A Tactical Edge

The B.E.100s are working every angle to gain the competitive upper hand and stave off the competition

of the Web has allowed us to grow the business, bring value to customers and supplier relationships and drive down the cost of business,” asserts Steward. “We can accommodate large customers without diminishing the level of service or driving up costs. [The e-marketplaces] have changed the way we do business with our partners and clients. The availability of information is much broader and deeper than ever before. Customers can go out and get what they need to do business with us.”

Other prominent revenue generators could be found among those concerns involved in tech sectors, ranging from information technology to telecommunications. One such company wired for growth was Washington Cable Supply Inc. (WCS is No. 7 on the BE industrial/ service 100 list), a Lanham, Maryland, electrical and telecommunications equipment distributor. Hailed as members of be’s New Power Generation, the husband-and-wife team of William and Beverly Parker increased sales 185.3%, from $74.3 million in 1998 to $212 million last year, by snaring lucrative contracts with AT&T totaling more than $100 million. The high-flying concern was tapped to handle material management for fiber optic network equipment. The linchpin of the deal was WCS becoming the first company to sign a joint marketing agreement with Lucent Technologies’ Business Solution Provider Alliance. The AT&T spin-off chose WCS because it had the financing, technical and electronic commerce capabilities to become one of its value-added resellers. The deals, according to CEO William Parker, will position WCS to further upgrade technical skills and establish the funds to expand the business through mergers and acquisitions.

Other high-charging tech firms included Annapolis, Maryland-based Telecommunications Systems Inc. (No. 61 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list), the wireless communications infrastructure developer that boosted sales 79.5%, from $25.4 million in 1998 to $45.6 million in 1999. Newcomer WireAmerica of Indiana’s 97.2% gain pushed sales from $22.4 million to $44.1 million, earning the 64th slot on the list. And Mount Prospect, Illinois-based Sayers (No. 14 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list), the computer sales and service firm run by former Chicago Bears’ running back Gale Sayers scored big: total sales sprinted from $110 million in 1998 to $161 million in 1999, a 46.4% increase.

OLD ECONOMY FIRMS FIGHT BACK
A number of so-called Old Economy companies-firms in mature service and industrial sectors-saw significant dips in revenues. For example, restaurant and food contract services company Thompson Hospitality Corp. (No. 91 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list) saw sales plummet from $43.5 million to $29 million. And automotive coatings and castings company, Wesley Industries Inc. (No. 39 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list) realized a precipitous 26.3% drop, from $95 million in gross sales to $70 million.

Other old-line companies in the automotive sector have embraced the philosophy of strength in numbers. CEO William Pickard restructured Regal Plastics by folding the concern into a holding company with five other auto suppliers he owns. As a result, he turned a $63 million vendor into Global Automotive Alliance L.L.C. (No. 20 on the BE Industrial/Service 100 list) a $144 million

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