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Non Traditional Businesses
 On the Road To Success

BKM Resources, Inc. Global Chemicals
Chemical Industry----Holmdel, New Jersey

By Marc´ia Riley-Elliott, Ph.D.

A Humble Beginning

After twenty years of employment in the chemical industry, Reche´ Kirkland started BKM as a one-person operation in 1986 with a Rent-A-Wreck car and one used answering machine.  Since then this multi-million dollar company has grown to a staff of fifteen and persistently uses creative solutions to overcome adversities.  

Pictured Reche' Kirkland


According to Kirkland, being in a non-traditional industry as a minority firm, BKM has endured limited business opportunities due to misguided stereotypes, yet the company has expanded its customer base through aggressive performance initiatives and creative marketing solutions.  Racial barriers and other economic disparities inhibit a company’s ability to fully compete in the marketplace – especially in a non-traditional industry. 

A Determination to Succeed

Over the past ten years many chemical manufacturers and major corporations have been conducting a systematic reduction of authorized distributors.  As this streamlining process continues, the old adage of “last one in – first one out” has severely limited opportunities for minority firms.  Essentially, many doors have been closed since minority firms find it difficult to compete with the “good ole’ boys” network that operates multi-billion dollar distributorships and manufacturers.  Nonetheless, BKM had the foresight to overcome these barriers and sustain its ability to grow by forming alliances with suppliers and concentrating on each customer’s specific needs.  

From having limited access to operating capital from banking institutions to having to accept an exiguous supply request in order to just “get our foot in the door”; these and other challenges have forced BKM to constantly prove itself.  However, since their focus is to be good – not big; they have persistently developed creative approaches that ensure success as a viable business entity in this vast complex market.

A Targeted Market

When the business started, BKM carefully selected its customer base: Fortune 500 companies.  Not only because Kirkland had enormous experience with this market, but because he felt that the high value-added demands of delivery and performance required by these companies provided a “niche” that he knew BKM could successfully fulfill.  Therefore BKM focuses on Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.A. as well as tackles the challenges of international sales and foreign buys.  


  A Viable Business Entity

Not only has BKM secured its niche in this non-traditional market by providing chemical products (raw materials) and chemical management services to eighteen distinct industries worldwide, it has also made significant contributions to the community.

The company has intentionally focused its community efforts to impact a range of ages (from elementary children to adults) and diverse ethnic groups.  Among many charitable activities, BKM purchased and disseminated NACD (National Association of Chemical Distributors) science kits to elementary schools to educate students on the benefits of chemistry at an early age.  They also provide educational pamphlets to local schools and churches on household chemical safety, uses and proper disposal.  And BKM continues to support non-profit organizations through financial contributions and the donation of staff time.

An Evolution of Success

In spite of the adversities, competition, racial barriers and stringent regulatory requirements, BKM has consistently

demonstrated a “win-win” approach, viz:

            • meeting delivery timelines

            • providing “tailored”

              management services and

              tactical purchasing

            • ensuring quality products

            • offering competitive prices


The company provides ongoing training for its staff and maintains active involvement with professional organizations in the chemical industry.  Recently BKM achieved ISO 9002 certification, which is no easy process for any size business.  And they proudly demonstrate their corporate motto:  “Our job is to make your job easier.”

According to membership data from the National Minority Supplier Development Council, BKM is one of thirteen recognizable African American firms in this industry.  Yet they have developed one of the highest reputations in the business and achieved success in spite of the odds.

When asked what one must do in order to survive and succeed in a non-traditional business, Kirkland said,

            • “implement a viable customer needs focused                              action plan,

            • “be flexible to customer and industry changes,

            • “allow employees to become stakeholders  in the

               business growth,

            • “stay abreast of technology that enhances your

              business operations,

            • “continuously look for creative solutions

            • “and above all – be persistent!!”


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