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

$7.9 billion, with nearly $3 million generated by the auto dealers. These businesses employed 38,723 people. Nine BE 100s companies, (including Shack-Woods & Associates, No. 1 on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 with $287 million in revenue) posted sales of more than $100 million each. Seven companies have made every list since its inception.

Legendary Birmingham, Alabama, businessman Arthur G. Gaston Sr., the founder and chairman of Citizen’s Federal Savings Bank, Booker T. Washington Life Insurance Co. and nearly a dozen other enterprises, is named BE s Entrepreneur of the Century. Gaston celebrates his 100th birthday on July 4,1992.

Also, two BE 100s companies completed initial public offerings: BET Holdings Inc., a Washington, D.C. cable television programmer, became the first black owned company to trade on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1991; shortly thereafter, Granite Broadcasting Inc., a New York- based owner of network television affiliates, joined the NASDAQ Exchange.

The 1992 BE Companies of the Year: Detroit cable television operator Barden Communications Inc., Charleston, West Virginia’s C.H. James & Co. (founded in 1883, the food distributor remains the oldest continuously operated BE company), Mel
Farr Automotive Group and Industrial Bank of Washington.

1993: The nation’s largest black-77J owned industrial/service companies and auto dealerships generated more than $9 billion in total revenues. A dozen BE 100s companies posted revenues of more than $100 million each. The BE INVESTMENT BANKS list, which first appeared in the October 1991 issue of BE, is added to the Annual Report on Black Business for the first time; San Francisco’s Grigsby Brandford & Co. tops the list.

Companies of the Year for 1993: Threads 4 Life dba Cross Colours (a Los Angeles-based apparel manufacturer), Fort Worth, Texas-based Alan Young Buick-GMC Truck and Los Angeles’ Founder’s National Bank.

The business world was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of TLC Beatrice International Holdings founder and CEO Reginald F. Lewis due to brain cancer in January 1993. Lewis was succeeded first by his brother, Jean S. Fugett Jr, and finally by his wife, Loida Lewis.

1994: The BE 100s breaks the $10 million lion barrier in total sales.

The 1994 BE Companies of the Year: The Drew Pearson Companies (an Addison, Texas-based sports apparel manufacturer) and Charlotte, North Carolina, auto dealership S&J Enterprises.

The sale of Chicago hair care products maker Johnson Product, in a $67 million stock swap, to majority-owned IVAX Corp. sets off a debate over whether prominent black-owned businesses should be sold to nonblacks. Along with the selling of Al Johnson Cadillac-Avanit-Saab Inc. by founder Albert W. Johnson Sr. back to General Motors, Johnson Products’ merger with IVAX reduces the number of companies that have made every BE 100s list to five.

Interesting fact: For the first time, each of the top 10 employers of the BE 100s employed at least 1,000 people, with the No. 1 employer, TLC Beatrice, employing 4,500–nearly half of the total employed by the entire origional Top 100 list.

1995: The BE 100s generated $11.7 billion in total revenues.

The 1995 BE Companies of the Year: Granite Broadcasting

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