company produced an impressive 16.8% increase in gross sales by providing back-office support and account services for major corporations and government agencies, such as motor vehicle departments and emergency services. To further expand its operation, PRWT developed a strategic partnership with three clients — American Express, Sallie Mae, and Affiliated Computer Services, a division of Lockheed Martin. Collectively, the triumvirate of Fortune 500 companies invested $15.4 million for a 22% equity stake. The move will enable PRWT to develop its call-center operations and handle billing and customer relations for its new partners. The management team has already identified a location for a state-of-the-art facility in an empowerment zone in South Philadelphia. “Through this arrangement, we can strengthen our infrastructure and increase our market share,” says CEO Willie F. Johnson, who forecasts a 60% revenue growth rate in the next two years. “It will enable us to target large commercial clients.”
Others are finding new ways to serve the communities — literally. The Hawkins Food Group (No. 12 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $246 million in sales) was one outfit that followed suit. After losing a legal battle with Burger King Corp., CEO La-Van Hawkins was forced to sell his franchises back to the corporation as part of a settlement. It didn’t quell his appetite for the food business. Still an operator of dozens of Pizza Hut and Perkins restaurants, as well as West Coast Video stores, Hawkins has decided to go upscale, launching a chain of top-of-the-line restaurants such as Sweet Georgia Brown and the Italian-flavored Tucci-Milan, in urban markets.
Integrated Packaging Corp. (IPC) found another approach to giving back to the community — and making a profit to boot. Last year, IPC (No. 33 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $100 million in sales) acquired the former Laimbeer Packaging plant in Detroit for $5 million in order to develop a second corrugated packaging operation. Once the $1.5 million plant upgrade is completed, IPC plans to hire roughly 100 workers and add $50 million to its corporate coffers by snaring contracts from, among other corporations, the Big Three automakers. “We like to focus our business interest wherever we see an opportunity in the inner city,” says CEO Joe Wilson.
Over the years, the BE 100S, individually and collectively, have been major contributors in the areas of employment and community investment. In good times and bad, their CEOs have found that spotting opportunities and thinking out of the box represent the best prescription for growth. Not only has this strategy resulted in a healthy bottom line for most individual companies, but in the long run it can give the American economy a much-needed booster shot.
Top 10 Growth Leaders