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?

press conference about the initiative. “This program will open opportunities to source new capital, enabling Bartech to build or lease facilities within the minority community. Also, we are being given the same opportunity as our majority-owned counterparts to raise capital in public markets in order to keep pace with the Big Three’s expansion around the world.”

Engineered Plastic Products (No. 76 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $28.7 million in sales) will make a grab for such contracting opportunities. For the past few years, CEO Gerald Edwards has finetuned the operation as the Big Three–like other Fortune 500 companies–have consolidated their supplier pool. Handling plastic interior trim for such vehicles as the new Corvette and the Dodge Dakota Truck, Edwards has invested $600,000 in the latest injection molding equipment as well as beefed up his warehousing operation. “I have maintained myself as a tier-one supplier,” he says of the vending status to manufacture and ship parts directly to automakers instead of handling subcontract work. “The automakers have already acknowledged my company as a top vendor. The Clinton program will be icing on the cake.”

Cimarron Express, which hauls cars for the Big Three (No. 72 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $30.1 million in gross sales) seeks to acquire another trucking operation that will be compatible with its current operations. Business has been brisk for the Genoa, Ohio-based firm, and it expects to gain additional contracts from the new agreement. Ironically, CEO Glenn Grady says that Clintonomics has been responsible for a manpower shortage. “Our biggest challenge is finding drivers,” says Grady. “When the economy is flush, workers find other opportunities. The last thing they want to do is sit behind a truck.”

FACING INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGES
While the policies of the Clinton administration have been bountiful for some concerns, others like Baltimore-based Stop Shop Save Food Markets (No. 22 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list) have been minding empty baskets. When the Clinton administration completed welfare reform last year, it clipped the food stamp program. The supermarket chain, which serves a low-income consumer base, lost a significant part of its revenue stream from the redemption of the currency. Over the past few months, CEO Henry T. Baines Sr. has been forced to consolidate operations because of a sharp reduction in sales. So far, he has shut down two stores and cut the company’s workforce from 800 to 650. “In addition to the loss of revenues, we found that twelve locations were too many. We were starting to cannibalize ourselves,” he says. “We are also feeling competitive pressures from the big chains that are returning to the inner city.”

BE advertising firms are confronted by a different threat. Increasingly, majority firms continue to tread on its turf through urban marketing boutiques. UniWorld Group Inc. (No. 2 on the BE ADVERTISING AGENCIES list with gross sales of $162 million) is taking a two-prong approach to fighting off this well-heeled crop of competitors: holding on to its existing marketing thrust with a vise-like grip and

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