Building New Foundations

BE 100s CEOs tap new markets, diversify to grow the top line

in one assembly location is not selling, the volume goes down, and/or there is a strike, that doesn’t impact overall TAG Holdings.” Anderson says the company will continue to aggressively grow the business and pursue diverse customer and product bases in the U.S. and overseas.

Another company to adjust to the slowdown in the American automotive market was SET Enterprises Inc. (No. 24 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $205 million in revenues). Because of the state of the industry, the Warren, Michigan-based metal processing service firm had to make manpower and pricing adjustments to competitively bid for contracts. “For us, it was about having the best price,” says Chairman and CEO Sid E. Taylor. “We were able to be competitive and to do some things internally,” like reducing manpower and renegotiating union contracts, to keep manufacturing costs down. “By doing so, we won contracts that allowed us to grow in a very volatile market.”

All told, the company posted a 24% increase in revenues. “At the end of the day you have to decide that you want to stay in business. You have to engage all your key people. You have to advise them on the market and the fact that they cannot afford to be complacent and continue to operate business as usual. This is a new day,” Taylor explains. “The customer has set a different standard and set the bar at a different level. Either you measure up or you are out of business.”

As the auto industry continues its dismal cycle, other areas remain robust. Among them: government services. Benefiting from increased defense spending was Universal Systems & Techn
ology (UNITECH), which designs and manufactures battlefield-simulation devices that the U.S. Army and Marine Corps use to train troops. Receiving more than $45 million in new Department of Defense orders during September and October of 2007, the Centreville, Virginia-based company’s revenues were up 26%, placing it No. 44 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $98.8 million in revenues. The total value of UNITECH’s six active DOD contracts has increased to $225 million through 2010. “The growth in the company is being led by the simulation division in Orlando,” says UNITECH CEO Earl W. Stafford.

The company has produced hundreds of harmless improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that simulate these homemade bombs to a tee in impact, sound, and detonation. Recent UNITECH contracts involve designing and manufacturing counter radio electronic warfare, jamming devices used by troops to block cell phone and other remote wireless frequencies that detonate IEDs. UNITECH also makes laser-based weapons-training devices.

FACING AN ECONOMIC WRECKING BALL
It wasn’t all positive news for the BE 100S CEOs. The wrecking ball hit a number of companies that consequently have fallen off the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list. Among them is Granite Broadcasting Corp., a media broadcasting firm. After listing more than $640 million in outstanding debts, the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2007. As a result of the reorganization, Silver Point Capital, a private equity fund and hedge fund

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