Local auto business drives change in the community
Social entrepreneur James Holmes is the owner of the company Black Lion Auto (BLA) and the founder of nonprofit the Black Lion Foundation (BLF). Both were launched a year ago in Minnesota.
There’s special meaning behind the “Black Lion” business name. “No modesty to it,” Holmes said. “Lion is the apex. It doesn’t ask anyone what it’s going to do. Lion is king and it’s royalty.” The logo is a “banner of reclaiming our greatness,” Holmes added.
Black Lion Foundation operates out of New Salem Baptist Church on Wednesdays at 2507 North Bryant Ave., in Minneapolis. The purpose of the BLF is to uplift, empower and guide local entrepreneurs or those who aspire to become business owners.
Related Story: Black Lion Foundation aims to ignite Black economic growth
Black Lion Auto, meanwhile, is headquartered in Medina. The business is conducted primarily online, so they’re open 24 hours a day.
Holmes grew up in Minneapolis and has over 30 years in the auto and finance industry. “I was trained originally by Merrill Lynch,” he said. He also graduated from Minneapolis Central High and Drake University.
Holmes’ wife Kimberly is the chief operations officer and legal counsel. She’s equipped with 30 years of experience working as an attorney. Kimberly also served in the capacity of General counsel for former Governor Mark Dayton.
Right now, customers can view Black Lion Auto’s business website that showcases over 100 vehicles. Holmes and his team are happy to assist individuals with finding a reliable and affordable vehicle, free of charge.
The BLA dealership has a unique business model. “The design is to provide a service,” Holmes said. “Historically speaking, Black people have had to pay higher prices and higher rates.” He’s on a mission to help individuals in the community.
Customers can expect exceptional customer service and proper guidance throughout the car buying process. He shared a message for future customers: “Just show up and let us explain it to you, then sign the papers.” The process is simple and transparent. Holmes expressed that he’s available to help, educate, inform and assist.
Although business has been great, there have been challenges along the way. The tragic death of George Floyd created a major impact on the way Holmes conducts business.
Holmes explained, “The day after George Floyd was murdered, Black Lion Foundation started a marathon sprint, meaning the work is gonna have to go for a while.” The horrific tragedy caused Holmes to put more energy into working toward addressing brutality and racial disparities through his foundation.
In addition, “When COVID hit, a lot of businesses were impacted, including mine. Fortunately, I was never highly leveraged, [that’s] the reason why I’m still around.” He’s grateful to be in business and is gearing his efforts toward helping other business owners.
They explained, “Black Lion Auto pledges 10% of its profits to fund the foundation and another 10% goes to churches.”
In essence, the business serves as his calling in life, it is part of his purpose and vocation. “I have to do this in order to be obedient. I was called to it; God knows my heart. He knows I’m stubborn as far as compromise,” Holmes said.
He added, “My dream was to branch out of my own dealership. My work is about the service work. It’s very fulfilling.”
Overall, James and wife Kimberly both value social responsibility and their work exemplifies the spirit of social entrepreneurship.
Black Lion Auto is located at 785 Tower Drive in Medina, Minnesota. For more info, visit www.blacklionauto.com or call 763-656-8762.
For more info about Black Lion Foundation, visit www.blacklionfoundation.com.