman Miller Performance System (HMPS), Jireh benefitted from its learnings as a supplier. Partnering has been the foundation of our over 40-year relationship. Jireh has also enjoyed a positive relationship with Knoll over the years. The joining of Herman Miller and Knoll brought together two partners that Jireh has served well over the years. 

Q: How have your personal and professional experiences shaped your role today in leading a company?

A: I would like to think that a potpourri of experiences helps me to have a unique perspective on the demands of leading Jireh. I have worked as a basketball coach (U.S. Military Academy & Xavier University), in the music industry, manufacturing, start-ups, and financial services which have given me a wide variety of experiences to draw upon. My education is a mixture of Psychology (Xavier University) and Law (University of Cincinnati College of Law) - two very different but intersected disciplines that I use daily.

Even though I have worked for some very well-respected organizations, the biggest impact of my leadership style has come from my playing and coaching days. Basketball taught me the value of individual contributions in a team environment. My college coach told me there was no “I” in “team,” but I reminded him there was a “me” in team. Just because you work in a team environment doesn’t negate the importance of the contributions of individuals. Basketball also taught me the value of strategy, player development, and recruiting. These principles are the core of Jireh, a winning company that values its team members and partners.

Q: Why is it important for you to work with businesses like MillerKnoll who value diverse-owned companies within its ecosystem? How does it support the Black community and other underrepresented communities in development, economic empowerment?

A: I believe that business can make big changes in the world.  If we want to have strong communities where all people feel a sense of belonging, we must be inclusive. Inclusivity is an intentionality to ensure opportunities for all. Communities improve as the members of the community improve. Practicing economic inclusion through things like supply chain diversification gives a great chance to holistically improve communities.

In the case of MillerKnoll, there is a conscious effort to have its supply chain be representative of the very diverse group of customers that uses its products daily. This is how business can be the catalyst to make big changes in the world.

MillerKnoll has taken a leadership position as it relates to supplier diversity and that means more opportunities for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) like Jireh.

Q: You were a part of an 18-month mentoring partnership with MillerKnoll through the Collaborative Growth Initiative (CGI) designed and launched by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) where MillerKnoll has been a corporate member for many decades. How has that program impacted your business?    

A: It was an honor for Jireh to be selected as one of MillerKnoll’s Collaborative Growth Initiative partners. We believe that the CGI experience between MillerKnoll and Jireh has affirmed our existing relationship and will be the springboard for future growth opportunities.

About CorrPak Group
CorrPak Group and MillerKnoll have been in business together since 2007, partnering with MillerKnoll’s Global Supply Management Indirect Procurement team. As an innovative packaging supplier first, and an MBE supplier, CorrPak has helped MillerKnoll reduce its waste and impact on the environment in new, inventive ways. CorrPak has made great strides in its efforts toward increased diversity, equity, and inclusion, which its Co-Founder and President Mark Wright shared with us in an interview.

Mark Wright – Co-Founder and President of CorrPak Group

Q: Tell us about your journey and how you became the owner of CorrPak.

A: Owning a company has always been my goal. I received an opportunity to acquire a company that was going through succession with its previous owner retiring. We had mutual business relationships and he recognized me as someone that would be able to take this company to the next level. The company was previously Native American-owned. The previous owner also recognized me as being of minority heritage and ensured that the company remained minority owned. Given my background, this provided me the opportunity to, with strategic partners, acquire the company and take it to the next level.  

Q: How have your personal and professional experiences shaped your role today in leading a company?

A: After college, my journey has been one of multiple professional roles, and several industries, residing in seven states and nine different cities in the past 25 years. At any point, if I was overlooked for a position or being advanced within an organization, I used that to learn what I didn’t know to remove all obstacles and excuses to succeed. An example of turning an obstacle into an opportunity was when I was overlooked for a promotion for not having extensive finance experience, I used this to motivate me to pursue an MBA with a Finance concentration.

Q: Is there anyone who has helped shape or guided your career?

A: I have had a few integral mentors in my life.

Having strong African American men to look up to and pave the way to success has given me the confidence to pursue executive roles and thrive in meetings and board rooms where I see very few people of color.

One of these role models was my father. My dad instilled a good work ethic in me. He was a 38-year General Motors employee and skilled tradesman who never allowed me to use excuses and made me work hard to earn what I want in life. He has instilled confidence in his kids to pave a way for generations.

My older brother Michael is also someone I have always looked up to. He has built a successful law firm with an impressive reputation fighting for justice and helping others.

I have also had a few other Black men in my life who have led large companies and have shown me how to remove obstacles, to never stop learning and honing your skills, and helping others along the way. I hope I too can be an inspiration for someone else, that they can also achieve an executive role and own a large company someday.

Q: Given that MillerKnoll requests suppliers to also promote diversity and inclusion, how do you promote inclusion and diversity at CorrPak?

A: The West Michigan community is home to a very diverse population. Subsequently, so is our workforce. Over 90% of our employees are from an underrepresented group. We partner with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and we are now starting to partner with LAUP (Latin Americans United for Progress) which helps the Latino community with translation services, education, immigration, ESL classes, and many other services. We also partner with other MBE companies. One of which, JMAX Transportation & Logistics, Inc. who is also a MillerKnoll long-term Black owned business and supplier, shares our building and has been a critical partner for many of our shipping needs. 

Q: Why is it important for you to work with businesses like MillerKnoll who value diverse-owned companies within its ecosystem? How does it support the Black community and other underrepresented communities in development, economic empowerment?

A: As a certified NMSDC MBE focused on sustainable packaging, we feel like we are a perfect fit to work with MillerKnoll. We take pride in the fact that over 90% of CorrPak’s employees are from a Minority population; this is providing economic mobility within the community from Holland, Zeeland, Fennville, and other underrepresented communities in West Michigan. We have focused on raising pay, offering benefits, and creating a better work environment with upward mobility since day one.

MillerKnoll's commitment to CorrPak has played a huge role in the implementation of many of our improvements now that we have the volume and capacity to implement changes that would be very challenging otherwise. We look forward to what the future holds for our relationship with MillerKnoll as we continue to be a part of the movement to bring about a diverse, sustainable future.

Q: You were a part of an 18-month mentoring partnership with MillerKnoll through the Collaborative Growth Initiative designed and launched by the Michigan MSDC. How has that program impacted your business?    

A: Having the opportunity to participate in the Collaborative Growth Initiative was huge. During that time, we were able to connect with several MBEs from different industries with similar challenges to share ideas and discuss best practices. We were also introduced to several companies on my customer wish list. Through those introductions, we had the opportunity to bid on multiple projects, which helped foster our 2022 growth.


MillerKnoll’s commitment to supplier and business diversity spans many decades as we were the first in the industry to launch a supplier diversity program that has been in place for more than 30 years. MillerKnoll partners with various third-party non-government certifying organizations to conduct outreach to certified diverse owned business. Aside from our longstanding corporate membership with the NMSDC, MillerKnoll is also a corporate member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the Great Lakes Regional Partner affiliate of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – the Great Lakes WBC, and the Veteran Owned Business Roundtable (VOBRT). For more information on MillerKnoll’s Supplier Diversity process and program, please contact the team at Supplier.Diversity@MillerKnoll.com.