Here’s to 50 Years! James Group International Celebrates Its Trailblazing Roots.  

John A. James and his sons Lorron James, center, and John James.

Photos provided by James Group International



When John A. James founded his company — then called O-J Transport — in 1971, the entrepreneurial leader turned his vision into a reality carving out a path for himself and others — especially Black professionals coming after him in the supply chain industry.


Fifty years later, James Group International, located at 4335 W Fort St. in Detroit, is still leading the way.

The James Group (a group of companies offering international supply chain services like consolidation, deconsolidation, sub-assembly, warehousing, transportation services, and more) began as a partnership between John James and his uncle, Calvin Outlaw starting with one truck. The operation grew exponentially and became a global company.


In 1991, James established Motor City Intermodal Distribution, a marine terminal, and Foreign Trade Zone, and that was followed two years later by Motor City Logistics, a warehousing and parts sequencing operation. Renaissance Global Logistics (RGL) was launched in 1998 as a global consolidation operation, packing and exporting automotive component to South Africa, South America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.


JASCO International, a strategic alliance with Sumitomo Corporation of America and Sumitrans was added to James Group International in 2000. JASCO International has three operations – two deconsolidation centers for inventory arriving from Japan, Malaysia, Spain, the U.K., and Korea, and a sub-assembly operation in Park City, Ky. Motor City Express (MCX) was established in July 2001 to provide truckload transportation services, the company’s website added.


James Group International was the first Black company to be issued broad operating authority to transport automotive parts and other commodities in the State of Michigan, according to their website.

It is also the first Black company nationally to be granted such authority by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to operate in Interstate and foreign commerce.

The legislation at the federal level represented the first major change in trucking regulation and eased the burden of minorities entering the trucking industry.

Because of his own business experiences (which included taking his case for transportation authority to the U.S. Supreme Court) James spread his knowledge and expertise with other minority business entrepreneurs looking to enter this highly competitive field.

As a leading global provider of logistics, supply chain management, and e-commerce services, the James Group continues its mission to provide the most innovative and forward-thinking solutions available anywhere in the world.

The company grew and in the mid-1990s, became the highest volume truckload carrier for a major OEM by hauling more than 2,000 truckloads of cargo weekly. That number continues to increase as the company expands under the leadership of his two sons Lorron and John E. James.

Lorron James, CEO of the James Group International, told the Michigan Chronicle during a recent interview that the company is celebrating their semicentennial milestone to coincide with his father’s birthday, which will more than likely be this fall.

James said that the company’s founder, the man he knows as “dad,” was a visionary who started this business with his uncle to bridge the gap.

“They didn’t want to get into trucking specifically. They fulfilled a need,” Lorron said of trucking jobs, among other opportunities, around the region that was ripe for the picking “that others didn’t want to do.”

“(My father) earned a lot of respect from their automotive customers. That turned into getting a lot more responsibilities, even changing the law to allow other people to break into the industry,” Lorron James said, adding that after several years the company discovered an untapped market. “We found out that trucking was a very small piece of the transportation pie and we decided to get into logistics material.”

Lorron James said that today the company is expanding its reach in even broader ways.

“Today we are trying to find ways to partner with other tier ones (to) give us more exposure to other opportunities,” Lorron James said, adding that the company also wants to take a more serious look at working with private equity entities and partnership mergers and acquisitions.”

Lorron James added that it is “critical” for companies like James Group International to give back to their communities, which comes second nature to this Black-led company that prides itself on being headquartered in the City of Detroit.

“There are a lot of people that need to see companies like ours trying to do the best we can in the community creating jobs in the area we are in,” Lorron James said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to move in the suburbs … we opted to keep our headquarters in southwest Detroit.”

William F. Pickard, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Detroit leader, has known of the James Group International for the “entire 50 years” it’s been in existence.

“He is a trailblazer — he is a difference-maker,” Pickard said of the company’s founder. “And the thing that amazed me about Mr. James is he blazed a trail for all of us in the automotive (sector) but especially those in transportation. And he even reached back to help his competitors who were coming into the same space he was in – namely transportation and logistics.”

Pickard called James’ story a “great American story.”

“And even a greater Black American story of success, sacrifice, and service,” Pickard said.


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