Ready to Rumble

30 years of the BE 100s

the firm access to the burgeoning Latino market. The firm’s billings grew by a robust 22.2%.

Black-owned financial services companies, which include our ranking of insurance firms, banks, asset managers, investment banks, and private equity firms, squared off against a series of collective challenges as well as those specific to individual sectors. All of them had to deal with the aftermath of Sept. 11 and the ensuing war on terrorism, which caused increased volatility in the financial markets. Moreover, the Financial Modernization Act, which allows banks, brokerages, and insurance companies to merge and expand into each other’s markets, has made for an industrywide slugfest. Think of it as being analogous to placing boxers in a ring without regard to weight class.

Developments in other sectors proved to be a mixed bag. Despite 11 rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in 2001 — which brought them to their lowest level in 40 years — a number of banks such as Carver federal Savings Bank (No. 1 on the BE BANKS list with $449.5 million in assets) reaped benefits from nervous investors putting money in low-yielding but safe savings vehicles. Investment banks and asset managers saw their fortunes rise when the market rebounded significantly during the fourth quarter. For instance, the S&P 500 was up an impressive 16.8% four months after its Sept. 21 low, brought about by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

For much of 2001, private equity firms had to deal with a soft market sparked by the fallout of the dotcom implosion. For the fir
st three quarters, the market remained limp because of the recession and war. But the industry realized a sharp turnaround by year’s end as investor confidence snapped back. Venture capitalists invested $7.1 billion in the fourth quarter, reversing an 18-month slump and pushing investment volume to $36.5 billion for the year, which was considered the third best in total dollars invested, according to Newark, New Jersey-based Venture Economics. As for the BE private equity firms — some of which tended to their portfolio companies — assets under management were $2.5 billion.

Now, the BE 100S have geared up for the recovery and a business environment marked by uncertainty. Many will fight the next rounds by emphasizing the same methods they employed in 2001: consolidating operations, developing alliances, finding top talent, and providing killer customer service. One could say they’re bobbing and weaving, quickly staying out of their opponent’s reach while positioning themselves to land a powerful blow.

Auto & Industrial/Service Summary (2000-2001)

2002 Top 100
I/S Companies
2000 2001 % CHANGE
Total Staff

65,898

63,627

-3.45

Total Sales*

$10,979.272

$11,452.417

4.31

2002 Top 100
Auto Dealers
2000 2001 %CHANGE
Total Staff

12,257

12,305

0.39

Total Sales*

$8,728.730

$8,869.872

1.62

2002 B.E. 100S 2000 2001 %CHANGE
Total Staff

78,155

75,932

-2.84

Total Sales*

$19,708.002

$20,322.289

3.12

*in millions of dollars, to the nearest thousand. As of Dec. 31, 2001.Prepared by B.E. Research.

Eligibility for the B.E.100s
The BE 100s make up the largest black-owned businesses in the nation. For 12 months, the research department and editors of BLACK ENTERPRISE gathered surveys from

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