Stories

Michael Perry Interview

De La Salle Collegiate | 03.02.22

Michael Perry

One of the causes we have always supported, and always will, is education. A few years ago, we were introduced to Michael Perry, a passionate and driven young man from Detroit who even at a young age embodied our core values. Our foundation was able to help sponsor Michael’s education at De La Salle Collegiate, where is currently a junior with his sights set on his post-graduation future. We recently sat down with him, and are excited to be able to share his story:

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood?

A: Sure. I was born and raised in Detroit. I grew up on the East Side with my mom. My dad lived on the West Side, and I moved back and forth between the two. Early on, I found a love for sports.

Q: Which sports?

A: I’ve been boxing since I was 7 years old at DBG (Downtown Boxing Gym) on the East Side and started playing football a few years after. Sports are a great way to stay grounded and focused. I like to challenge myself, both mind and body, which is why I’ve even taken Japanese lessons.

Q: Is that huge ring you’re rocking from one of your sports?

A: Football! We [De La Salle Pilots] won the state championship at Ford Field last November, going undefeated for the season.

Q: What was it like when you first started at De La Salle?

A: There was a little bit of culture shock, going from public school to private, but nothing out of the ordinary. It went away quickly. Everyone here at De La Salle was friendly and helpful, and I think that contributed to the ease of the transition. I’m very happy here. I’m grateful to the Sam and Nada Simon Foundation for presenting me with the opportunity to get a great high school education and for taking an interest in helping me succeed after graduation.

Q: Do you have any plans post-graduation?

A: I’m planning on college, either an HBCU in Atlanta or a school somewhere in Florida. I want to study business. My mom owns her own, and I’d love to be able to help expand it and make it even more successful, as a way to give back.

Q: What drives you day-to-day?

A: Definitely my family. Seeing all the hard work and sacrifices my parents have made for me my whole life motivates me to be successful. I want to make my family proud and give back wherever possible.

Sam and Nada’s Story

Sam Simon emigrated to Detroit from Iraq in 1975 when he was 9 years old. He, along with his parents and four siblings made their first home in a family friend’s basement near Five Mile and Gratiot Roads. His father Ramzi took a job pumping gas near Six Mile and Hoover. Looking to contribute, 9-year-old Sam joined his father working at the gas station.

Sam Simon, in his first truck that he purchased at the young age of 19.

When the local area gas stations had a difficult time getting kerosene in 1985, Sam saw an opportunity. At the young age of 19, Sam used a credit card to purchase a small tank truck for $30,000 and started his own SE Michigan fuel delivery business. It’s with that entrepreneurial spirit that Atlas Oil Company was born!

Sam and Nada Simon at their Birmingham, Michigan Office.

A key to Sam’s success has always been to surround himself with and collaborate with great people. One of his first Atlas Oil goals was to find a world-class salesperson. That’s where Sam met Nada, also an immigrant from Iraq, who was working for Ford Motor Co. Sam knew she was the right person and offered her a job. At first, she refused. But Sam persisted. His persistence paid off when Nada eventually accepted the position. Their teamwork launched Atlas on a path to success. Their partnership flourished both in business and in life. Seven years later they married.

In reflecting back Sam unequivocally states “My dad is my biggest
hero. He brought us to this country with less than $200. He never gave up and
never considered failure an option. One of the most important things that he
taught us was to always conduct ourselves and our businesses with integrity.”
This lesson has helped shape the culture and values that we see today at Atlas
Oil and Simon Group Holdings. It’s with a deeply personal understanding and
appreciation that Sam and Nada have made it their mission to give back to the
country that has provided them with such tremendous opportunity.  

Sam and Nada Simon, standing with their two sons at the 2018 Holiday Celebration at Michigan’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Sam and Nada are particularly grateful to our U.S. military men and women who selflessly serve to protect our freedom. Together with Simon Group Holdings company leadership and the Atlas Cares employee team, they host an annual holiday celebration for military families at Michigan’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base. This year will mark the 13th consecutive event.  The Sam & Nada Simon Foundation continues to look for opportunities to give back to our community as well as to our military personnel and first responders.

For more information or to explore partnership opportunities click here.