Contributor: Markayle Tolliver, Coordinator, Community Impact
During Black History Month, World Business Chicago will be spotlighting inspiring Black business leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs. This week we spotlight the owner and founder of a Chicago-based chemical manufacturer. Meet business owner Linda McGill-Boasmond of Cedar Concepts. Cedar Concepts manufactures surfactants, lubricants, and chemical intermediates – and ships over 50 million pounds of product annually.
Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside. Linda credits much of her success today to her parents. Linda’s father was a pre-medical student before marrying her mother. After they were married, Linda’s mother became a housewife & Linda’s father took a job as a production supervisor at a chemical plant. Linda says, “I was a ‘daddy’s girl.’ He spoiled me to the nth degree, but also emphasized the importance of hard work. He told me I could be President one day if I wanted it badly enough”. Linda’s father said – “I don’t care what you decide to do in life, just be the best at it.” My parents, along with hearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, convinced me at a young age I could be whatever I set my mind to – and I wanted to be a doctor.
Linda shares her path to business and entrepreneurship –
“After genetics and anatomy classes, I knew I was not going to be a doctor, but I held on to my dream in science. After working at a number of Fortune 500 companies, it was at a small chemical company where I progressed to operations manager and became a partner in the company. Not long after that, the founder died. They decided to sell the company. I thought, “just my luck,” figuring I would be bought out and back to pounding the pavement looking for another job. My accountant asked why I didn’t buy the company. I remembered a long discussion I had with my former manager who had encouraged me to become a supervisor. She had talked about the importance of owning and manufacturing something. It struck a chord in me because that was one of my dreams – not just for myself, but so I could help others make a difference in their lives. Whatever my ideas in that area, I certainly hadn’t planned to spend my money on a chemical company. I didn’t think the time was right in terms of my finances. Then, my accountant introduced me to a banker who turned out to be a friend from the neighborhood. She put together a package that convinced me I could do it. I made an offer to the surviving partner – he was so happy. I think he was waiting for me to come to the realization that I should do this. Not only that, I realized there was a plan after all! In retrospect, it looks like one of those old “against all odds” movies you picture yourself in but are surprised to discover the hero is you!”
Linda shares her advice for the next generation of leaders –
“As hard as I’ve worked to achieve all of this, I could not have done it alone. God is foremost. Beyond that, someone has been there for encouragement or to provide a resource I needed every step of the way – relatives, friends, co-workers, people from my own and other cultures if I’m not afraid to ask. Look around you. Acknowledge all people you meet with respect. They are an important part of your network and tomorrow or 15 years from now, they could be the friend, associate, partner or service provider who will be there for you when you least expect.”
For more information about Linda Boasmond and Cedar Concepts visit the website at http://cedarconcepts.net/.