Going into 2020, local businessman James V. Page Jr. was gearing up for all eyes to be on Page After Page Business Systems, Inc. (dba Page Global TM) as a national sponsor and the official Office Equipment, IT Solutions Provider, Copier and printing solutions of the 140th National Baptist Convention (NBC).

The largest Black Baptist convention, which represents millions of members, was set for September at the Gaylord National Resort in Maryland primed to bring unprecedented exposure for Page’s company.

“In 2018, I was approached by Mr. Melvin Forbes representing the NBC for Pastor Charles McNeill heading up the responsibility of orchestrating the entire event,” Page said. “Mr. Forbes said to me Pastor McNeill is looking to have several African American-owned businesses be the majority of the host sponsors for the first time in its history. He said there is Xerox, Canon, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, but we want to put our dollars behind African American businesses.”

Page said he committed almost a quarter-million dollars in sponsorship knowing that his business would receive advertising and marketing that many Black-owned businesses don’t get their fair share of primarily due to a lack of finances.

“So I’m getting in position in 2018 and 2019. I’m getting ready to roll out everything that we are supposed to do, the staff, advertising paraphernalia, the bells, the whistles, the tents and then the pandemic hits in March 2020 — and the dream of a million-dollar opportunity goes down the tube,” he said.

Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and Jimi Page, president and CEO of Page Global, display the proclamation recognizing Page Global as an official provider for National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (Courtesy photo)
Jerry Young, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and Jimi Page, president and CEO of Page Global, display the proclamation recognizing Page Global as an official provider for National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. (Courtesy photo)

With the onslaught of COVID-19 and the canceling or going virtual of such large gatherings like the NBC, the business veteran says he knew he had to pivot, much like 29 years before when he was a father of five, in the Navy with four jobs and still not making ends meet.

“I left the military because I had my fifth child by the time, I was 23 and the money wasn’t adding up,” Page said. “At that point, I started realizing that I wanted to be a leader, manager of people, but with no degree, I found out that wasn’t happening. The only place that I would be considered on equal footing as a leader, president or a manager was to go into sales.”

Page then pivoted to a job at Minolta Corporation, a copier business solutions and technology company.

“I found out that in sales, in less than a month, I was making more money than in all four of those jobs including IBM,” he said.

So when COVID-19 hit, Page pulled on his prior pivoting experience to deal with the new unforeseen challenges.

He says he knew that there was a message in the pandemic and its impact on his business.

“What I pivoted on was not the fact that I lost a million-dollar opportunity, but what is God trying to tell me? Because sometimes what you think are failures turn into your successes,” he said.

Page After Page was expecting a threefold return on its investment.

They would for the first time be a viable source for over nine million members of the National Baptist Community. Second, they would get notoriety for their name being omnipresent at the MGM Grand and National Harbor. Third, they would provide the transportation for the convention VIPs, and there was going to be a banquet hall specially designed with their equipment.

Then there was also the political element with local mayors from D.C., Maryland and Virginia. And the national look with political candidates stopping into the convention looking to attract votes before the November election.

Page says the possibilities were endless, but instead of his legal counsel and board members pressuring him to demand that the organization return the company’s money back, he decided to do something different.

“I wanted to do good inside of the Baptist community,” Page said. “First, with my lifelong friend and role model Mr. Melvin Forbes; next, the energetic and powerful leader for the DMV NBC-Baptist region and community pastor, Charles McNeil. My thought was to let the donation stay put in the hand of two people that have given me an opportunity of a lifetime and stay the course. As an African American business, there are times that a blessing can be deferred but it does not mean it has been denied.”

While the coronavirus tempered a major opportunity with the convention into small sponsorships, it hasn’t had much of an impact on Page After Page’s bottom line or its 12 employees and over 40 contractors says its founder and president.

“I didn’t have to lay off or fire anyone,” Page said. “My approach has always been to be half commercial and half government. The government like the FBI, the Justice Department and the [D.C. Public Library] are still paying us, even though the commercial side has suffered.”

Page says he in large part has been able to stay afloat due to the knowledge gained from past mistakes like owing the IRS over $1 million and coming razor close to filing bankruptcy.

These days even in a pandemic he knows how to navigate through bumpy waves.

“One thing I did was I made an internal commitment to pay back all of the money I owed to the IRS,” he said. “I’m so proud today that that’s been my storyboard…that I decided not to file for bankruptcy and I was able to pay back every penny.

“It’s so freeing now,” he said.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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