Matrix Human Services is known across Detroit for a large variety of different human service programs and depending on who you talk to, you may get a different answer. Many parents with young children might mention our Head Start Program, the largest in the city. Youth in middle school and high school might mention our after school programs. Some families may have bought a house thanks to our housing counseling services or perhaps a senior living at home would say our Healthy Senior Living Initiative has helped them live a healthier life.
But one aspect about Matrix Human Services that gets overlooked is the investments made in local, minority owned businesses. In 2021, Matrix spent one million dollars with local, Black and Hispanic owned businesses. The large majority of the money was spent on building renovations across 16 Head Start Centers throughout Detroit owned by Matrix Human Services. COVID was the perfect time to upgrade facilities and thankfully, Matrix had the funding to do so.
One of the many businesses that benefitted from these dollars was Nail-Rite Construction Company, one of the few Black-owned and woman-owned construction businesses in the state of Michigan, owned by Ms. Kimle Nailer.
— Kimle Nailer, Owner of Nail-Rite Construction Company
“Anything for commercial office, retail space we do. For Matrix… we did the computer lab at [The Matrix Center], we put an acoustic ceiling in. We put in the cabinets in your commercial kitchen at Care Village Center. We’ve done Salem Head Start Center, put new cabinets in some of the classrooms and painted…”
The Nail-Rite Construction company mostly handles interior finishing and roof repair with a focus on commercial buildings. Like most businesses, Ms. Nailer took a hit during COVID, but Matrix Human Services was able to hire her during this critical time.
“We got slapped in the face a little bit during 2020 but came back last year and thanks to Matrix, they were very instrumental. They helped us to ramp up with Care Village [Head Start Center], that was a sizable project, and then we were able to do some other projects to get us back, some residential work.”
In a unique twist of fate or circumstances, Ms. Nailer already had a working relationship with Matrix Human Services President & CEO, Mr. Brad Coulter, before she ever entered the construction business. She spent years as a business consultant with Ford Motor Company where she helped guide their community investments into local non-profits including Matrix Human Services. Eventually, she got tired of the nine-to-five lifestyle and was ready to become an entrepreneur.
“I was not excited doing a nine to five and I said, ‘well, I’m gonna go for it’, and I did and I haven’t looked back since… In 2016, I was introduced to the National Association of Black Women in Construction and in 2018, I had made so much contribution as a Committee Chair for their operations, I became The National President. I helped build a Detroit Chapter here and I was National President until this past January when we voted in a new president, because I had some more work to do…” said Ms. Nailer with a laugh.
The relationship between Nail-Rite Construction Company and Matrix Human Services has continued to deepen after Ms. Nailer decided to rent space for her business in the same community center she helped renovate in 2018, The Matrix Center. The Matrix Center is a 60,000 sq. ft. community center on Detroit’s East Side, Osborn Neighborhood, providing a safe space for food distributions, community events, resources, and more in one of Detroit’s most impoverished zip codes. The Matrix Center went through its own massive renovation project in 2021, see the story here.
“It’s been a blessed time. I came out of the gate just to serve and… I really believe this industry can be reparations for Black communities. The wages and the wealth that comes from building, it touches every industry. Education with universities, schools, buildings, medical with hospitals, facilities, and industrial parks. Everything is touched by construction. And the least amount of education is provided about this industry… And The National Association of Black Women in Construction focuses on educating the next generation into this industry. So that’s been my driving force.”