Joseph Roy is a technological entrepreneur. He is the owner of RoyTek Website Designs, which has been in existence since 1998. Roy is also the web administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Division of Business Management. In his spare time, he is active in the community and teaches computer courses at Madison College.
He is also the president of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) which, until recently, was called the African American Black Business Association (AABBA). The Madison Times caught up with him recently to ask him about a variety of topics related to MBCC.
The Madison Times: The African American Black Business Association recently changed its name to the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce. Can you talk to me a little about the name change?
Joseph Roy: The African American Black Business Association (AABBA) has evolved into the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC). We are no longer just an association of Black business owners in Madison. Through this name change, the organization achieves instant recognition of its intended purpose to support and promote commerce, specifically Black businesses, as well as its instant affiliation to other local and/or national Chamber of Commerce organizations, such as the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce. As a result, we are confident that our members will be better served with this name change. The mission of the Madison Black Chamber remains the same and is embedded in its slogan, “Making Smart Black Businesses Smarter.”
TMT: The name change was announced at this spring’s 2nd annual Weekend Business Retreat at the Grand Magnunson Hotel. How was that retreat and what kind of things transpired there?
JR: We had a very powerful Weekend Business Retreat. We informally dubbed it the “Business Boot Camp” because it was an entire weekend event, beginning late Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. During this time all of the participants were highly encouraged to stay at the hotel the entire duration of this three-day camp. This gave business owners the opportunity to focus their direct attention on incorporating techniques learned at this retreat into their own businesses. Nearly 40 different Black businesses participated in this retreat, which was full of workshops, motivational speakers, and great food.
Our keynote speaker, sports pro Spencer Tillman from Dallas, Texas, brought a wealth of inspiration to entrepreneurial thinking at the Business Retreat. His presentation on “The Red Zone” focused on the similarities between making decisions in critical times in your life and the red zone on the football field. He advised business people to first have a vision, then the will to do it, then to execute the plan, and finally to expect success. Gerry Foster, a nationally known branding and marking expert based in California, presented via two live webinars. This Brand Master stressed the importance of having a distinction that sets your business apart from all the others. Another highlight of the retreat was the Panel of Expertise with veteran Black business owners. Participating were Ray Allen, Publisher, Madison Times; Wayne Hyler, Hyleco Financial Services; Ray Smith, Hiring & Staff Services, LaTonya Webb, Divine Transformations Salon; Jeff Patterson, JP Hair Designs; and Larry Sain, State Farm Insurance agent. Combined, this panel represented over 100 years in business experience. Other workshops included social media, a presentation by WWBIC on getting small business loans, and private one-on-one sessions with Summit Credit Union about the strength and weaknesses of their credit score.
The Madison Black Chamber is proud that all of the expenses related to the retreat went to small, locally owned businesses. The Chamber bought goods and services from over 16 Black businesses, which are all either current members or will soon become members of the Madison Black Chamber. The catered food was provided by the following Black businesses: Melly Mells, JD’s Steak, Teddy Wedgers, and Harold’s Chicken. Desserts were provided by Valice Gross and Mo’BettaButter Cookies. The T-shirts and first official Madison Black Chamber of Commerce bags were provided by Richard’s Shirt Factory. Most of the workshops were presented by Black business owners.
TMT: Why would it be a good idea to join MBCC? What type of benefits are there?
JR:It is a great idea to join the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce because we make it a practice to show our commitment to our members and our community through leading by example. We help strengthen your business by spending our money on your goods and services and highly encouraging other Black businesses to do so as well. We make it a strong point to circulate our capital among each other. The Madison Black Chamber provides networking and training opportunities for our members to come together with like minded business owners to help grow and sustain their businesses. We will highlight and promote member businesses on our new website which is currently under development, on Facebook, and at all of our networking events. We are here to help your business succeed.
TMT: Do you see any partnerships for the MBCC in the future as you work towards the goal of more minority business ownership in Dane County?
JR: The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Urban League, WWBIC, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Madison Development Corporation, Madison College, the UW Small Business Development Center, Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the City of Madison (Mayor’s Office), the Madison Network of Black Professionals, Summit Credit Union, and McFarland Bank.
Through these partnerships we are creating financial, educational, and other networking opportunities that could have direct impacts on the growth and success of Black businesses in Madison. We look forward to further developing these relationships as well as creating other partnerships to help increase benefits for our members.
TMT: A big part of having a successful business is networking and making contacts and connections and its part of the reason that the minority businesses have often struggled in Dane County and beyond. How is this something that the MBCC can help businesses with?
JR: The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce can host or sponsor a series of networking events to help facilitate making contacts and connections between Black businesses. The Black Chamber will also produce a Black Business Directory to circulate among our members so that we can all realize what Black businesses are in Madison, who they are, and where they are located. As a result, we can all start doing more business with one another. This can also create more opportunities for some of us to partner with each other to help strengthen our businesses.
TMT: As president of the MBCC, what are your goals for this year and beyond?
JR:As president of the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, I have at least three major goals for this year and beyond. My first goal is to make more Black businesses aware of us and become members. At our business weekend retreat, I discovered that there are many Black businesses in Madison that did not know where we are or what we do. Through an extensive marketing campaign, the development of a new web site, using Facebook, and networking events with the Madison Network of Black Professionals and the Latino Chamber I intend to make sure that the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce becomes well known for creating business opportunities for our members and helping their businesses to succeed.
My second goal is to start bringing Black businesses in Madison together to support each other. The mission of the Madison Black Chamber is to support the establishment and growth of Black businesses in Madison. Our plan is to promote and invest in the economic consumer power of the Black population in Madison.
My third goal is to actively engage the partnerships we developed to begin offering an on-going series of business training and networking seminars. We intend to honor our motto of “Making Smart Black Businesses Smarter.” Working with Summit Credit Union and WWBIC, the Madison Black Chamber will host or sponsor monthly financial information sessions and other training opportunities to help our members learn how to better manage their business finances. Working with McFarland Bank, the Madison Development Corporation, and similar institutions, the Madison Black Chamber will refer members for loan opportunities. We will work with Madison College and the UW Small Business Development Center to provide discounts on business related courses made available to our members. It is all about becoming smarter business owners.