making the much-needed investments of time, tithes, and talent to help others prosper. You need look no further for numerous examples than this issue of black enterprise, which features our 39th annual listing of the be 100s, the nation’s largest black-owned businesses.
Each of our 2011 be 100s Companies of the Year has a long track record of creating jobs, uplifting communities, and creating opportunities for other professionals and entrepreneurs. Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C., a $1.6 billion auto industry supplier and our Industrial/Service Company of the Year, now employs more than 1,400 people at four manufacturing facilities, after starting out with only one customer a little more than a decade ago. Led by CEO Ronald E. Hall, Bridgewater has survived the Great Recession and returned to profitability, bringing desperately needed economic activity to the Detroit area. The same can be said for Bob Ross Buick/GMC and Mercedes-Benz, based in Centerville, Ohio, and this year’s Auto Dealer of the Year. Since the death of CEO Norma J. Ross last April (husband and founder Bob Ross died in 1997), daughter and CEO Jenell Ross has overcome both personal loss and industry turmoil to continue the family business and maintain the Ross tradition of supporting nonprofit and community groups in the Dayton, Ohio, area, as well as organizations ranging from the NAACP to Central State University.
Both M.R. Beal & Co. in New York and Burrell Communications Group L.L.C. in Chicago, the 2011 Financial Services Company of the Year and Advertising Agency of the Year, respectively, have created professional and business opportunities for generations of professionals in their industries. Investment bank M.R. Beal can claim some of the most accomplished pros in its industry as alumni, including Suzanne Shank of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. L.L.C., the 2010 Financial Services Company of the Year. And Burrell Communications is a living legacy of founder Tom Burrell, who, upon retiring, implemented a succession plan that passed ownership of his agency to two longtime employees, Fay Ferguson and McGhee Williams Osse, the agency’s co-CEOs.
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