A Tale Of Four Freshmen

By Sonya A. Donaldson

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity … Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Indeed, 2002 was a Dickensian year for American businesses and the economy. Amid corporate scandals that left companies and private citizens in financial ruin, a slumping economy, creeping unemployment, and war in the Middle East, 2002 left many wondering, “Could things get any worse?” But despite the turmoil, for a small group of companies, last year was their personal best, a year marked by smart business moves that enabled them not only to survive the economic downturn but to profit in spite of it.

Four members of this year’s freshman class are not entirely new to the BE 100S. Charles H. James III, who just completed his tenure as CEO of PrimeSource FoodService Equipment Inc., was last on the BE INDUSTRIAL/ SERVICE 100 list in 1999. His holding company, C.H. James & Co. Inc., ranked No. 78 with $31.43 million. James’ success with PrimeSource FoodService Equipment Inc. put him on this year’s list. Joseph B. Anderson Jr., currently CEO of Vibration Control Technologies L.L.C. (VCT), has also spent time among the ranks of the industrial/service companies, though not with VCT. He last appeared on the 2000 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list, coming in at No. 78 with Chivas Industries L.L.C. The automotive supply company, which Anderson has since sold, grossed $34 million that year. His January 2002 acquisition of VCT has reintroduced him to this year’s list.

There are also two companies in this year’s class who have made comebacks. Lanham, Maryland-based Radio One Inc. wasn’t on last year’s list but was most recently on the 2001 BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list, ranking No. 17 with $177.22 million in revenues. Alert Staffing is our second comeback kid, debuting and last appearing on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list in 2001 at No. 13, having grossed $204.2 million in revenues.

These most recent additions to the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list, while operating in different industries, all have one thing in common: a remarkable knack for creating the “best of times” from the worst. James McNeil, CEO of McNeil Technologies Inc. (No. 80 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $38 million in gross sales), saw revenues increase 30% when his company was tapped to provide airport screening and security following the Sept. 11 attacks. Anderson, CEO of Vibration Control Technologies L.L.C. (No. 63 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/ SERVICE 100 list with $59 million in gross sales), used his military and auto industry experience to boost company revenues. Gilbert C. Morrell Jr. proved with The Nucon Group (No. 98 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $29.88 million in gross sales) that an economic downturn is often the best time to test the waters for new opportunities. And James took PrimeSource FoodService Equipment Inc. (No. 30 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list) to $140

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