Dawn Of The Black Millennium

The B.E. 100s have ridden the wave of economic prosperity to great heights, but will the good times continue into the next century?

Johnson and others back to the drawing board. After regrouping and upping the ante, Johnson got the BET board to approve a revised offer of $378 million, or $63 a share.

Johnson has continued to strengthen and expand his franchise through the creation of a new BET on Jazz, a music-themed restaurant in Washington, D.C., and a dance/entertainment club on Disney’s Pleasure Island called BET SoundStage Club. Also on the list of acquisitions is Heart and Soul magazine, the black-oriented health and fitness publication, from Rodale Press, the majority-owned magazine publisher based in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. ALas Vegas casino is also being planned.

BENEFITING FROM THE ASIAN CRISIS
While the Asian financial crisis roiled international money markets last year, several BE 100s companies reaped benefits from the turmoil. One such company was Northbrook, Illinois-based Fuci Metals USA Inc. (No. 22 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $86.5 million in gross sales). “As Asian currencies weakened, there was an increased volatility in the prices of all commodities,” says CEO A. Demetrius Brown. “They were trying to establish fixed-priced contracts to minimize the downside. Most of my customers placed orders quickly in order to lock in lower prices.”

Fuci’s 31% sales growth did not rise from Asia’s financial woes. It continues to be one of the largest distributors of Russian silicon in the United States. And, the concern entered into a deal that could push it into the top 10 of the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE list. Fuci will supply Ford Motor Co. with 80,000 tons of aluminum. Says Brown: “Because of this deal, we will see our revenues grow to as much as $130 million in 1998.”

Fair Oaks Farms, a Kenosha, Wisconsinbased food processor (No. 44 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $44 million in sales) increased its volume orders with customers in Hong Kong and Japan between 40% to 50% at the beginning of the Asian crisis. “The initial panic was short-lived,” says CEO David Duerson. “But it worked to our advantage.”

Duerson beefed up sales on the domestic front as well. He invested roughly $7.5 million to upgrade operations and complete a new sausage linking and bacon production facility in Iowa. Now, Fair Oaks Farms is really cooking: the concern snared a contract to serve White Castle’s 303 outlets with sausage and bacon products for its breakfast trade as well as supply Burger King’s three Midwestern distribution centers. “It’s like our field of dreams,” says Duerson. “We built the facility and the business came. Doors have opened up for us to pursue the military and hospitals as well.”

The former defensive back is dearly taking the offensive. He has arranged for the restaurants to test-market his new line of retail food products, multi-flavored Double D Sausages.

SEEKING OUT NEW NICHES
Terry Manufacturing Co. Inc., the apparel manufacturer (No. 59 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE list with gross sales of $35.3 million), is also busting at the seams. Beyond producing uniforms for the military and fast-food outfits like McDonald’s Corp., which currently comprise 60% of total sales, CEO Roy

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