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2013 Annual Black Excellence Awards Minority Business Honoree Cleo Adams

March 15, 2013
Cleo Adams

Cleo Adams
Adams Auto Body Shop

Very few people know at a young age what they want their life’s work to be and actually stick to it. But Cleo Adams doesn’t fit that mold. Cleo knew he wanted to learn a trade; and after a family member introduced him to auto body work, he was hooked and it became his life’s work.

Cleo was born in Lexington, MS; he graduated high school in Memphis, TN; and attended Stevenson Auto School in Kansas City, MO. Cleo had family in Milwaukee and decided to come here in 1959, where he started to work in a small autobody shop on 10th and North Avenue.

He also worked for American Motors but kept getting laid off and called back; so in 1966, he decided to go into business for himself, and Adams Auto Body was born. In 1970, he moved the shop to its current location at 2719 N. 5th Street, where he currently employs 6 people. At age 75, Cleo is active in the shop, making sure business is done right and customers are satisfied.

In his life, Cleo has made the most of opportunity by making a difference in the community. “In high school, everybody wants to be good at something. We come from a long line of educators and motivators that want to do better and that’s what I try to do – I want to do things better,” said Cleo.

Cleo has instilled a spirit of excellence and doing better in his children as well. He has 4 adult daughters and he also has a son. All of his children are successful, with career paths ranging from a school principal, an educator, and lawyer. His son is a student at Marquette University studying finance and helps his father out at the shop. He is also a member of New Testament Church on Milwaukee’s northwest side.