HIGHLAND PARK, MI—Howard Taylor Hicks, Sr., a longtime leader in the formative days of the bumper plating industry, passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at age 88.
Born in Tennessee, this longtime resident of the Detroit area endured a brief illness and hospitalization in Royal Oaks, Mi., before he succumbed to generally deteriorating health.
Howard, in the last decade and especially after the passing of his wife Jenolla in 2001, has split his time between the Detroit area in the summer months and Florida during the winter.
An avid golfer who got his first ever hole in one at age 84, Hicks was an astute businessman who after leaving service in the U.S. Army during World War II, became the co-founder and owner of Micro Platers and Paint, Inc. when he founded the company in 1948.
As much a businessman as he was, Howard’s greatest contribution to the industry—besides his support of the two main trade associations (BRANA and ABPA)—was in the encouragement he gave his children to follow their own paths to happiness.
Ironically, for all four that path eventually took them to the front door of Howard’s company when, in good time, they joined the ranks of the Micro family.
Although Kim Hicks, the oldest child, candidly admits that her journey in business was somewhat different. While born into the family business, Howard felt that a chrome plating business night not be the best environment for his daughter and encouraged her initially to go to law school.
Howard watched his oldest daughter successfully advance through the employment ranks of General Motors when, in 1991, he approached her and asked Kim to consider overseeing the Micro Rim division of the company which was starting its own production. Howard was moving Micro Rim into manufacturing after-market bumper covers, bus bumpers, wheel wells and OEM prototypes.
Meanwhile, Howard had the satisfaction of seeing his other children join the company in different capacities and positions of responsibility. And, when he was in town from the months of May through December each year, he would not only come into the office daily but go to all three plants each day.
Of course, that routine also allowed him to see his children. Tammy Packer oversees the human resources department as well as legal and accounting. John Hicks is in charge of Micro Platers, a crash parts distributor and chrome plater, as well as Advanced Pattern and Mold, an engineering and mold making company. Howard Hicks, Jr., oversees Micro Paint, a BASF paint jobber which Howard, Sr., started in 1983. Howard, the son, and his wife Missy also have a son, Taylor whose is also in the business and on the paint company payroll.
That division just opened new paint locations in Chicago, IL., and Grand Rapids, Mi., this month.
All divisions of the company are still family owned and the companies are ISO, CAPA and NSF certified. When Micro Rim qualified for CAPA certification, there was a press release which read in part, “Micro Rim’s decision to comply with CAPA’s comprehensive quality standards is a strong indication of their desire to build parts that meet the demands of today’s collision repairers, Complying with CAPA quality standards requires an attention to detail, understanding of the importance of fit and finish, and consistent manufacturing processes, all of which are clearly important to Micro Rim Corporation, a long-standing supplier of aftermarket crash parts.”
The company Howard, Sr., founded is still located in Highland Park directly across the street from the first production line for the Ford model T. For Howard, the location was a continuous reminder of just how far he had come. Besides competing in business, Hicks liked to race Go Karts and stock cars in his younger days. In fact, he hung around with the likes of Benny Parsons and Troy Ruttman, well-known racers, and he loved boating and NASCAR, almost as well as golf.
Remarked Kim Hicks, ”My dad enjoyed life to the end. He survived colon cancer in 1986 so he especially knew how valuable each and every day was.” She added, “He was out boating with the family on September 9th; it was just the way he would have wanted it.”
The family Howard Hicks founded continues to remain a considerable force in the industry with Kim Hicks recently attaining the position of ABPA Chairperson of the Board.
Funeral services were held at A.J. Desmond & Sons (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel) 32515 Woodward Ave. Royal Oak, MI, 48073, during the weekend of October 1st. Howard T. Hicks was preceded in death by his wife Jenolla as well as a granddaughter, Shannon Packer. He is survived by Kim Hicks and her husband, David Oser; oldest son John Hicks, daughter Tammy Packer and Howard T. Hicks, Jr., and his wife Missy. Additionally there are seven grandchildren—Alexander (Xan) Oser, 29;, Shelby Packer, 21; Billy Packer,20; Taylor Hicks, 23; Cody Hicks, 21; Mackenzie Hicks, 22; and Meghan Hicks, 20.