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

Bank, Mutual Savings & Loan Association in Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta Life Insurance Co.

Most revealing quote: “I’m often disturbed by the notion of the so- called glass ceiling, but you know, glass can be broken. I’ve never liked hearing people say you can’t do this or you can’t do that. The point, though, is not to just say [you can do] it. It’s important to be prepared to act and sacrifice; to accept that if this is what you want, just wishing it would happen is not enough–you’ve got to follow through and take the necessary steps to make it happen.”–Reginald F. Lewis, “Dealing At The Speed of Light,” BE, June 1988.

1989: Combined sales for the BE 100s came to nearly $6.8 billion, with $4.5 billion generated by the industrial/service businesses and $2.3 billion delivered by the auto dealerships.
The 1989 BE Companies of the Year: Chicago’s Soft Sheen Products Inc., New York’s Dick Gidron Cadillac & Ford Inc., Independence Bank of Chicago, Philadephia’s Berean Savings Association and Los Angeles’ Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Co.

1990: Combined sales for the BE 100s remained virtually flat at just above $6.8 billion, with $4.3 billion generated by the industrial/service businesses and $2.5 billion delivered by the auto dealerships.
Rocked by regional recessions, attacks on minority set-asides and cyclical downturns in a variety of industries, 19 BE 100s concerns filed bankruptcy. Two-thirds of these filings were made by auto dealers, casualties of Japanese imports’ increasing dominance of the Big Three domestic auto makers among American consumers.

Companies of the Year for 1990: Burlingame, California-based Advanced Consumer Marketing Corp. (owner of a mail order seed business and IBM dealerships), S&J Enterprises (a Charlotte, North Carolina-based operator of four Ford dealerships), Houston’s Unity National Bank and North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Durham.

1991: The collective gross revenues of the BE 100s totaled $7.169 billion, with $2.7 billion of that sum generated by the BE AUTO DEALER 100.

Due to rapid contraction of the banking industry (owing in large part to a simmering S&L crisis that finally boiled over, prompting federal reforms), BE merged the commercial bank and savings & loan lists to form the BE FINANCIALS LIST of the top 25 black banks and thrifts. No. 1 on the newly created list: Carver Federal Savings Bank.

The 1991 Companies of the Year: Wesley Industries (a Flint, Michigan- based auto parts supplier); Charlotte, North Carolina-based Metrolina Dodge; and Richmond, Virginia’s Consolidated Bank and Trust Co.
Interesting fact: This is the first year since 1973 that Motown founder Berry Gordy is not represented on the BE 100s. Gordy sold Motown to MCA Records and Boston Ventures, an investment bank, in 1988. The Gordy Co. (which comprised Gordy’s remaining businesses: Jobete Music, which marketed a catalogue of classic Motown hits; and Motown Productions, a movie-making subsidiary) did not generate enough revenues to make the 1991 list, nor any of the subsequent lists published to date.

1992: The 20th Annual Report on 1992 Black Business saw the BE 100s deliver total sales of

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