Five Minutes with Daryle L. Johnson, Interim CEO & President, Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council

Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) is a cherished partner of Business Equity for Indy (BEI), most commonly working alongside the Procurement & Participation Taskforce to support awareness, education, and relationship-building between corporations and Black- and minority-owned businesses. As interim CEO & President of Mid-States MSDC, Daryle, often better known as The Idea Guy, has rolled up his sleeves and gotten straight to work. The BEI communications team recently got a chance to catch up with Daryle and learn more about his hopes for Mid-States, himself, and Black-owned businesses over the coming months.

Daryle, on LinkedIn, your tagline is The Idea Guy. You’ve got to tell us about that.

I was an entrepreneur before I realized I wanted to be one—all thanks to a cell phone and pager store that I owned and operated at 21 years old in my hometown. When I met my wife at the Circle City Classic, she lured me to Indiana where I had to quickly decide if I wanted to pursue a path in corporate America, working a traditional nine to five. However, what I loved most about owning my own businesses was the opportunity to meet people and to hear about their ideas—ideas that I felt passionately about helping them realize. This realization led me down the road of relationship-building, which ultimately, is how I created opportunities for myself as an entrepreneur.

So, being The Idea Guy isn’t just about having ideas, it’s about empowering others to share their ideas?

Now you’re catching on! I’m incredibly interested in people and passionate about empowering people to make things happen—whatever that means for them. The value of that approach is two-fold. I get to foster relationships with people that I actually enjoy working with. Furthermore, many of these individuals go on to realize their ideas, pursue new goals, and continue to find success down the road. Secondly, though, as an entrepreneur, I’ve always had a career where I was selling a product, idea, or service. When you’re in the business of relationship building and maintaining, you’re often selling to those who already trust you. That credibility goes a long way working with corporations on building supplier diversity.

Though you’re serving as the Interim CEO & President of Mid-States MSDC, is it true you’ve been with the company for nearly 20 years? How has your role evolved over your tenure?

When I started with Mid-States back in 2005, I was tasked with spearheading some of our signature events—think annual trade shows, golf outings, and dinners. However, I quickly realized that the diverse businesses we served needed greater opportunities to connect. During this time, I was able to leverage my ideas to create new things, and ultimately, new ways for our Black and Brown companies to get access to each other, potential clients, and the community at large.

Our infrastructure allows for some pretty amazing things to happen. Last year, Mid-States corporations and diverse businesses contracted a total of $19.1 billion across Indiana, Illinois, eastern Missouri, and the Greater St. Louis area. Today, we operate one of the largest Black and Brown accelerators in the country, Accelerate 100+. Through this program, we’re equipping small and medium sized, diverse businesses with the resources and mentors they need to walk through a guided program that helps them build, launch, and scale their businesses—not only that, but we also provide access to purchasing and contract opportunities. The second cohort of Accelerate 100+ begins on October 27, and I would invite anyone interested in the program to learn more from our participating companies and to sign up on the Mid-States website.

Through Accelerate 100+, Mid-States is at the forefront of supporting minority entrepreneurs and small businesses. Are there separate programs dedicated to businesses larger in size?

Mid-States recently completed the Center of Excellence Program, a program specifically designed to support Minority Business Enterprises, class two businesses, who achieve annual revenue of one to ten million. This national program, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, helps scaling businesses think through and plan for the structural changes that come from transitioning from a business to a company. That support can include adding staffing layers, building processes, increasing access to capital, and beyond.

Daryle, throughout your tenure at Mid-States, you’ve surely seen a great deal of change. When Mid-States began partnering with Business Equity for Indy, specifically with our Procurement & Participation Taskforce, what were your initial thoughts?

The climate of inclusion in business 20 years ago doesn’t compare to today. While nothing’s perfect, 20 years ago, companies weren’t making vocal, investment commitments to supplier diversity. Today, it’s great to see corporations like Eli Lilly & Co., Cummins Inc., Salesforce, and others for committing hundreds of millions in investments with Black-owned businesses. George Floyd’s murder seemed to be a lightning rod in time, and Indianapolis’ responded with the creation of BEI. I’ve yet to see an initiative like this in other markets. BEI is not just talking about but is acting in sustainable ways that create opportunities for Black-owned businesses. I tell all of the minority businesses I work with that now’s the time. If you’re a Black-owned business in Indy, and you’re not thriving right now, you aren’t properly leveraging the programs and initiatives to help you launch, grow, and scale your business.

To connect with Mid-States MSDC, please visit https://www.midstatesmsdc.org/.

Blog authored by Daryle L. Johnson, Interim CEO & President, Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council

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