Reinvention Through Innovation

Despite the sluggish economy, a number of B.E. 100S companies are winning the battle for market share and profits by retooling their enterprises

the previous calendar year.

B.E. Advertising Agencies
An advertising agency must be at least 51% black-owned and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. To qualify as a full-service advertising agency, the company must provide creative services as well as make media placements — purchasing time and/or space for a clients’ advertising. Companies that only provide consulting services, create or produce advertising, or do media placements do not qualify as full-service agencies. (We canvassed the Standard Directory of Advertising Agencies, combined industry publications, and made inquiries in the field to identify full-service agencies.)

An agency’s financial status is measured in terms of billings — monies allocated by an advertiser to its agency to buy time on television and/or radio, or space in publications. These media outlets then pay a commission back to the agency in the form of a discount, typically between 15% — 20%, which the agency counts as revenue. Other sources of revenue include production fees that the agency charges to its clients and fees for adjunct services such as public relations, consulting, and promotional work. Our ranking of the 15 top agencies is based on a combined total of actualized billings, in addition to capitalized billings (commissions that haven’t been paid but the media buys were completed), and other agency fees reported as revenues — an accepted industry practice for reporting earnings.

B.E. Banks
A commercial bank or savings and loans that are classified by the Federal Reserve as black institutions and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. An institution’s financial status is measured in terms of total assets, capital, deposits and loans, including mortgage-backed securities for the calendar year. In compiling our list of the leading 25 institutions, we received surveys from black-owned institutions and consulted the Federal Reserve, state banking commissions, and industry associations.

B.E. Insurance Companies
A life insurance company must be at least 51% black-owned and have been fully operational for the previous calendar year. An institution’s financial status is measured in terms of total assets, life retractions,” says Frank Mercado-Valdes, CEO of the New York City-based seller of TV syndication time. (Heritage makes its money as commissions when it sells advertising against air time of reruns and original programming.)

While the shaky economy unnerved other companies into canceling their weekend shows, Heritage charged forward in 2002. It launched three original properties — ‘N Gear, Livin’ Large, and Weekend Vibe — through partnerships with Dick Clark Productions; Carsey-Warner, one of the leading TV program distributors; and Vibe magazine. Heritage also snagged the syndication rights to Showtime at the Apollo (See “Showdown at the Apollo,”
January 2003).
Mercado-Valdes, who “hocked everything” to develop new programming, took advantage of the recession by hiring quality talent that had been laid off by larger companies. With a 50% sales increase over last year, acquisition of the rights to shows such as The Parkers and Resurrection Blvd., and an alliance with renowned African American producer Suzanne de Passe to make made-for-TV films, Mercado-Valdes says Heritage is set up to reach the $100 million revenue mark.

Business owners who didn’t

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