State's Largest Private Companies Book Revenue of $28.6B

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, May. 26, 2008 12:00 am  

Companies whose revenue depends on the housing market were not so lucky. Sales at Cooper Communities Inc. of Rogers were off more than 21 percent in 2007, although marketing manager David Bean said the company has cautiously restarted its spec-home building program in 2008. Ridout Lumber Cos., the 36-year-old Searcy building material wholesaler, recorded a revenue decline of more than 23 percent in 2007 and dropped from No. 41 to No. 44 on the list. Revenue at No. 43 National Home Centers of Springdale, another seller of building materials, was off almost 19 percent. (See story, Page 19.)

Inflation in food prices is headline news in mid-2008, but it wasn't so obvious when Affiliated Foods Southwest Inc. finished its fiscal 2007 on June 30. While remaining at No. 8 on the list of private companies, the Little Rock grocery wholesaler and retailer actually saw a slight decrease in revenue in fiscal 2007, to $763.2 million from $773 million in fiscal 2006.

Affiliated Foods spokesman Al Miller said fiscal 2008, which will end in about five weeks, would be another "flat" year in terms of revenue. But the closing of some nonproductive stores and other operations during the past 18 months had executives expecting "much improvement" during fiscal 2009.

Harps Food Stores Inc. of Springdale, which closes its fiscal year in August, reported a better 2007 with sales up 5.3 percent to $400 million. Forrest City Grocery Co. enjoyed sales growth of almost 9 percent in 2007, reaching the half-billion-dollar mark, but still moved down from No. 16 to No. 19 on this year's list.

Among the businesses whose revenue was estimated is Wehco Media, the parent company of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and a growing roster of newspapers as well as cable TV operations. Wehco has never volunteered its revenue figure to Arkansas Business, but Advertising Age magazine in 2006 ranked it among the "100 Leading Media Companies" with 2005 revenue of $301 million. In 2007, Wehco slipped off Advertising Age's list, which had a cutoff of $301 million, so Arkansas Business has revised downward its 2006 estimate to $300 million and maintained that estimate for 2007.

Similarly, Stephens Media, which is part of the Stephens family's SF Holding Corp., slipped off Advertising Age's 2007 list as well. The 2005 figure that Advertising Age listed for Stephens Media, $274 million, is still used in this year's Arkansas Business list. SF's ranking at No. 36 is the least reliable on the list since no independent estimate of revenue by Stephens Production Co., the family's Fort Smith natural gas production company, or other SF holdings was available.

Two companies, however, provided revenue figures for the first time in recent memory, making their rankings vastly more reliable:

• Mountaire Corp. of North Little Rock, which reported 2007 revenue of $1.15 billion and moved from No. 6 to No. 3 on the list; and

• No. 72 Russell Chevrolet of Sherwood, which corrected our 2006 estimate of $115 million to $101 million and provided a 2007 revenue figure of $106 million.

Returning to the list this year after one or more years of hiatus are:

• No. 70 May Construction Co. of Little Rock, with $108 million in revenue last year;

• Schmeiding Enterprises Inc. of Springdale, which is ranked No. 73 based on a $101.4 million estimate of 2007 revenue by Hoover's Inc.; and

• No. 74 ERC Properties Inc. of Fort Smith, which is still estimated at $100 million although the company has not provided a revenue figure since 2005.



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