James R. Tolston, III was born in Detroit, Michigan but grew up as a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation from Walter F. George High School, he joined the United States Army enlisted corps specializing in satellite and telecommunication. He left active duty to attend Wayne State University in Michigan. After earning a bachelor of science degree in accounting, he returned to duty in the United States Army Reserves as an infantry officer. In 1997, after completing both the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Mr. Tolston ended his military career as a Captain promotable to Major.
In 1991, Mr. Tolston joined Corvus International, a global real estate development and management firm, as a real estate agent/broker and project manager. In this position, he was responsible for managing all stages of facility transactions and development, including property acquisition, scope of work and turnkey real estate solutions.
Mr. Tolston left Corvus International in 1995. In 1996, he founded The Janikmar Group, a small engineering company. Janikmar specialized in modeling, design and engineering of automotive brackets and weld guns specifically for General Motors Corporation. Mr. Tolston sold this company in late 1999.
In 1999, Mr. Tolston founded Empire Products, LLC. The company is a certified minority owned and operated manufacturer of robotic power and control cable assemblies, electrical mechanical devices and automotive wire harnesses. In addition to manufacturing, Empire is a distributor of bulk wire, cable, connectors, safety and automation products. Mr. Tolston grew Empire Products from $250,000 in sales in 1999 to over 24 million in sales in 2018. Empire continues to grow today.
Mr. Tolston acquired North American Assemblies and created Tolston Holdings, LLC on July 1, 2012. NAA, located near Florence, SC, is an assembler of all terrain vehicle components for Honda South Carolina. Products provided by NAA include tire and wheel assemblies, brake pedals, gear shift pedals and brake hub assemblies. Services provided by NAA include sorting, logistics and a wide range of inspections. Tolston Holdings is listed at number 58 in Black Enterprise Magazine’s Top 100 African-American owned companies in America.
James is an accomplished IRONMAN competitor, summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa, a member of various charitable and community organizations, as well as, a member and/or board member for a number of business organizations. He and wife Nikki have been married 28 years and are parents to Maranda, Mariah, Mirriam and Madison. Maranda and Mariah presently attend the University of Michigan. Mirriam and Madison presently attend The United States Military Academy at West Point.