High Fuel Prices Send TAC Back to Top

Arkansas' 75 Largest Companies
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The price of fuel is up and so, of course, is Truman Arnold Cos.' ranking on Arkansas Business' annual list of the largest private companies in Arkansas.

The fact that the Texarkana company is actually located on the west side of the Texas-Arkansas border is always problematic, but Arkansas Business has traditionally treated the city as a single economic unit. Recent expansion in Arkansas by TAC makes the Texan's ranking a bit easier to take.

This is the third time in four years that TAC has reigned supreme. The wholesaler of petroleum products was unseated briefly last year (by the Stephens Group Inc. of Little Rock) when the price of oil tanked in 2002.

TAC — headed since September by Greg Arnold, son of the founder — enjoyed a 45.3 percent

increase in revenue during 2003 when compared with 2002. Its self-reported revenue last year was just over $1.2 billion.

Still, it hasn't climbed back to the record $1.267 billion reported in 2001.

On April 28, TAC's Arkansas Terminaling and Transportation division opened two new 80,000-barrel storage tanks and additional truck loading tanks at its "tank farm" at 2207 Central Airport Road near Galloway Road and Interstate 440 in North Little Rock.

The facility is a joint venture between TAC and Coulson Oil Group of North Little Rock — No. 23 on the list of private companies — and "represents TAC's plans for significant investment in central Arkansas," according to a company statement.

No. 2 this year is Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, whose revenue reached $907 million in 2003. That isn't a record, either. In 2001, ABCBS reported $926.5 million in sales, which dropped to $848.5 million last year.

The Stephens Group drops to No. 3 on the list, with estimated revenue of $900 million. But that estimate, which has held steady for several years, is the least reliable on the list; the Stephens Group is so close-to-the-vest and its holdings so vast and diverse that coming up with a solid estimate of its revenue in any given year is impossible.

Of the 75 companies on this year's list, 60 provided 2003 revenue figures, as did a number of other companies whose revenue did not rank them among the top 75. Others were estimated from figures they gave last year, from entries (many of them self-reported) in the 2004 edition of Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Directory, or from industry-specific sources. If a revenue figure is not footnoted on the list, it was provided directly by the company.

New to the list this year — although it certainly should have been there previously — is Bruce Oakley Inc. of North Little Rock. Entering at No. 36 with revenue of $178.5 million, Oakley was also one of the fastest growing in 2003. Its revenue increased 35.6 percent from 2002.

Founded in 1968 and now headed by the founder's son, Dennis Oakley, the company transports bulk cargo by barge and truck and wholesales grain and fertilizer.

Displaced by Bruce Oakley was Teeter Motor Co. of Malvern, last year's No. 72 with $79 million in revenue in 2002. That figure dropped to $54 million in 2003 after owner Darrell Teeter sold his Cadillac-GMC-Oldsmobile franchise at Camden.

Another company that jettisoned holdings last year was E-Z Mart Inc., also of Texarkana. It has pared off about 40 stores in recent months, and its revenue in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was down $10 million. Still, with sales of $559.7 million, E-Z Mart held onto its spot at No. 10.

Little Rock Dodge took a tumble from No. 34 with $172 million in revenue last year to No. 70 with $82.5 million in sales, mainly because it has all but abandoned low-margin fleet sales.

No. 75 on the list is Twin Rivers Group Inc., a Fayetteville poultry processor, with sales estimated at $68.8 million. The price of entry to last year's list was significantly higher, $77.9 million.

Largest Private Companies
Ranked by Employees

Rank —?Company —?Total Employees

1 —?Baptist Health, Little Rock —?7,200
2 —?Mountaire Corp., North Little Rock —?5,326
3 —?Stephens Group Inc., Little Rock —?4,470
4 —?George's Inc., Springdale —?4,200
5 —?Simmons Foods Inc., Siloam Springs —?4,000
6 —?O.K. Industries Inc., Fort Smith —?4,000
7 —?K-Mac Enterprises Inc., Fort Smith —?3,000
8 —?E-Z Mart Inc., Texarkana, Texas —?2,800
9 —?Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock —?2,528
10 —?Harps Food Stores Inc., Springdale —?2,500