Accelerated Laboratory Logistics, a 101-year-old Black-owned business, has created the Columbus Museum of African-American History and Culture, it announced during a celebration of its centennial Friday.
Accelerated Laboratory, whose headquarters sits on an 8-acre lot at 4001 Refugee Road, has been owned and operated by the same family for a century. Todd Wilson, its CEO, is the fourth generation of owners for the company, which was founded by his grandfather, Clarence Jacobs, as Jacobs Moving and Storage.
The company plans to open the museum in 2024. Wilson is raising money for the museum, which will operate as a nonprofit organization. He said he’s counting on support from city and community leaders, as the project will create jobs and revenue for the city.
Accelerated Laboratory Logistics was honored June 10 with a marker presented by the Ohio History Connection for its longevity in the moving business.
In attendance at the celebration were city leaders, including Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Terri Jamison, along with Wilson’s 101-year-old aunt, Eleanore Jacobs Warfield, born the same year as the founding of the company. Warfield gave a brief family history, noting in anecdotes that her father, Clarence Jacobs, was a family man and was the type of man to do business with a handshake.
Accelerated Laboratory Logistics began as residential moving company Jacobs Moving and Storage in 1921 before eventually moving to commercial moving for medical companies. In 1990, when Wilson took the company on, it rebranded as Accelerated Laboratory Logistics and began moving research laboratories for clients nationwide. Today, the company’s major contracts include NASA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wilson said being a part of a 100-year legacy is “amazing and humbling.”
“It’s been wonderful. [But] it’s tough running a business,” Wilson said. Wilson noted that the pandemic was challenging for the company, with most medical centers on a hiring freeze early on. “Our business declined. We probably had a 25% drop in business,” said Wilson.
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The company obtained a Paycheck Protection Program loan from the federal government and a rebate from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which kept it from having to lay off any employees.
The company has since recovered and recently picked up contracts to move facilities for universities and state agencies in Florida, as well as Virginia Commonwealth University and Rice University in Houston, Texas.
The art and historical pieces to be featured at the upcoming Columbus Museum of African-American History and Culture come from Wilson’s collection, which includes memorabilia from his family and items he has acquired via auction, donations and during his travels across the country over the last 30 years.
A preview of the museum featured just a small portion of what’s to come, said Wilson. Among the pieces on display were artifacts from slavery through to the Jim Crow era, paintings of war battles featuring African Americans, historic family portraits, pre- and post-Civil War memorabilia, and more.
The two-story museum will take up 40,000 square feet of Accelerated Laboratory’s 70,000-square-foot Southeast Side headquarters, which the company uses to house loan equipment for clients and other equipment and supplies.
Wilson’s collection currently has 2,200 items, but he said he wants the museum to be in the ballpark of 10,000 pieces. He’s already been offered donations from residents and some African American fraternities and sororities, and is interested in items highlighting African American churches and organizations.
“A lot of people collect things, [but] they don’t have a location to store their items,” he said. “These items are vital and have a rich history.”
Wilson said he wanted to open a museum because, “I want to talk about amazing stories. We get bogged down by the same stories.”
Until his father told him he was a Tuskegee airman, Wilson said he didn’t know African Americans were active in the military. Now, he has several pieces highlighting African Americans serving in the military.
“If we don’t author our own story, it’ll get lost,” he said.
tmoorman@dispatch.com
@TaijuanNichole

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