Contenders

These companies are battling with competitors to move up the ranks and, possibly, get a title shot

including positioning his brother, Jerome, to focus on the potentially lucrative real estate division. Russell is also aggressively pursuing new markets such as New York City and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

These contenders are hoping that by readjusting their business strategies they will propel their companies to the top of future rankings and maybe even snare a championship belt.

Workforce Reductions
Largest reduction in staff: Seventy-Five
Auto Dealers
March/Hodge Automotive Group
2004 staff: 800
2005 staff: 725

Our contenders not only held their own during a turbulent year, but many also repositioned their companies to stage impressive comebacks. The nation’s largest black-owned financial services firms bobbed and weaved as they fought large majority institutions and dodged blows from rising interest rates and a lackluster stock market. These institutions, and other BE 100S companies like them, avoided kissing the canvas by restructuring operations, offering innovative products and services, and expanding into new businesses. Here’s how some stayed in the fight.

May 2005
FUSE Inc. (No. 10 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $52 million in billings) launches a new tourism campaign for the state of Missouri. The state’s Division of Tourism chose the St. Louis-based firm to promote the state as a vacation spot for African Americans.

September 2005
Dumas Siméus, chairman and founder of Mansfield, Texas-based Siméus Foods International Inc. (No. 33 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100
list with $127 million in sales), is disqualified from the Haitian presidential election due to dual U.S.-Haitian citizenship. The CEO put running his company on the back burner to run in the election.

June 2005
Jackson Securities L.L.C. (No. 7 on the BE INVESTMENT BANKS list with $41.4 billion in total managed issues) merges with Berean Capital Inc., an institutional brokerage and research services firm, to create a stronger company with greater geographic coverage.

December 2005
Profits at Broadway Federal (No. 8 on the BE BANKS list with $292.3 million in assets) total $1.7 million, about the same as 2004. CEO Paul C. Hudson said earnings were flat, mainly because the thrift’s net interest margin was lower in 2005 than in 2004.

January 2006
Images USA (No. 11 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with $51 million in billings) is chosen to handle marketing for Amtrak’s mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, an assignment that could be worth $4 million over four years.

February 2006
OneUnited Bank (No. 2 on the BE BANKS list with $541.6 million in assets) becomes the first African American-owned bank to allow customers to open accounts on the Internet.
-Additional reporting by Wendy Harris, Cliff Hocker, Tykisha N. Lundy,
Jeffrey McKinney, Nicole Marie Richardson & Tennille M. Robinson

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