The B.E. 100s: Bloodied, But Unbowed

Perhaps even more impressive is the 2009 performance of Avis Ford, based in Southfield, Michigan. A year ago, the devastation of the domestic auto industry forced the shutdown of hundreds of dealerships, resulting in a total overhaul of the be  auto dealers list and a decision not to name an auto dealer of the year for the first time since our auto list was established in 1988. However, while the auto industry continues to retool for the global marketplace, Avis Ford, under the leadership of CEO Walter E. Douglas Sr. and his sons Edmond Douglas Jr., vice president and business development manager, and Mark Douglas, president of the dealership, has proven that a willingness to restructure and streamline operations while remaining laser-focused on customer service can result in double-digit revenue growth, even as neighboring dealerships are shutting down. When you consider that we’re talking about a domestic auto dealership, in a recessionary economy, in the Detroit metro area—one of the America’s hardest hit urban markets—then the performance of Avis Ford is nothing short of amazing, and clearly deserving of its recognition as our 2010 Auto Dealer of the Year.

But there’s more to achieving growth and profitability in a tough economic environment than retrenching. The best business leaders remain hyper-alert to market opportunities created when weaker performers are forced to fall back or go out of business altogether. That’s a big part of the story of how New York-based Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. L.L.C. (SBS)—ranked on the be investment banks list—became the fastest-growing public finance firm on Wall Street. Led by CEO Suzanne Shank, SBS executed an ambitious expansion plan, hiring the top specialists from larger, fallen Wall Street firms such as Lehman Bros. and gobbling up market share in the public finance business. As a result, SBS broke into the top 10 ranking of all municipal bond senior managers—a first for any minority-owned firm—and earned our recognition as the 2010 Financial Services Company of the Year.

And in advertising—an industry that had become increasingly cut-throat and competitive for black-owned agencies even before the economic downturn, and then tougher still with the plunge in auto industry ad spending—the performance of advertising agency GlobalHue, also in Southfield, Michigan, is nothing short of astonishing. Led by CEO Don Coleman, GlobalHue leveraged its well-established position as an innovative leader in multicultural marketing to earn recognition from Advertising Age as the nation’s No. 3 Hispanic agency, in addition to its position as the largest African American agency. And AdWeek named GlobalHue its Multicultural Ad Agency of the Decade. Combining all its different agencies, the full-service marketing communications firm—with clients including Verizon, Walmart, Chrysler Group L.L.C., U.S. Navy, Bermuda Department of Tourism, U.S. Census Bureau, and

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