William F. Pickard, PhD

Executive Chairman of GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management

William F. Pickard, PhD is founder and chairman of GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, a Black Enterprise Top 100 industrial/service company. GAA was distinguished as the first minority-owned vendor group to supply plastic parts to Detroit’s “Big 3” automakers.


Pickard’s 46-year entrepreneurial career began in 1971 when the Flint, Michigan native established himself as a McDonald’s group franchisee in Detroit, an opportunity born during a conversation with a company executive. Pickard says it was another conversation – this one with Henry Ford II – that steered him away from his investments in auto dealerships and towards those with automotive supply-chain opportunities.


In 1989, Pickard founded an automotive manufacturing company and grew it into Global Automotive Alliance – a consolidation of logistics and manufacturing companies with more than half a billion dollars in sales, and eight plants in the U.S. and Canada.

GAA became the first minority-owned group of tier-one and tier-two suppliers of plastic parts to the top three U.S. automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler. GAA has also supplied other global giants such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Starbucks, Home Depot and Merck Pharmaceuticals.


The man who measures his success by the number of people he has taught, mentored and championed, Pickard prepared himself to be a power broker by focusing first on his formal education. He began at Flint Mott College, earning an associate’s degree in 1962; earned a bachelor of science from Western Michigan University in 1964; an MSW from the University of Michigan in 1965; and culminated with an earned PhD from The Ohio State University, in 1971.

He also holds an honorary doctorate in business administration from Cleary College, awarded in 1980.

Pickard was the first chairman of the African Development Foundation, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Under President George Bush he was appointed to The National Advisory Committee on Trade Policy Negotiations in 1990 and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board-Indianapolis Bank in Indiana in 1991.


In 2001, The Detroit News named Pickard a Michiganian of the Year for his business success, civic leadership and philanthropy. The William F. Pickard Living Center at Grand Valley State University, where he served on the board for 11 years, is named in his honor – and the Dr. William F. Pickard Business Scholarship supports first-generation students at the institution.

Pickard has also served the community on numerous business and non-profit boards including Asset Acceptance Capital Corporation, Michigan National Bank, LaSalle Bank, Business Leaders for Michigan, National Urban League, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce.