Davis Motor Sales
Ed Davis, on December 4, 1939, opened Davis Motor Sale and Service dealership and a year later, in 1940, became the first black new-car dealership in the United States when he received a Studebaker franchise. Just a year prior, in 1939, Davis was a car salesman at a white owned dealership in Highland Park. Davis was barred from being on the showroom floor with the other white salesmen and instead was put in a secluded storage area that he converted into an office. Davis ensured black customers' car needs were met with fairness, dignity, and respect. As a result, when he launched his dealership, he had a loyal following of customers. Davis Motor Sales and Service was located at 421-37 East Vernor.
Davis went on to accomplish many achievements throughout his life. In 1979, he wrote an autobiography called, One Man's Way. The book details his fascinating life and offers relevant advice and insight on a number of topics.
In his autobiography, Davis tells of a time when he joined the Detroit Sales Executive Club at the suggestion of a friend. He sent his application in and was accepted. The club did not know he was black. When he attended his first meeting at the Statler Hotel, he was told, "...You won't be comfortable here. We'll refund your money. This was a mistake. We don't have any colored people in the organization." The next day, the club president and the membership chairman visited him at his dealership. They attempted to return his dues check and when he refuse to take it, they told him his membership would not be renewed the following year. Despite this, Davis continued to go to the club's meetings where he learned and networked with other businessmen. See the next three pages from Davis' book concerning the incident. Forty plus years later, his words and wisdom still resonate.