Lessons From the Front Lines

B.E.100s CEOs deploy a new battle plan to combat an unforgiving business environment

Alabama, reseller and telecommunications service provider added Verizon to its roster of clients that also includes AT&T, GE Capital Solutions, and Qwest. “In 2010, we have put a stake in the ground to grow our federal contracts business 10% to 20%, and to
increase our global business side 10% to 15%,” says President and CEO Ralph E. Brown.

3 FOLLOW THE MONEY. Germantown, Maryland-based 1 Source Consulting Inc. (No. 20 on the BE industrial/service companies list with $210.7 million in revenues) saw revenues jump 4.3% due to increased government spending. The company provides IT services for the U.S. departments of Energy, Education, Justice, and Transportation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

AUTO DEALERS: OVERHAULING THEIR BUSINESSES
To say that the automotive dealers traveled a bumpy road last year is an understatement. Two of the Big Three U.S. automakers filed for bankruptcy and the sales volume dropped by 40.5% from 2000 highs that had held almost a decade (see chart). As a result, be’s auto dealer list dropped from 75 to 60. In prior years, the list ranked the top 100 dealerships. Gregory Jackson, the CEO of St. Clair Shores, Michigan-based Prestige Automotive Group (No. 3 on the be auto dealers list with $371.2 million in revenues), who shuttered three Saturn dealerships after GM decided to discontinue the brand, characterizes the current environment to that of combat: “It’s like being in a war. You hit the beach with your buddies and then the bombs start falling. You look around and your buddies are dead. You’re glad to still be alive but you don’t feel good.”

While most of the news has been grim, there is a bright side. During the first two months of 2010, auto sales increased 9.9%, points out Charles Cyrill, a spokesman for the National Auto Dealers Association. Some African American dealers invented procedures for surviving the recession, and several are here to share how they succeeded:

1 GET THE BEST TALENT. With unemployment hovering near 10%, there are a lot of quality professionals available. Southfield, Michigan-based Avis Ford Inc. (No. 14 on the be auto dealers list with $86.5 million in revenues) took advantage of this and

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  • Joyce Carter

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