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Wall St. and Businesses Wednesdays: Area's Black Businesses Hail Webster Car Dealer by Michael Wentzel

Randy Henderson Jr., owner of Webster Chrysler Jeep Inc., finds little honor in being the only African-American Chrysler Jeep dealer in the state.
”I’d like to see the time when all our businesses reflect the communities we’re a part of,” he said Thursday after being named the recipient of the Rochester Black Business Association’s member of the year award.

Henderson, 47, thanked God, his staff and his family for the award at the association’s annual spring luncheon at the R.I.T. Inn and Conference Center in Henrietta. He asked his wife, Marion Henderson, to accept the award.

”It’s not about me,” he told the crowd of about 300.

The association also honored Andrew Langston, owner of WDKX-FM (103.9), for 30 years in business, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car as the Corporate Development Committee’s partner of the year. It awarded $1,000 scholarships to three city high school seniors.

Henderson, who previously owned auto dealerships in Ohio and Illinois, took over Webster Chrysler Jeep in 1997. He also has formed a partnership with the Ford Motor Co. to operate Webster Ford.

”We’re in a growth mode,” he said. “We’ve had challenges with the layoffs in the area, but sales have been good. We’ve been blessed.”

The escalating price of gas has not affected auto sales yet, he said.

”We’re still selling big cars,” he said. “As the economy strengthens, the auto business will grow.”

Henderson, whose first business was owning and driving a truck, started selling cars 22 years ago. His Webster businesses have about 100 employees.

In addition to his business achievements, the association cited Henderson for his involvement in the organization and community. He is a member of several boards, including Action for a Better Community.

The luncheon’s theme was “Cultivating a Vibrant Black Business Community.”

Melvin Gravely, the luncheon’s keynote speaker, emphasized the value of minority businesses and customers.

For a community to go forward, the fastest growing population has to be involved in the mainstream of the economy, said Gravely, author of When Black and White Make Green: The Next Evolution in Business and Race. Minority businesses have to view success as more than winning a contract set aside for minorities.

”Are you more able to compete tomorrow than you were yesterday?” Gravely said. Companies also should care about how well their minority partners grow.

White and minority businesses should form partnerships of value, he said.

”You can’t legislate relationships. Trust and credibility and working together on what matters builds relationships,” Gravely said. “We need inclusion by natural means and relationships by natural means.”

Without more inclusion, Gravely said he feared the United States would lose its urban centers.

Henderson takes over as president of the local association in January, succeeding Alan D. Caine, owner of Fiducial Business Services. His goal is to expand the organization’s scope, he said.

”We want to provide more value to our members and the community,” he said. “We want to reach out to smaller companies and to people who want to be in business, not just the larger companies.”

And, Henderson said, he wants to remind everyone that membership in the association is open to anyone who wants a successful black business community.

Michael Wentzel can be contacted at:

Note: This article first appeared at The Democrat and Chronicle

Copyright 2004 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

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