And Still They Rise

Through partnership, acquisition and synergy, the ascent of the B.E. Industrial/Service 100 will not be denied

focus on the long term. The movie studio will specialize in small, independent films, producing approximately three per year. "So we plan on committing to this venture over a long period of time," says Johnson.

Some executives are aggressively seeking out venture capital to help grow their companies. Pro-Line Corp. recently received a $5 million cash infusion from venture capital firm Patricof & Co. Ventures Inc., a leading international private equity firm. CEO Comer Cottrell says the goal is to increase the sales of his Dallas-based cosmetics and haircare company nationally and internationally. Then he plans on seeking acquisition opportunities within his industry. "There have been quite a few acquisitions in our industry in recent months," says Cottrell. "It appears that today bigger is better."

That mandate hasn’t been lost on fellow be 100s CEO Carlton Highsmith. The CEO of Specialized Packaging Group (No. 35 on the be Industrial/Service 100 list with $71.3 million in sales) recently boxed up a $24 million acquisition of Lawson Mardon Carton of North America. That purchase allowed SPG to cut out an expensive middleman by producing its own packaging within the company, rather than designing packaging and outsourcing the manufacturing to another firm. A few months later Highsmith leveraged the clout of his newer, bigger concern, snagging a lucrative contract with Procter & Gamble. The three-year, $100 million contract will allow SPG to handle the global packaging of P&G’s Fabric and Home Care lines, which include products such as Tide, Cheer and Puffs. From now through December 2001, the Hamden, Connecticut-based SPG will receive $33.5 million annually as a result of the contract. "SPG was already a great packaging, designing and engineering company," says Highsmith. "By combining it with the excellence of Lawson Mardon, we expect to become one of
the highest-rated packaging companies in the country."

Highsmith wasn’t alone in his desire to seek growth through acquisition. Golden West Foods CEO Frank Brooks recently purchased a turkey-processing plant from Wampler Foods Inc., which he then converted into a chicken-processing facility. The new plant will manufacture breaded and batter-dipped chicken tenders, patties and nuggets. And it now opens up Golden West (No. 65 on the be Industrial/Service 100 list with $37.5 million in sales) to a client base that potentially includes Kentucky Fried Chicken and lunch-school programs across the United States.

Others in the food game saw growth through expansion. Dumas M. Siméus, CEO of Siméus Foods International, acquired a processing facility of his own. Siméus purchased Fast Food Merchandisers Inc. (FFM) of Forest City, North Carolina, which had projected sales of $70 million in 1998 and a team of 350 employees. The acquisition expanded the Texas-based concern to more than 750 workers and helped boost revenues 42% to $150 million. "This is really a step toward reaching our vision of being a $1 billion company in the next five years," says Siméus.

While many moved up, others moved on. IntelliSys Technology

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