Milestones Of The B.E. 100s

A look at a quarter-century of major events which shaped the growth of the nation's largest black-owned businesses

Mutual Assurance Co.

1986: Riding a wave of dealmaking and diversification, the BE 100 delivered sales of $2.9 billion. Acquisition-oriented entrepreneurs began to take center stage during the “go-go” ’80s. J. Bruce Llewellyn’s acquisition of Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc. creates the fourth BE 100 company with more than $100 million in revenues. The $102 million business joins Johnson Publishing, Motown Industries and H.J. Russell Construction in this elite group.

And an aggressive corporate attorney named Reginald F. Lewis became a BE 100 CEO by leading McCall Pattern Co., which he acquired through the TLC Group Inc. two years earlier, to No. 8 on the list, with sales of $60 million.

The 1986: BE Companies of the Year were Maxima Corp. (a Rockville, Maryland-based computer firm), the Boston Bank of Commerce, Norfolk, Virginia’s Berkley Citizens Mutual Federal Savings & Loan and Birmingham’s Protective Industrial Insurance Co. of Alabama.

1987: The 15th anniversary listing of the nation’s largest black companies and financial institutions recognized Johnson Publishing Co. Chairman and CEO John H. Johnson as the first BE Entrepreneur of the Decade. Johnson Publishing continued to reign as the nation’s largest black-owned company with sales of $173.5 million.

It was also a banner year for the BE 100, which broke the $3 billion sales barrier. Companies on the list employed more than 18,000 people. Ten of the original Top 100 made all 15 BE 100 lists. The smallest company on the list, Watiker & Son, a Zanesville, Ohio, construction firm, reported sales of $16.6 million. The new top black thrift was Independence Federal Savings Bank of Washington, D.C.
The 1987 BE Companies of the Year: Atlanta-based H.J. Russell & Co., Mechanics & Farmers Bank of Durham, North Carolina, New York’s Carver Federal Savings Bank and Universal Life Insurance Co. of Memphis, Tennesse.

1988: That rapidly growing number of the nation’s black-owned auto dealerships prompts a major change in BE’s annual report on black business. The BE 100 becomes the BE 100s, which is comprised of two lists–the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 and the BE AUTO DEALER 100. Combined sales for the two lists came to more than $6.1 billion, with $4.1 billion generated by the industrial/service businesses and $2 billion delivered by the auto dealerships. The BE 100s employed a total of 53,255 people, with more than 47,426 jobs created by the industrial/service companies.

The biggest deal of the year was Wall Street financier Reginald F. Lewis’ landmark $987 million leveraged buyout of TLC Beatrice International Foods. With sales of $1.8 billion, TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc., a New York-based holding company for food- product distribution businesses in Western Europe, is the first BE 100s company to break the billion-dollar sales barrier, replacing Johnson Publishing as the nation’s largest black-owned business. A record five BE 100s companies had more than $100 million each in revenues.

The 1988 Companies of the Year were TLC Beatrice International, Long Beach, California-based Shack-Woods & Associates (No. 1 on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 and the first ever BE Auto Dealership of the Year), Seaway National

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