I’ve always felt that the purpose of life is to evolve and create growth opportunities for both myself and for others. The efforts we make towards achieving dreams—ignoring naysayers, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, thinking outside the box, believing in yourself—have one major requirement in common: pushing past fear. In fact, the negativity of naysayers often acts as the premium gas that motivates me to do my research, ensure I always have a strong base of knowledge, challenge myself to be constantly learning, work with an open mind, and never stop listening.
Embrace Life’s Journey
The essential elements of life include home life, children, family and work. The continual struggle to create work/home integration is forever challenging and forever changing. I committed myself from the onset to be the best wife and mom that I could be, all while continuously learning and practicing law. More importantly, I wanted to be an example to my children. I always wanted to show them that love, hard work, compassion for others and true commitment to your priorities can successfully co-exist, as my parents taught me. In addition to instilling in me the importance of treating others with kindness and respect, they also encouraged me to build my confidence, set out with ambition, and develop a work ethic that they knew would be important in my life’s journey.
My first job out of law school was at a small law firm that did a lot of bankruptcy work for municipalities and in the automotive industry. It was there that I started learning bankruptcy law through hands-on experience. I had my first son, Kirk, and then my second, son Kyle, 4 years later. I realized at that time that working 60 hours each week for someone else in the traditional office environment was not my vision to best integrate my work/home balance.
So I started my own law practice by taking on criminal and probate assignment work through the courts in addition to bankruptcy law, which I already knew well. In this chapter of my life, I was again pushing through the fear of the unknown, learning a totally different sector of the law, and moving towards my quest to create my own journey. During school hours I would appear in court for court appearances and would later pick up my kids from school. We did homework, played, and had dinner together each night. I would put them to bed and then work until 2am developing reports, drafting motions, and preparing for trials. The next day, I would wake up and do it all over again. During that time, I remember developing the skills of thinking fast on my feet and learning to strongly articulate my thoughts and feelings, all the while evolving and honing my skills and opinions. I learned that each new chapter of life would continue to pose different challenges and provide different perspectives.
Work Towards a Forever-Changing World
In the 1990s, Janet Reno was the U.S. Attorney General yet there were hardly any women in the US Trustees Offices and few Black females in these positions in the entire nation. Kudos to Janet Reno for seeing the need and the opportunity to make a change and to create a more equitable and inclusive membership for the Trustee panel. There were five open positions for Chapter 7 Trustees in the Eastern District of Michigan and I knew that I had the knowledge base and the experience needed to do the work, so I applied.
Fast-forward to February 1999. After multiple interviews, I was appointed as a panel Trustee by the US Trustees Offices, a component of the Department of Justice, to serve in this position. To further enhance my need to mentor and teach others, I became an adjunct professor teaching bankruptcy law at a local law school. This additional position allowed me to give back and teach something that I was very passionate about to young, eager-to-learn students. It was here, while a professor, that I realized how very important perspective is in our lives. New experiences create personal growth.
In addition to running and growing SIS, I still do trustee work today. This work gives me an amazing perspective on business—what works, what doesn’t work, and the best ways to run a business. Every day I challenge myself to constantly work on becoming my best self, learn from each moment, pick up new skills, and look at situations from new perspectives.
Challenge Yourself and Be Your Own Mentor
Soon after my divorce, I realized the absolute need, as a single mom, to create financial longevity and stability for my children, particularly for my special needs son. My law practice and Chapter 7 Panel Trustee positions were not something I could pass on to them; however, creating a company and a legacy for my children was, and it became a passion and my vision. Once again, I had to push back the fear of the unknown. I wanted to establish a business in an industry that weathered storms and would always be necessary. Through intense research and networking, I realized that service work, particularly waste management, janitorial services, and industrial cleaning were mainstays. These service industries have seen a steady, substantial gain in both revenue and the need for each in facility maintenance services. I saw an opportunity.
I created a business plan and incorporated Superior Innovative Solutions, LLC (“SIS”) in 2018. I started focusing on automotive work but quickly branched out to other industries including engineering firms, construction firms, utility companies, hospitals, municipalities and the US government. I am strongly committed to SIS becoming a premiere, one-stop shop for a company’s facility maintenance needs. I believe that building this business will not only provide a legacy for my kids, but will also allow for my sons to do things their own way. I want to challenge women to think outside of the traditional box. I am impelled to undertake endeavors knowing that I’m working for more than just myself.
Push Past Fear and Reach the Destination Your Past has Led You To
Are there many women who do what I do? No. There are still men who do not see my intense commitment to giving superior, safe and on-time solutions with a talented team of experts. Have I received some not-so-nice comments? Absolutely. But I am living proof that women can thrive in different industries and different positions in different chapters of their lives, and that seeing opportunities from new perspectives can build entire businesses. Maybe even empires!
Wendy Turner Miller is an entrepreneur, attorney, adjunct bankruptcy law professor, Chapter 7 United States Bankruptcy Trustee for the Eastern District of Michigan, and servant leader who is committed to superior business and community service, all the while advocating for women’s growth in leadership and development. She received her undergraduate Degree at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and her Juris Doctorate at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC.
She currently services as the President and CEO of Superior Innovative Solutions, LLC, (“SIS”), which company, with its roots in the automotive arena, specializes in industrial cleaning, COVID-19 disinfecting and cleaning, janitorial services, hydro-blasting, vac truck services, and waste management.
SIS is a certified, 100 percent minority/woman owned and operated business committed to exceeding the expectations of our customers with superior, innovative, safe and time driver work product and service to each of our private, public and municipal clients.
Wendy is also an owner of Blue Springs Metals, LLC, in Blue Springs, MS, and Georgetown Metal Processing, LLC, in Georgetown, KY, both ventures with Toyota Tsusho America, which involve blanking and slitting steel at the Mississippi plant and aluminum on the Kentucky facility.
Wendy further serves as a Chapter 7 US Bankruptcy Trustee since 1999, hearing over 2,500 cases per year, a job that involves the discovery of undisclosed assets, the liquidation of assets, and the payment of funds to creditors.
She has provided legal services, specifically Bankruptcy Law assistance through her law firm, Law Offices of Wendy Turner Lewis, PLLC, representing debtors, creditors and financial restructuring clients since 1995.
She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Renaissance (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, National Associations of Bankruptcy Trustees, National Bar Association, and The Wolverine Bar Association.