Bouncing Back

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, black-owned businesses learn the true meaning of crisis management as they turn losses into gains

were right. Reagan National reopened on October 4.

Beal’s firm may also do well by doing good. The firm became directly involved in the relief effort by helping one of its clients, Numotech Inc., a Northridge, California, medical device company, get critical supplies to burn victims. On September 12, M.R. Beal managers Jamir Couch and Jarius DeWalt spent hours on the phone and visited government offices in an effort to transport 1,000 units of their client’s innovative wound-care product, the Numobag, to a major New York hospital. Couch worked closely with staffers from New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to figure out how NASA could use its planes to fly the devices from California to New York–even though airports had been shut down for sesecurity reasons. Eventually, the Numobags arrived at the hospital via ground transportation courier services. For Beal, the commercial benefit may be generating sufficient investor interest in Numotech to complete a $10 million private placement. “The hospital’s request of the product for New York burn victims hasn’t helped [us] directly, but it does let people know it’s a useful product,” says Couch, the firm’s vice president of institutional sales. “[This has] broadened our test markets of California and Florida to New York, and it’s a real-life situation. Prior to this, the product was tested on diabetes patients.”

Financial services firms were not the only concerns affected by the attack and the ensuing war. For instance, Frank Mercado-Valdes, CEO of African Heritage Network, a television production and syndication firm that ranks No. 82 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $35.5 million in gross sales, watched his company’s revenues nosedive. “We lost revenue because, during the last three weeks of September, [television stations] were airing nonstop coverage of the disaster,” says the entrepreneur, whose grandfather served as a laborer on one of the World Trade Center construction crews. “We lost roughly $1 million in billings in September due to ad cancellations and inability to air pro–gramming.” To recoup losses, he’s applying for federal disaster relief funds from FEMA for his company, which is located near Ground Zero.

Other companies have taken measures to fortify their operations as well. For example, Priscilla Johnson is pursuing low-interest-rate loans offered by the Small Business Administration. Moreover, she plans to boost revenues and cut overhead through her Top Diversity Talent Website, a new, low-cost avenue through which employers may identify promising prospects. Says Johnson: “Our logic is we can sell a less expensive product to more people.”

This new wartime climate has sparked black insurers to rethink their product mix. “[The terrorist attacks] generated a whole new market for catastrophic life insurance,” says Verdun Arnaud, senior vice president and actuary for Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Co., which earned the No. 3 slot on the BE INSURANCE COMPANIES list, with a net investment income of $7.9 million. (The industry defines a catastrophe as an incident in which two or more deaths occur.)


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