Lansing small business owner is an overnight social media sensation


Todd Heywood

FRIDAY, July 8 — In the seven years that Larry Kirchoff has used his company’s social media to promote equity for oppressed people, especially in the black community, he has never had a viral post.

But on June 29, he ran an ad in the print edition of City Pulse. Within days, a photo of her exploded into the social media sphere, garnering hundreds of thousands of shares, likes and interactions on Twitter.

Kirchoff owns and operates All Star Mechanical, a heating and cooling services company in Lansing. Unlike most small business owners, however, he doesn’t shy away from controversy for fear of offending someone. Instead, he frequently uses his ad to voice his views, which are progressive.

It was not his goal, he said, to become a flashpoint on social media.

“It’s about what I can do to help others,” he said.

The announcement, which reads “I can’t pretend that everything is fine. Weapon fetishes take priority. Women no longer control their own bodies. The earth is heating up, blacks and browns are still being killed, brutalized or otherwise harassed. Honestly, at this point, who gives a damn about HVAC. But if you’re hot, give us a call.

Someone in the Twitter world spotted the ad and tweeted it with the caption “All Star Mechanical looks more like No Fucks Mechanical”.

In addition to hitting the social media jackpot, Bridge Magazine and the Detroit Metro Times wrote about his one-man crusade to raise equity awareness, focusing on that ad alone and pointing out that his social media for the company often got were full of messages countering racism, sexism and homophobia.

He advertised in City Pulse for years, including a full-page ad for the June 19 issue in which he made it clear he didn’t want to see the holidays, celebrating the day the last American slaves found they were free, turned into a commercial enterprise to exploit communities of color.

It all started watching footballer Colin Kaepernick risk his career to kneel during the national anthem to protest the shootings of mostly young men of color Kirchoff, 51, said he felt compelled to take the same risk.

“I’m sitting here with all this privilege, and he’s willing to take this risk?” He said he thought at the time. So he hopped on his social media and posted a message. That evening, his wife told him not to mix politics and business anymore.

“I said OK”, and the two went to bed. But Kirchoff woke up the next morning burning with a greater desire to question how our nation treats people of color. His conscience would not allow him to stop the crusade on his platforms.

But the June 29 announcement was another milestone when it comes to social media attention. Two different accounts had a combined retweet of nearly 200,000. Many other accounts also picked up the ad and spread it to their networks. As his phone kept ringing and his emails overflowed, he said the vast majority of comments supported his position.

Still, he remains humbled by the recent attention. “I mean, I’m glad the message is getting out there,” he said. “But I’m not saying anything people of color haven’t said in years. Why did my words go over the voices of people who are actually going through this? »

He admits he’s a bit uncomfortable with how it turned out, but said it wasn’t about growing his business. “It’s about doing and saying what is right. I just hope this serves to raise more color voices for more conversation.

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