Also known as the “King of Chemicals,” according to Black Enterprise, Mays was the most successful Black businessman in Indiana and a leader in the chemical distribution industry.
His success is particularly remarkable because it came in a field where there typically aren’t many other African-American-owned businesses.
A native of Evansville, Ind., Mays built his business from the ground up and was a major influence as a businessman and philanthropist. Mays Chemical is now known around the world as a leader in chemical distribution. The small company Mays started now spans across the US and internationally in Puerto Rico and Mexico.
In 2010, Mays Chemical ranked 55th on the ICIS Top 100 Chemical Distributor’s list with a reported $172 million in sales. Today the company is ranked 16th on the Black Enterprise Industrial Service Companies list with $191.5 million in revenues this year.
“I started Mays Chemical in 1980 with $10,000, and it is now a leader in the chemical distribution industry,” Mays once told the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper.
Not only did he build his company to become one of the best chemical companies in the world and US, but he also gave back to the community as well.
More than $100,000 of his business’ profits are donated to charities annually, according to the New Pittsburgh Courier. In addition to being the first Black chairman of the board for the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, he was also the first Black chairman of the annual campaign for the United Way of Central Indiana.
“We’ve always been of the mindset that we want to give back to the community and back up our commitment with real dollars,” Mays told the Recorder.
The Recorder, the nation’s fourth-oldest Black newspaper that nearly went out of business, was purchased and saved by Mays. In a 2010 interview with the paper he said that he wanted to see the Recorder survive.
“The paper is still serving the community and doing quite well and we are very proud of that,” he said.
Mays is survived by his wife Dr. Rose Mays, retired associate dean of community affairs at Indiana University’s School of Nursing, daughters Kristin Mays-Corbitt, president of Mays Chemical, and Heather Mays-Wood, an educator, the Associated Press reported.