Entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Jackson, dies at 70

Posted online 6/20/17 5:30p

Last updated 7/3/17 12:02p


LEXINGTON, KY – Henry Jackson, CEO of Millennium Steel had a long-distinguished career as a national and Central Kentucky businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist before his death June 20th at the age of 70.

“Henry was a man of vision and truly an inspiring entrepreneur. He set an example for many young leaders on drive and persistence. While he is gone, his legacy will live on,” said Nick Rowe, Senior Vice President, Southeast Division, American Water.

After his Army service and tours in Vietnam, Mr. Jackson graduated from DePaul University in 1974 with a Bachelor’s of Science and Commerce before earning an MBA from the University of Notre Dame in 1984.

Jackson moved from entry level Accounting to higher positions within Accounting and Management in Manufacturing to become a Financial Planning Manager then President of  the European Subsidiary of Clark, based in Lexington, KY during times of great racial discrimination in America according to his corporate website bio.

Lexington resident and local business owner Henry Jackson is CEO of two companies on the Black Enterprise 100 list. Photo credit: Business Lexington, 2009

As an entrepreneur, Jackson became CEO of Jackson Plastics Inc., a plastic injection molder in Nicholasville, Ky., and a Tier I and II supplier to Toyota before closing several years ago. He parlayed that relationship into a Minority Owned Joint Venture with Toyota Tsusho America Inc. called Millennium Steel Service, which is a Tier 1 Raw Material supplier to Toyota, manufacturing steel for automobiles.

“Henry was one of the most direct and clear minded executives I’ve ever met. He knew exactly what he wanted and was willing to do the work to get there. He was also gracious and charitable, and I could always depend on him to jump in to help others or share whatever he could to support a cause,” said Wil James, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. “Lexington is a better place because of Henry and due to him being such an integral supplier within the Toyota family, Toyota was surely blessed to have him, too. He will definitely be missed.”

In 2016, Millennium Steel Service, LLC in Princeton, Indiana was ranked No. 11 and Millennium Steel of Texas LP in San Antonio, TX ranked 16, ahead of TV One, LLC (No. 17) and Oprah’s Harpo Studios (No. 28).

President Barack Obama highlighted the Indiana Millennium Steel plant in 2014 for Manufacturing Day. His appearance highlighted the successful relationship between Millennium and Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

Mr. Jackson and his wife Andrea raised their three children, who are now adults, in Lexington and maintain a residence here and close ties to the community. Recently Jackson again partnered with Toyota Tsusho and Kirk Lewis, also a Black automotive supplier, to open Georgetown Metal which is an aluminum processing plant in Georgetown, KY.

Jackson’s civic involvement in the city of Lexington is immeasurable. He has served as a board member of the Blue Grass Airport Authority, the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, the University of Kentucky Business Partnership Foundation, the Chandler Medical Center, and the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees; and was also previously a Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, and a member of the University of Kentucky Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Systems.

Under Jackson’s leadership Millennium Steel Service has been a major sponsor of Lexington’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration.

State Rep. George Brown former co-chair of the King Day Celebration said, “Henry came through for us. He lead the effort to get others on board to sponsor the King Day Celebration.’’

“Henry was a person who saw the community as it was, but he also thought deeply about what it should be,’’ Brown said. “He was for Black people and for developing Black entrepreneurs and the development of a Black entrepreneurial class. He made a mark on Central Kentucky. It’s not a loss, he has left us so much.’’

Henry Jackson is survived by his wife Andrea, three children and several grandchildren.

A funeral was held for Mr. Jackson on Thursday, June 29 at Consolidated Baptist Church before his internment at Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

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