Through the Fire

One of Black Enterprise’s most enduring franchises has been the be 100s—our listing of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses. For more than 35 years, these rankings have been cited as one of the key barometers of black business performance.

As usual, the trials and triumphs, carnage and comebacks of these companies over the past 12 months have been compiled and recorded. And just as many of these companies were forced to make adjustments, we’ve made a few changes in our presentation as well. We’ve scaled back our auto dealer list from 100 companies to 75 as the number of franchises has dwindled because of fatal collisions with a brutal economy—and they weren’t the only casualties.

It’s often said that when majority corporations are in intensive care, black-owned businesses are waiting to be administered their last rites. But true to this year’s theme, “Forged in the Fire,” our editors found companies that responded to financial crisis with resilience and resourcefulness. Our profiles reveal entrepreneurs who discovered safe havens within their sector or cultivated new opportunities in other areas.

Read our story on this year’s Industrial/Service Company of the Year, PRWT, and you’ll find a company that grew sales by a jaw-dropping 120% by shifting its business model from managing call centers and back-office operations to supplying pharmaceutical products.

Developing these features required extensive research, investigative reporting, and skillful editing. Our be 100s coverage is led by Editorial Director Alan Hughes, who has tracked these companies for the past seven years. An automotive enthusiast who can take cars apart and reassemble them, Hughes takes the same approach in the reporting process. He engages in a diagnostic examination, spots fixable attributes as well as problem areas, and then assesses whether a company requires an overhaul or can be turbocharged to outpace the competition.

Other members of our team include Research Vice President Stacia Tackie and Market Research Analyst J. Wesley Miller, who spent several months poring over surveys as well as making calls to scores of businesses nationwide. And to ensure that information is accurate and digestible, Copy Chief Seimond London led our crew of copy editors/fact-checkers, Dale R. Coachman, Siobhan Dixon, and Robin White Goode.

“Our team represents the best in business journalism in the compilation and analysis of such lists and the creation of these packages, bar none,” says Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle. “We take seriously our role as the publication of record for African American industry. But we are just as focused on identifying business examples that our readers can use to help them swerve around roadblocks.”

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