A Decade of Growth

B.E. 100s companies weather the test of time

In celebration of the 30th year of the BE 100S, the largest black-owned businesses in the U.S., BLACK ENTERPRISE took a look at growth within the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 and the BE AUTO DEALER 100 over the past decade, paying attention to three years: post-recession 1992, tech-frenetic 1997, and turbulent 2001.

In 1992 the Gulf War had ended, and the recession of the prior year was a memory. Sales at BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 companies grew 13.9% from 1991, while sales at BE AUTO DEALER 100 companies grew 14.5%. As is typical after recession years, many businesses were slow to ramp up staffing. Total employees at the industrial/service companies declined 2.8%, while growing 3.6% at the auto dealers.

It was a tough year for the BE 100S in 1997. For the first time since the two lists were created in 1988, combined sales of the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 and the BE AUTO DEALER 100 declined. This was partially due to a massive restructuring of assets at TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., which sold its French food distribution business. It generated $1.9 billion of the company’s $2.2 billion in revenues in 1996.

It’s been well documented that 2001 was another difficult year for companies of all sizes. War, terrorism, and a recession combined to create one of the more challenging business environments in years. In 2001, revenues for the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 totaled $11.4 billion with 63,627 employees. Auto dealers generated $8.9 billion in revenues with 12,305 workers. As the economy enters the recovery phase of its cycle, these African American business leaders and their firms are looking forward to a new decade of growth.

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