Owner Spotlight: Learn about Mike McKennyFEBRUARY 17, 2021| SpeedPro
“The best way to learn about each other is to listen,” says Mike McKenny, owner of SpeedPro St. Petersburg. During Black History Month, SpeedPro is highlighting Black owners’ backgrounds. McKenny, a Florida native, dives deeper into his heritage and why Black History Month is significant to him.
McKenny has a mix of many backgrounds. His mother is from Columbia and immigrated when she was 9-years-old, while his father is African American. His grandfather is Black and his grandmother is half Black.
“All this mix makes me, me!” McKenny says.
He and his wife, Holly, also add to that mix of backgrounds. She has a Polish and German background. Together, they have two daughters, Taylor and Ashli.
To McKenny, Black History Month is a special time to celebrate, honor and teach others about the past. However, when he was younger, he thought Februarys were more divisive than unifying. As he got older, he understood that there are differences in ethnicities and backgrounds that should be shed to light. He thinks famous Black stories must be shared and advises those to listen. But listen with patience, empathy, understanding, openness, compassion and love.
“There are so many stories to be told, if we don’t tell them, who is going to? There are so many Black icons whose stories are not household names. We all know figures like Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carter, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Hank Aaron, Martin Luther King and more recently John Lewis. But there are so many more like Bayard Rustin, Fannie Lou Hamer and Claudette Colvin that were just as inspirational and important,” said McKenny. “Those are the stories we need to continue to share. Because of what others have been through, overcome and accomplished we are here today, and it’s our responsibility to take those accomplishments, build on what the generation before us built and pass it on to the next. And each of us can be just as important a part of history on our own. We just have to do it, one person at a time.”
One of his favorite quotes happens to be from Martin Luther King, Jr. McKenny says he lives out a quote from King Jr.’s sermon, “Drum Major Instinct,” every single day — it’s actually on his wall at work.
“His sermon is definitely one of my favorites. In short, Dr. King says that we all have the instinct to lead. It’s natural to be the leader, at the head, the front of the line, or the drum major! But the true measure of someone who is great is that with the heart of a servant,” says McKenny. “My favorite quote from that sermon is, ‘everyone can be great because everyone can serve.’ No matter the role you have, if you work with a heart of a servant and you’re doing it for the betterment of others, you can be great. And that is the true measure of greatness — a servant’s heart.”
Today, McKenny leads his team with that same mindset. He has team members of various identities from ethnic backgrounds and members of the LGBTQ community. Because the Tampa Bay area having such a diverse and dynamic population, it’s easy to add diverse types of people to the team and feels very fortunate. He and the St. Pete team are actively involved with churches and an organization called One Community, a group that is looking to increase businesses that are Black-owned.
“I appreciate SpeedPro and giving us an opportunity to share,” said McKenny. “The more we learn about each other and hear each other’s stories, the more connected we are and the more we truly grow.”
To learn more about SpeedPro St. Pete, click here.