Mekala Seme Mekala Seme
Intern, Communications


February 27, 2024


For over 21 years, Hans Edwards and his managing partner and co-founder Tony Hill have created a space where community flourishes. With a commitment to quality furnishings and outstanding service, Edwards & Hill Office Furniture is an established, trusted partner for clients across the U.S. From offices to schools and from hotels to casinos, Edwards & Hill ensures that every work environment fosters growth and collaboration.

In honor of Black History Month, we asked Black founders in the business community about their businesses and paths to entrepreneurship. We spoke with Edwards about his career path and the positive impact he is making in his community. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Tell us about your business. How do you interact with and positively contribute to your community?

Edwards & Hill Office Furniture specializes in the sale and installation of furniture for diverse sectors, including offices, schools, labs, hospitality, hotels, healthcare, casinos, and control centers. Our comprehensive services encompass interior design, moving, warehousing, project management, procurement, signage and wayfinding, sound masking, audio/visual equipment, and IT products/services. With a commitment to excellence, we deliver tailored solutions for functional and aesthetically pleasing spaces.

Our dedication extends beyond business transactions; we actively engage with and enrich the communities we operate in through various charitable initiatives and mentorship programs. At the core of our ethos lies the belief in collective responsibility, recognizing that with privilege comes the duty to uplift others. We embrace the notion of unity, understanding that by supporting one another, we strengthen the fabric of our society.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month serves as an annual reminder not only to honor the significant contributions of Black individuals throughout history but also to evaluate our own efforts in fostering equity and inclusion. Personally, we mark this occasion by engaging in meaningful activities such as mentoring at-risk youth, collaborating with small Black-owned businesses, and prioritizing local hiring initiatives. It's a time for introspection and action and challenging ourselves to be agents of positive change in our communities every day.

What are your biggest challenges as a small business owner?

As small business owners, we encounter familiar hurdles such as financing, cash flow management, recruitment, and tax obligations. However, compounded with these challenges are persistent racial biases that continue to permeate various aspects of society. Whether it's navigating unequal access to resources or confronting biases in interactions with institutions, Black-owned businesses often contend with additional obstacles on their entrepreneurial journey.

What’s one thing people can do to show their support for Black-owned small businesses this month and year-round?

One impactful way to show support for Black-owned small businesses is by actively confronting and dismantling systemic biases. By advocating for equitable opportunities and fostering an environment of inclusivity, we create pathways for success that benefit everyone. Recognizing that prosperity is not a zero-sum game but rather a collective endeavor, we can cultivate a culture where all entrepreneurs, regardless of race or background, can thrive.

Ultimately, by amplifying the voices and contributions of Black business owners, we enrich our communities and propel economic growth for the betterment of society.

About the authors

Mekala Seme

Mekala Seme