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Bing, Dave

Dave Bing

1943–

Basketball player, business executive

The image of the millionaire professional athlete is a familiar one. But Dave Bing, though he came from modest origins to become one of basketball's all-time greats and a wealthy man, matches none of the stereotypes. Bing's position as a leader of Detroit's business community and as one of the most successful African-American executives in the nation may owe something to his fame as an athlete, but much more to ambition, acumen, and hard work.

Born on November 23, 1943, Bing grew up in a poor neighborhood in Washington, D.C. His family provided Bing with a solid foundation. His parents "had old-fashioned values," Bing explained to Rick Telander of Sports Illustrated. Bing absorbed those values from his family and learned others, notably teamwork and long-term thinking, from his high school basketball coach. William Roundtree, the coach at Spingarn High in Washington, D.C., believed in teamwork above all. "If I'd had a different philosophy," Roundtree conceded to Telander, "David could have scored 40 points a game." As it was, Bing's statistics were conspicuous enough to get him named to the Senior Scholastic High School All-America team and recruited by Syracuse University in 1962.

Became Professional Basketball Player

Already interested in business, Bing majored in economics and marketing at Syracuse. On the basketball court, he was an All-American, averaging 24.8 points per game over four years and setting a school scoring record that stood for more than 20 years. Never an exceptionally accurate shooter, especially at long ranges, Bing achieved his scoring prowess with his talent for getting past defenders and by taking many shots—sometimes 30 or more a game. At six feet, three inches, he was considered small for the National Basketball Association (NBA), but what a Time correspondent called his "whippet-like speed and agility" as well as his extraordinary jumping ability made him the number two pick when the Detroit Pistons drafted him upon his graduation in 1966.

Bing came to the Pistons as something of a consolation prize: the hapless Detroit team had finished the previous season in a last-place tie with the New York Knicks and hoped to revitalize itself by drafting University of Michigan star Cazzie Russell. When the team lost a coin toss with the Knicks, Russell went to New York and the Pistons had to "settle" for Bing. A year later it was obvious that the Pistons had no need to console themselves; Russell was still struggling to establish himself, while Bing was named Rookie of the Year and averaged 20 points a game, finishing 10th in the league in scoring.

In his second season, Bing scored 2,142 points to lead the NBA, averaging 27.1 per game and several times shooting over 30 points. He was chosen to start in the All-Star game, the first of seven All-Star appearances, and almost single-handedly lifted the Pistons out of the East Division cellar for the first time in years. He went on to become one of basketball's dominant guards, scoring 18,327 points in his 12 seasons—including 54 shot in a single game—and making 5,397 assists, enough to place him 24th and 12th, respectively, in the all-time rankings for those categories in 1991.

In 1975 Bing was traded to the Washington Bullets, his hometown team, and though he was past his prime, he played in all 82 games of the 1975–76 season and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1976 All-Star game. He spent two years with the Bullets, then decided to retire from basketball in 1978 after a year with the Boston Celtics. When he left the game, the Pistons retired his number, 21, making him the first Piston to be so honored.

Basketball Offered Little Money

Bing's sports career came well before the era of multi-million dollar contracts, and he was not among the best-paid players of his time. His salary for the 1966–67 season was only $15,000, and his biggest contract, with the Washington Bullets in 1977, was for $225,000. "Then I took a $35,000 cut to play for the Celtics my last season," he recalled in Sports Illustrated. "The mistake most of us make," he acknowledged to the Washington Post's David Aldridge, "is that we think we're going to play forever. Very few guys, I think, prepare for a second career. The lifestyle we lead, the position that the public puts us in as a successful athlete, makes us think we're invincible."

Bing, however, had never counted on basketball to make his fortune. He had to work in the off-season to support his family. In 1967, he went to the National Bank of Detroit to apply for a mortgage to buy a house. He got the loan, but he also got a job—a position as a management trainee. For the next eight years he worked for the bank during the off-season. "I … learned everything there was to know about money, financing, and the banking industry," he disclosed to Lloyd Gite of Black Enterprise.

Bing's move to Washington put an end to his banking career. He spent two years in a Chrysler dealer training program, preparing to some day own a dealership. But after his retirement in 1978 he was approached with an offer by Paragon Steel, a Detroit-based company. When he learned that Paragon was only looking for a prominent athlete to fulfill a public relations role, Bing declined the offer. Paragon returned with a proposal more to his liking: a two-year training program that would give him a chance to learn the ins and outs of the steel business. "I worked in the warehouse with inventory control, in the plant getting a basic knowledge of the product and in shipping and receiving," he informed Gite. "On the inside I started in the accounting area, then on to credit, purchasing, sales, and marketing."

At a Glance …

Born November 29, 1943, in Washington, DC; son of a building contractor; married twice (divorced); children: Cassaundra, Aleisha, Bridgett. Education: Syracuse University, BA, 1966.

Career: Professional basketball player with Detroit Pistons, 1966–74, Washington Bullets, 1975–77, and Boston Celtics, 1977–78; National Bank of Detroit, Detroit, MI, management trainee, 1967–75; Paragon Steel, Detroit, management trainee, 1978–80; Bing Steel, Inc. (renamed Bing Group), Detroit, owner and president, 1980–. Worked as basketball commentator on radio and television, 1980s.

Memberships: Children's Hospital of Detroit, board member; DTE Energy Co, board member, 1985–2005; Michigan Association of Retarded Children and Adults, board member; Black United Fund, board member; Detroit Urban League, board member; and March of Dimes.

Awards: National Basketball Association (NBA) Rookie of the Year, 1967; named to NBA All-Star Team seven times; National Minority Small Businessperson of the Year, 1984; elected to Basketball Hall of Fame, 1990; Schick Achievement Award, 1990; named one of 50 greatest players in NBA history as part of NBA 50th anniversary celebration, 1996; National Conference for Community and Justice of Michigan, Humanitarian of the Year Award, 2006; Syracuse University, honorary doctorate of law, 2006.

Addresses: Office—Bing Group, 11500 Oakland Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48211. Web—www.bing-group.com.

After two years Bing felt ready to strike out on his own in the steel business. In addition to his race, Bing's reputation as an athlete proved to be an obstacle to starting a business; as he pointed out in Black Enterprise, "Most folks don't think blacks understand economies of scale, big business and big dollars. There were people who didn't think I had the ability or acumen to understand that. Secondly, being an athlete was a negative [thing], because we are viewed as idiots." The bank officer who handled Bing's startup loan observed to the Washington Post's Aldridge that Bing's fame was "a double edged sword. Some of my counterparts viewed him as a jock only; others were so in awe of him that they didn't really pay attention to the financial side of his plans."

Bing had no hesitation about using his athletic fame to boost business. He went to work as a radio and television commentator, covering Michigan State University's basketball games throughout the Midwest for two years. Since Bing Steel's marketing area coincided with the states where Big Ten universities were located, being a media personality was a valuable marketing tool. Bing's radio broadcasts and television appearances were, in essence, free advertising for Bing Steel. Closer to home, he has also worked as a commentator for his old team, the Detroit Pistons.

Built His Own Business

It took $150,000 of Bing's savings and a bank loan to start Bing Steel, which processes steel as opposed to making it. He had effectively laid the groundwork for a successful business venture, but the company began operations in the middle of the worst recession the American steel industry had known since the 1930s. Bing Steel lost $90,000 in its first six months of operation. "I thought I was going to bleed to death," Bing admitted in Black Enterprise. The company turned the corner when Bing won a contract to supply steel to General Motors. This led to more business with the automaker, as well as orders from other companies. With its reputation and sales growing quickly, Bing Steel became profitable two years later, grossing $4.2 million in 1982 and more than double that the next year. By 1990 sales were $61 million, making Bing Steel the 10th largest black-owned company in the United States, according to Black Enterprise.

Such achievements did not make Bing complacent: "The reality, in my opinion, is that we make peanuts," he asserted to the Washington Post's Aldridge. "Yeah, we're doing okay. But I think gross sales is an aberration of how one looks at success. To me as a business person, success … is what you can bring down to your bottom line." And he told a Sports Illustrated correspondent in 1991, "We almost lost it all in the last 12 to 18 months. I'm in this business because I like it. But when people say 'Would you do it over again?' you don't have to be a genius to say 'No.'" With the fragile state of the American steel industry in mind, Bing diversified, starting a metal stamping company, a construction company, and—with Pistons star Isiah Thomas—a fiberglass company.

By 1998, when the Bing Group was honored as Company of the Year by Black Enterprise, it included five companies: Bing Steel, Superb Manufacturing, Bing Manufacturing, Detroit Automotive Interiors, and Trim Tech L.L.C. The reasons for its selection, according to the publication, were many: Bing's leadership, the company's employment of large numbers of minorities, and its impressive revenue growth. In addition, the Bing Group's companies had been the top suppliers to the "Big Three" for more than a decade. The Bing Group also earned recognition as one of General Motors suppliers of the year in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Over the years, the Bing Group consolidated its businesses to focus on steel processing, metals assembly, and stamping. When the Bing Group was ranked among the top ten largest African-American-owned industrial companies in the country in 2005, employment had reached over 1,000 workers. Though sale of an assembly division in 2006 dropped Bing Group employment to about 700 by 2007, the company remained one of the most respected in its industry and a beacon of hope in Detroit.

Concerned with Quality of Life

Profit was never the sole driving force behind Bing's business. He built a reputation as a benevolent and caring employer who emphasized teamwork in his businesses. "It doesn't matter if you're the executive vice-president of Bing Steel or one of my hourly workers, you're going to get respect from me. Team effort is important here," he told Black Enterprise's Gite. "We all work together to get the job done." Seventy-eight percent of the company's workers are black, reflecting his beliefs: "I am trying to create employment opportunities for our people." And as he declared in Sports Illustrated, "I'll never pay just minimum wage, never." Bing prided himself on knowing employees by name and took time during his days to walk around and meet with them face to face.

Since devoting himself to Detroit, Bing has been active in many community organizations, spending 15 hours per week to charity work, in addition to the 60 hours he puts into his businesses. One of the lessons he learned early in life, he has said, was the importance of using whatever success he achieved to help others. He made headlines in 1989 when he set out to raise money to maintain athletic programs in the Detroit schools, which were facing a major financial crisis. "The easiest thing to do is quit on Detroit," he pointed out in an interview with Joe LaPointe of the New York Times. "I'm not about to do that." In response to critics who said that sports were not a priority in a financially strapped school system, Bing concluded in that same interview, "You look at 4,500 kids who are involved at school with sports and that is a significant number. Many of them would not go to school if these things are taken away." And he told a Black Enterprise correspondent, "I decided to raise money for sports because sports is how people relate to me." The magazine also quoted assistant school superintendent Thomas Steel, who observed: "For students who are at risk of dropping out of school, Dave Bing has sent them a message—someone cares about them."

Bing went even further: he built his own school. To increase the skills of his potential workforce, Bing teamed with the Ford Motor Company in 1999 to create the Detroit Manufacturing Training Center, a nonprofit school providing training in the skills necessary to work for automotive suppliers. The facility opened in 2000, and by 2005 Bing started to consider more educational initiatives: private schools in the Detroit area, including charter high schools. The first, a high school that would be affiliated with the Detroit public school system, was planned to open near the Bing Group campus in Detroit in the fall of 2007.

In addition to education, Bing focused his community work on improving neighborhoods. His efforts included the construction of single family homes near his manufacturing facilities. The homes would offer quality housing for middle-income families. Another project included the renovation of the Detroit riverfront with new condominiums, retail, and restaurant space. About his efforts, Bing explained to the Michigan Chronicle in 2005, "We all have a duty to make a difference. I can no longer sit idly by and watch this city, this community continue to fail. People don't have to live like this. We all have a stake in the future of this city. Our residents need to know that people care and that there is an alternative to what we have now." The construction projects were ongoing in 2007.

Held in High Esteem in Business, Community, and Sports

Bing's public profile and the high esteem in which he is held by his community generated speculation about his political prospects. In 1989 Bing was mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor of Detroit, but he denied having political aspirations and supported the incumbent, Coleman Young. According to Sports Illustrated, it was rumored that Young wanted Bing to succeed him in 1993; Bing commented at the time, "You think about it, but my responsibilities are to my companies and my people." Bing had assessed in the New York Times in 1989, "I've got some time left before I even consider thinking about a political career." But when Young left office in 1993, Bing did not hit the campaign trail. Bing's companies were going through some difficult financial struggles, and he remained focused on steering his businesses through 2007.

Bing's success in business did not eclipse attention on his basketball career, however. In 1990 Bing was elected to basketball's Hall of Fame. The selection process created some controversy; when none of the candidates received enough votes on the first round—thus raising the possibility that there would be no inductees in 1990—the committee created a second ballot with fewer names. Bing, along with Earl Monroe and Elvin Hayes, was selected after the second vote. New York Times columnist Dave Anderson derided the maneuver, and Hall of Fame president Bob Cousy resigned, claiming the credibility of the process had suffered. But the Washington Post, which praised the "style and substance" of the new Hall-of-Famers, noted that "even Cousy would be hard-pressed to argue that this year's class does not belong." The controversy had died down by 1996 when Bing was selected among the 50 greatest players in NBA history for the league's 50th anniversary celebration. Coming decades after his athletic career, these honors not only highlighted Bing's place in sports history they also spotlighted Bing's true greatness: his work ethic.

When held up as a role model to young African Americans, Bing emphasized his work ethic more than his sport career as inspiration. He acknowledged in the New York Times that "I'm probably one of the few black males in [Detroit] in business who has a positive image," but remarked in Sports Illustrated, "If I'm a role model, well, it's largely because I have a big payroll, I spend time in the community and I'm successful. I've never yet seen a role model who was broke, bankrupt, and out of work." At the same time, he pushed his philosophy that work and service are the means not only to material success but to deeper satisfaction in life, a point he reiterated in the Washington Post: "You need to work to be productive. Not so much for income. I'm not working for income, if you will. It's to be productive, it's to keep myself busy, to keep me doing something that's positive."

Sources

Books

Schleichert, Elizabeth, Dave Bing: Basketball Great with a Heart, Enslow, 1995.

Taragano, Martin, Basketball Biographies, McFarland & Co., 1991.

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, January 1985; October 1989; June 1998, p. 124.

Crain's Detroit Business, May 1, 2000, p. 21; February 6, 2006, p. 3; July 10, 2006, p. 17.

Corporate Detroit, October 1991, p. 37.

Detroit Free Press, June 4, 2002; December 13, 2006.

Jet, October 16, 1989, p. 6; March 4, 1991, p. 51.

Michigan Chronicle, September 21-27, 2005, p. B3.

Newsweek, January 8, 1968.

New York Times, July 25, 1989; May 10, 1990.

Post Standard (Syracuse, NY) February 1, 2006, p. C1.

Sports Illustrated, August 19, 1991, p. 48; July 12, 2004, p. 43.

Time, February 2, 1968.

Washington Post, May 22, 1989; May 13, 1990.

On-line

"Thompson Still Wants New Charter Schools," Michigan Education Report, www.mackinac.org/pubs/mer/article.asp?ID=7731 (February 14, 2007).

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"Bing, Dave." Contemporary Black Biography. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 25 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Bing, Dave 1943–

Dave Bing 1943

Business executive, former basketball player

At a Glance

Began Successful Second Career

Raised Money to Save School Sports

Became Hall of Fame Member

Sources

The image of the millionaire professional athlete is a familiar one. But Dave Bing, though he came from modest origins to become one of basketballs all-time greats and a wealthy man, matches none of the stereotypes. Bings position as a leader of Detroits business community and as one of the most successful African-American executives in the nation may owe something to his fame as an athlete, but much more to ambition, acumen, and hard work.

Bing grew up in a poor neighborhood in Washington, D.C., with his parents, who, as Bing explained to Rick Telander of Sports Illustrated, had old-fashioned values. Bing absorbed those values from his family and learned others, notably teamwork and long-term thinking, from his high school basketball coach. William Roundtree, the coach at Spingarn High in Washington, D.C., believed in teamwork above all. If Id had a different philosophy, Roundtree conceded to Telander, David could have scored 40 points a game. As it was, Bings statistics were conspicuous enough to get him named to the Senior Scholastic High School All-America team and recruited by Syracuse University in 1962.

Already interested in business, Bing majored in economics and marketing at Syracuse. On the basketball court, he was an All-American, averaging 24.8 points per game over four years and setting a school scoring record that stood for more than 20 years. Never an exceptionally accurate shooter, especially at long ranges, Bing achieved his scoring prowess with his talent for getting past defenders and by taking many shotssometimes 30 or more a game. At six feet, three inches, he was considered small for the National Basketball Association (NBA), but what a Time correspondent called his whippet-like speed and agility as well as his extraordinary jumping ability made him the number two pick when the Detroit Pistons drafted him upon his graduation in 1966.

Bing came to the Pistons as something of a consolation prize: the hapless Detroit team had finished the previous season in a last-place tie with the New York Knicks and hoped to revitalize itself by drafting University of Michigan star Cazzie Russell. When the team lost a coin toss with the Knicks, Russell went to New York and the Pistons had to settle for Bing. A year later it was obvious that the Pistons had no need to console themselves; Russell was still struggling to establish himself, while Bing was named

At a Glance

Born November 29, 1943, in Washington, DC; son of a building contractor; married twice (divorced); children: Cassaundra, Aleisha, Bridgett. Education: Syracuse University, B.A., 1966.

Professional basketball player with Detroit Pistons, 1966-74, Washington Bullets, 1975-77, and Boston Celtics, National Bank of Detroit, Detroit, Ml, management trainee, 1967-75; Paragon Steel, Detroit, management trainee, 1978-80; Bing Steel, Inc., Detroit, owner and president, 1980. Owner of Superb Manufacturing, Inc., and Heritage 21, Inc.; co-owner of Bing-Thomas, Inc. Worked as basketball commentator on radio and television. Has served on board of directors of Childrens Hospital of Detroit, Michigan Association of Retarded Children and Adults, Black United Fund, Detroit Urban League, and March of Dimes.

Awards: National Basketball Association (NBA) Rookie of the Year, 1967; named to NBA All-Star Team seven times; National Minority Small Businessperson of the Year, 1984; elected to Basketball Hall of Fame, 1990.

Addresses: Office Bing Steel, Inc., 1130 West Grand Blvd., Detroit, Ml 48208.

Rookie of the Year and averaged 20 points a game, finishing 10th in the league in scoring.

In his second season, Bing scored 2,142 points to lead the NBA, averaging 27.1 per game and several times shooting over 30 points. He was chosen to start in the All-Star game, the first of seven All-Star appearances, and almost single-handedly lifted the Pistons out of the East Division cellar for the first time in years. He went on to become one of basketballs dominant guards, scoring 18,327 points in his 12 seasonsincluding 54 shot in a single gameand making 5,397 assists, enough to place him 24th and 12th, respectively, in the all-time rankings for those categories in 1991.

In 1975 Bing was traded to the Washington Bullets, his hometown team, and though he was past his prime, he played in all 82 games of the 1975-76 season and was named Most Valuable Player of the 1976 All-Star game. He spent two years with the Bullets, then decided to retire from basketball in 1978 after a year with the Boston Celtics. When he left the game, the Pistons retired his number, 21, making him the only Piston to be so honored.

Bings sports career came well before the era of multimillion dollar contracts, and he was not among the bestpaid players of his time. His salary for the 1966-67 season was only $15,000, and his biggest contract, with the Washington Bullets in 1977, was for $225,000. Then I took a $35,000 cut to play for the Celtics my last season, he recalled in Sports Illustrated. The mistake most of us make, he acknowledged to the Washington Posts David Aldridge, is that we think were going to play forever. Very few guys, I think, prepare for a second career. The lifestyle we lead, the position that the public puts us in as a successful athlete, makes us think were invincible.

Began Successful Second Career

Bing, however, had never counted on basketball to make his fortune. In 1967, he went to the National Bank of Detroit to apply for a mortgage to buy a house. He got the loan, but he also got a joba position as a management trainee. For the next eight years he worked for the bank during the off-season. I learned everything there was to know about money, financing, and the banking industry, he disclosed to Lloyd Gite of Black Enterprise.

Bings move to Washington put an end to his banking career, but after his retirement he was approached with an offer by Paragon Steel, a Detroit-based company. When he learned that Paragon was only looking for a prominent athlete to fulfill a public relations role, Bing declined the offer. Paragon returned with a proposal more to his liking: a chance to learn the ins and outs of the steel business. I worked in the warehouse with inventory control, in the plant getting a basic knowledge of the product and in shipping and receiving, he informed Gite. On the inside I started in the accounting area, then on to credit, purchasing, sales, and marketing.

After two years Bing felt ready to strike out on his own in the steel business. In addition to his race, Bings reputation as an athlete proved to be an obstacle to starting a business; as he pointed out in Black Enterprise, Most folks dont think blacks understand economies of scale, big business and big dollars. There were people who didnt think I had the ability or acumen to understand that. Secondly, being an athlete was a negative [thing], because we are viewed as idiots. The bank officer who handled Bings startup loan observed to the Washington Posts Aldridge that Bings fame was a double edged sword. Some of my counterparts viewed him as a jock only; others were so in awe of him that they didnt really pay attention to the financial side of his plans.

Bing had no hesitation about using his athletic fame to boost business. He went to work as a radio and television commentator, covering Michigan State Universitys basketball games throughout the Midwest for two years. Since Bing Steels marketing area coincided with the states where Big Ten universities were located, being a media personality was a valuable marketing tool. Bings radio broadcasts and television appearances were, in essence, free advertising for Bing Steel. Closer to home, he has also worked as a commentator for his old team, the Detroit Pistons.

It took $80,000 of Bings savings and a $250,000 loan to start Bing Steel, which processes steel as opposed to making it. He had effectively laid the groundwork for a successful business venture, but the company began operations in the middle of the worst recession the American steel industry had known since the 1930s. Bing Steel lost $90,000 in its first six months of operation. I thought I was going to bleed to death, Bing admitted in Black Enterprise. The company turned the corner when Bing won a contract to supply steel to General Motors. This led to more business with the automaker, as well as orders from other companies. With its reputation and sales growing quickly, Bing Steel became profitable two years later, grossing $4.2 million in 1982 and more than double that the next year. By 1990 sales were $61 million, making Bing Steel the 10th largest black-owned company in the United States, according to Black Enterprise.

Such achievements did not make Bing complacent: The reality, in my opinion, is that we make peanuts, he asserted to the Washington Posts Aldridge. Yeah, were doing okay. But I think gross sales is an aberration of how one looks at success. To me as a business person, success is what you can bring down to your bottom line. And he told a Sports Illustrated correspondent in 1991, We almost lost it all in the last 12 to 18 months. Im in this business because I like it. But when people say Would you do it over again? you dont have to be a genius to say No. With the fragile state of the American steel industry in mind, Bing has diversified, starting a metal stamping company, a construction company, andwith Pistons star Isiah Thomasa fiberglass company.

Profit is not the only thing on Bings mind. He has a reputation as a benevolent and caring employer who emphasizes teamwork in his businesses and feels a strong responsibility for the well-being of his 200 employees. It doesnt matter if youre the executive vice-president of Bing Steel or one of my hourly workers, youre going to get respect from me. Team effort is important here, he told Black Enterprises Gite. We all work together to get the job done. Seventy-eight percent of the companys workers are blackI am trying to create employment opportunities for our people. And as he declared in Sports Illustrated, Ill never pay just minimum wage, never.

Raised Money to Save School Sports

Bing is also active in many community organizations, devoting 15 hours per week to charity work, in addition to the 60 hours he puts into his businesses. One of the lessons he learned early in life, he has said, was the importance of using whatever success he achieved to help others. He made headlines in 1989 when he set out to raise money to maintain athletic programs in the Detroit schools, which were facing a major financial crisis. The easiest thing to do is quit on Detroit, he pointed out in an interview with Joe LaPointe of the New York Times. Im not about to do that. In response to critics who said that sports were not a priority in a financially strapped school system, Bing concluded in that same interview, You look at 4,500 kids who are involved at school with sports and that is a significant number. Many of them would not go to school if these things are taken away. And he told a Black Enterprise correspondent, I decided to raise money for sports because sports is how people relate to me. The magazine also quoted assistant school superintendent Thomas Steel, who observed: For students who are at risk of dropping out of school, Dave Bing has sent them a messagesomeone cares about them.

Bings public profile and the high esteem in which he is held by his community have generated speculation about his political prospects. In 1989 Bing was mentioned as a possible candidate for mayor of Detroit, but he denied having political aspirations and supported the incumbent, Coleman Young. According to Sports Illustrated, it was rumored that Young wanted Bing to succeed him in 1993; Bing commented, You think about it, but my responsibilities are to my companies and my people. As he assessed in the New York Times in 1989, Ive got some time left before I even consider thinking about a political career.

Became Hall of Fame Member

In 1990 Bing was elected to basketballs Hall of Fame. The selection process created some controversy; when none of the candidates received enough votes on the first roundthus raising the possibility that there would be no inductees in 1990the committee created a second ballot with fewer names. Bing, along with Earl Monroe and Elvin Hayes, was selected after the second vote. New York Times columnist Dave Anderson derided the maneuver, and Hall of Fame president Bob Cousy resigned, claiming the credibility of the process had suffered. But the Washington Post, which praised the style and substance of the new hall-of-famers, noted that even Cousy would be hard-pressed to argue that this years class does not belong.

Bing is often held out as a role model to young African-Americans. He acknowledged in the New York Times that Im probably one of the few black males in [Detroit] in business who has a positive image, but remarked in Sports Illustrated, If Im a role model, well, its largely because I have a big payroll, I spend time in the community and Im successful. Ive never yet seen a role model who was broke, bankrupt, and out of work. At the same time, he pushes his philosophy that work and service are the means not only to material success but to deeper satisfaction in life, a point he reiterated in the Washington Post: You need to work to be productive. Not so much for income. Im not working for income, if you will. Its to be productive, its to keep myself busy, to keep me doing something thats positive.

Sources

Books

Taragano, Martin, Basketball Biographies, McFarland & Co., 1991.

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, January 1985; October 1989.

Jet, March 4, 1991.

Newsweek, January 8, 1968.

New York Times, July 25, 1989; May 10, 1990.

Sports Illustrated, August 19, 1991.

Time, February 2, 1968.

Washington Post, May 22, 1989; May 13, 1990.

Tim Connor

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Connor, Tim. "Bing, Dave 1943–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. 25 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Connor, Tim. "Bing, Dave 1943–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. (May 25, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2870500012.html

Connor, Tim. "Bing, Dave 1943–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2870500012.html

Bing, Dave 1943–

Dave Bing
1943

Owner and president, Bing Group

Nationality: American.

Born: November 29, 1943, in Washington, D.C.

Education: Syracuse University, BA, 1966.

Family: Son of a contractor; mother's occupation unknown. Twice married (divorced); children: three.

Career: Detroit Pistons, 19661975, basketball player; Bank of Detroit, 19671975, management trainee; Washington Bullets, 19751977, basketball player; Boston Celtics, 19771978, basketball player; National Paragon Steel, 19781980, management trainee; Bing Steel, 1980, owner and president.

Awards: National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year, 1967; National Minority Small Businessperson of the Year, 1984; Basketball Hall of Fame, 1990; Black Enterprise Company of the Year, 1998.

Address: Bing Group, 11500 Oakland Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48211; http://www.binggroup.com.

Dave Bing was one of the most successful black business owners in the United States. After completing a career as a superstar in the National Basketball Association, Bing started a steel service company in 1980. The Bing Group is one of the largest African Americanowned businesses in the United States. Bing is dedicated to improving the city of Detroit and to providing job opportunities for its citizens.

As a youth growing up in Washington, D.C., Bing developed an interest in business. His father, a building contractor, often took his son to construction sites. Bing decided early that he wanted one day to own his own company. An outstanding high school basketball player, he was recruited by Syracuse University. He was named All-American at Syracuse before graduating in 1966 with a degree in economics and marketing. Business was to be his second career.

Bing was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1966 and played professional basketball for twelve years, at a time when salaries were modest. To earn extra money during the off-season and prepare for his business career, he worked as a bank management trainee for seven years and participated in an auto dealertraining program for two years. After retiring from basketball in 1978, Bing was offered a public relations job at Paragon Steel in Detroit, but he declined the job when he realized the company wanted to hire him simply because of his fame. Instead, he entered a management-training program at Paragon. After two years he started his own steel service company, Bing Steel, which cut steel to size for the auto industry.

BATTLED RECESSION AND PREJUDICE

Bing started his company in the middle of one of the worst recessions in the steel industry. He battled not only the economy but also prejudice from people who did not believe that a black athlete could succeed in business. He told Black Enterprise magazine, "As a black with the stigma of being an ex-jock, the toughest thing for me was getting people to realize I had the intellect to get things done and that I was serious about making the leap from athletics to business" (June 1998).

Bing Steel lost $90,000 in its first six months, but after landing a contract with General Motors, the business turned around. It became profitable within two years, and by 1990 sales had reached $61 million. In order to insulate his company from the ups and downs of the steel industry, Bing diversified by starting four other automotive supply companies. Collectively, the five companies are known as the Bing Group. Four of the five companies are headquartered on a 30-acre campus in Detroit's empowerment zone, where property was inexpensive. In the early years Bing did a lot of the building renovation himself, to help contain costs.

LESSONS FROM THE BASKETBALL COURT

The soft-spoken Bing credited basketball for teaching him the discipline and competitiveness that helped him succeed in business. Teamwork was another aspect of Bing's management style that carried over from athletics. He had a reputation for taking good care of his employees. As he once put it, "It doesn't matter if you're the executive vice-president of Bing Steel or one of my hourly workers, you're going to get respect from me. Team effort is important here. We all work together to get the job done" (Black Enterprise, January 1985).

Lear's CEO, Kenneth Way, who entered into a joint venture with the Bing Group to produce auto seating, praised Bing's character. Bing has "always been an individual of very high integrity and character," he said. "You can trust him and trust that he has the business experience and track record to make an operation work" (Black Enterprise, June 1998).

Bing also earned the respect of General Motors, which named the Bing Group Supplier of the Year in 1997, 2002, and 2003. When the auto supplier's quality declined during the late 1990s, GM suggested improvements. The Bing Group rose to the challenge, and defects per million parts dropped from 1,200 to 17 in just two years.

DEDICATED TO DETROIT

Giving back was an important principle of Dave Bing's. He served on the boards of several civic and charitable organizations and was a benefactor of Detroit schools. He felt strongly about improving the city of Detroit and creating employment opportunities for African Americans. Frustrated at not being able to find qualified employees, Bing could have moved his company out of Detroit. Instead, he partnered with Ford (his biggest customer) to build a $4 million training facility for minority workers in Detroit in 1999. Eighty percent of the Bing Group's workforce was African American in the early 2000s.

The center taught workers the technology they needed to work in a manufacturing facility and the importance of good work habits. During their first three months, workers who missed work without calling in or who were late four times were fired. Those who met Bing's high standards were rewarded. Bing always paid his workers above the minimum wage, and managers received equity in as little as three years. Bing told Forbes, "It's a very strong feeling walking around the plant and seeing the faces of people everybody else quit on" (September 18, 2000).

In 2002 the Bing Group's sales totaled $344 million, and the company had a staff of 1,120. It was ranked seventh on Black Enterprise 's list of the top black-owned businesses. In 2003 Bing announced a plan to buy additional companies as a way to triple sales to $1 billion by 2008. A key to that growth, Bing told the Detroit News, is to change automaker's attitudes toward minority suppliers. "There was a small slice of the pie designated for minority businesses and that's not what we want. We want to compete for the whole pie," he said (August 26, 2003).

See also entry on The Bing Group in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

Garsten, Ed, "Bing Ties Success with Teamwork: Once-Struggling Firm Named Top GM Supplier for Second Year in a Row," Detroit News, August 26, 2003.

Gite, Lloyd, "Scoring with Steel," Black Enterprise, January 1985, pp. 6366.

Kellner, Tomas, "Rebound Man," Forbes, September 18, 2000, pp. 198200.

Smith, Eric L., "Motor City's Man of Steel," Black Enterprise, June 1998, pp. 124130.

Telander, Rick, "Life Lessons from a Man of Steel: Dave Bing Has Made the Leap from NBA Star to Successful Businessman," Sports Illustrated, August 19, 1991, pp. 4851.

Barbara Koch

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Koch, Barbara. "Bing, Dave 1943–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 25 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Koch, Barbara. "Bing, Dave 1943–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 25, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500061.html

Koch, Barbara. "Bing, Dave 1943–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Retrieved May 25, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500061.html

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