From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Burns, Tommie L., Jr.

(born: 1933  -  died: 2019) 

Tommie L. Burns, Jr. came to Louisville, KY, from Hinds, MS when he was 18 years old, taking a job as a molder at the American Standard plant. While still holding his day job, Burns began cleaning Bacon's department store at night, soon hiring a crew and cleaning all of the Bacon's stores in Shively (a west-end Louisville suburb). Burns eventually quit his day job, incorporating Burns Janitor Service in 1975. He continued to develop other businesses and by 1992, Burns Enterprises had revenues of $17 million. The company consisted of almost 500 employees in six businesses: janitor service, roller rink, chemical and supply, food marts, rigging, and packing, with operations in Kentucky, Maine, New York, Georgia, and Tennessee. In 1992, Burns was the 69-year-old chairman of T&WA Inc., a company that mounts tires and wheels for automakers. The company, then 7 years old, had about $500 million in revenues. In 2001, T&WA Inc. was selected as the Minority Business of the Year at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Annual Dinner. Tommie Burns, Jr. was the son of Tommie, Sr. and May Bertha Burns [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. Tommie L. Burns, Jr. died in Fort Worth, Texas. For more see T. R. Hill, "Sensible Chance Paid Off," Lexington Herald-Leader, 04/03/1994, Business section, p.3; R. Redding, "Entrepreneur 'Burns' up latest automotive niche. 'Janitor' lands $50 million assembly job at Toyota," (from 06/20/1997 print edition); and Y. Markstaff, "Wheeling Dealing," Courier-Journal, 09/16/2002, Business section, p. 01C. See also the Tommie L. Burns, Jr. obituary at Find A Grave.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source:
NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Burns, Tommie L., Jr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 29, 2020,

Last modified: 2020-08-12 14:41:03