Former superstar athlete is a Sysco diverse supplier

Bo Jackson — yes, that Bo Jackson — could be a poster child for articulating the value of corporate supplier diversity.

The former two-sport superstar professional athlete and celebrity turned business owner is more than happy to be able to explain the significance of what it means to be a minority supplier, given his longtime supply chain contributions to companies like Sysco Corp., the world’s largest food service distributor.

Jackson runs Jackson & Partners LLC as founder and chairman from its Naperville, Illinois, corporate headquarters. His company operates several distinct lines of businesses, including food service.

For Sysco, Jackson & Partners supplies an assortment of signature foods to the food service giant’s Buckhead Pride™ division, including his “Bo’s Burger” beef patties. His burgers also are served on the concession menu of the Clinton LumberKings, the minor league baseball club in Clinton, Iowa, along with numerous other minor league teams currently in conversation to be carried.

Two other product lines include his “World Series” of global cuisine products — which markets authentic and highly flavored meat and other dishes from recipes around the world — and his line of healthy, plant-based foods.

In the beverage category, Jackson has a variety pack of hydration drink mixes – aptly called BO 3.0 – that offer a diverse selection of natural flavors and vital nutrients, curated to bolster cardio, joint and overall wellness support.


Bo knows quality food

Why food service after such a sterling sports career in pro football and major league baseball? Jackson – whose birth name is Vincent Edward Jackson — said that growing up in a family of 10 in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, he developed a love for food and cooking from his mother’s kitchen. That grew over the years and now signifies the core of his business brand.

“My goal is to do one thing when my day is done, and that is to have my end user — who is that customer — to walk up and say, ‘I tried your product, and I think it is fantastic!’ That’s all,” he said. “This isn’t about dollars or putting my name out there or anything like that. This is about putting out a quality product that my end user will continue to purchase.”

Jackson & Partners has served as a Sysco supplier off and on since the late 1990s-early 2000s, Jackson said, but that recognition as a diverse supplier has never been better within the company’s global supply chain since a few years ago when it embarked on a focused companywide strategy to enhance diversity and inclusion initiatives, including supplier diversity.

He points to the leadership of Adrienne C. Trimble, the former president, and CEO of National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. (NMSDC). She joined Sysco in March 2021 as vice president and chief diversity & culture officer and has been a driving force for improvement in that arena. He said that having someone like her spearheading the company’s diversity and inclusion program affords him the opportunity “to sit at the table with someone who looks like me.”

Darnell Greene, Sysco’s director of supplier diversity, said “Supplier inclusion isn’t about exclusivity; it’s about creating a diverse ecosystem where every supplier has the opportunity to thrive. Like Bo Jackson’s dedication to sports and business, it’s about ensuring that every supplier gets their rightful seat at the table of opportunity.”

Jackson said, “Sysco has created an initiative to improve the diversity side of its business, and it’s been good for everyone — not only for me as a minority business owner, but it is also good for Sysco.”

But he said his company’s embrace by Sysco and other major corporations doesn’t mean getting a free ride in business, as the test for smaller suppliers is always whether they can meet the scale large companies require.

“The biggest challenge is convincing the large companies you are doing business with that you can keep up,” Jackson said. “For any small business, the first thing a large company such as Sysco is going to do is see if you can keep up with the supply and demand.”

For him, winning business is not as easy as the theme of his wildly popular “Bo Knows” Nike cross trainer shoe marketing campaign in 1989 and 1990 that saw him take up sports and other endeavors besides football and baseball — tennis, golf, luge, auto racing, ice hockey and playing blues music with guitarist and singer Bo Diddley.

Jackson said he approaches business opportunities with much of the same discipline he learned from sports — “to have all my ducks in a row.” When he meets with corporate procurement officials, he is sure to look them square in the eye to let them know he is serious about the meeting and serious about being a part of their team, he said.

“At the end of the day, I want people to treat me like I treat them — and that is with the utmost respect,” he said. “If you treat people like you want to be treated, then everything will go smoothly.”

Small minority-owned firms, Jackson said, must work harder “just to stay in the ballpark.” Thus, supplier-diversity initiatives are vital to getting that work to pay off by getting them in the supply-chain door.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially taxing on firms like his in food service, he added, given that virtual meetings and events have lessened the need for such services.

“It is an uphill climb. People have gotten used to working remotely. They don’t sit down and have those meetings that they used to have in person,” Jackson said. “We have to work hard from a diversity standpoint because most of us are small businesses. Instead of us just working twice as hard, we have to put in triple the amount of work now.”


Bo knows business diversity

Having reached age 61 with two grandchildren, he said he is intent on leaving a legacy in business just as he did in sports. Part of that is ensuring his business interests are diversified.

In October 2023, Jackson announced a partnership with Massage Heights® IP LLC, a San Antonio, Texas, spa franchise, to promote pain relief products through Promise Nutraceuticals, a cause-driven company he co-founded in 2020.

He also has operated Jackson Packaging LLC since 2022, a third-party logistics company with a nearly 160,000-square foot facility in Alabama, specializing in warehousing, inventory management and last-mile delivery of packaging materials and products. And he is in business with a company called Colgan Carp Solutions LLC of Aurora, Kentucky, which seeks to rid lake river systems of the Asian carp, an invasive fish species of fish.

And yet another company, Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports, builds sports complexes where athletes living in cold-weather climates can train in indoor facilities.

Jackson has three children and said one day he wants them to succeed him in business when he retires and steps away.

 “I want to look back and say that was a wonderful ride. We did everything right,” he said. “Now I am going to turn the keys over to [his children and grandchildren], and you make sure that you do everything right.”


To learn more about Jackson & Partners, visit

To learn more about Sysco, visit

To read MBN USA Vol. 1 2024, click here.


Bo Jackson Jackson and Partners Sysco Corp. minority supplier Jackson & Partners LLC Buckhead Pride™ “Bo’s Burger” beef BO 3.0 Vincent Edward Jackson Adrienne C. Trimble National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. Darnell Greene “Bo Knows”

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