Truman Arnold Widens Lead Among Largest Companies

(Click here to see the list of the 75 largest private companies.)

Truman Arnold Cos., the fuel and aviation services supplier from the "wrong" side of Texarkana, tops the Arkansas Business list of the state's largest private companies for the second consecutive year.

And handily. TAC reported nearly $1.27 billion in revenue for 2001, an increase of 23 percent from 2000. And it's almost three times the revenue the company reported in 1999.

Arkansas Business has traditionally treated Texarkana as a single city and claimed all of it as an integral part of the Arkansas economy — at least for purposes of this annual list, which ranks private companies by revenue.

Like last year, two of the 10 largest private companies — No. 1 Truman Arnold Cos. and No. 6 E-Z Mart Inc. are actually located on the Texas side of State Line Avenue.

And, as in past years, the top of the list remains suspect because Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, long unchallenged as the state's largest private company, has continued its policy of releasing no revenue information. Arkansas Business has stuck with an estimate of $900 million.

That arbitrary decision means Stephens has dropped to No. 3 on the list, trading places with last year's No. 3, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. ABCBS's reported 2001 revenue of $926.5 million is an increase of 17.3 percent over its 2000 revenue of $789.8 million.

When this list was compiled a year ago, ABCBS reported revenue of $874.9 million for 2000; the company has now revised that figure downward. It still would have ranked third on last year's list, but only a smidgen ahead of Affiliated Foods Southwest Inc. of Little Rock.

Affiliated maintains its No. 4 ranking this year with $784 million in sales. But last year, the grocery cooperative apparently should have ranked fifth. The company has revised downward its 2000 figure, from the $773 million that was reported last year to $735 million, which would have put it behind Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart.

Riceland, the victim of depressed rice prices, reported a decrease in income of almost 3 percent for 2001.

New Names

Three companies were new to the list this year, and all of them undoubtedly should have been on the list in previous years. They are:

• No. 32, World Wide Travel of Little Rock, whose 2001 revenue was estimated at $190 million;

• No. 49, Teeter Motor Co. of Malvern, with estimated revenue of $110 million; and

• Central Moloney Inc. of Pine Bluff, whose revenue was estimated at $80 million. Central Moloney is a leading manufacturer of electrical transformers.

The three displaced Nelms Auto Stores of Fayetteville, last year's No. 53; Carco Transportation Systems Inc. of Fort Smith, last year's No. 73; and Communications Management Specialists of Little Rock, last year's No. 74.

Most of the Nelms operations were sold last year to Landers Auto Group, part of publicly traded United Auto Group. Communications Management Specialists was sold in February 2001 Scientel LLC of Downers Grove, Ill., a subsidiary of Scientech Inc. of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Carco dropped from the list because its revenue in 2001 was down to $44.2 million (compared with $65.9 million in 2000). That just wasn't enough to rank among the top 75.

Big Moves

Riverside Furniture Corp. of Fort Smith didn't drop off the list completely like Carco, but it did make the longest drop — 17 places, from No. 52 to No. 69.

Riverside's president, Howard J. "Buddy" Spradlin, blamed last year's recession for the furniture manufacturer's 22 percent drop in revenue last year — down to $80 million from $103 million the year before.

The number of employees also dropped, from 1,400 in 2000 to 1,000 in 2001. But Spradlin said he recently had hired back almost 50 workers because sales were on the upswing again.

Replacement Parts Inc. of Little Rock, the parent company of Crow Burlingame Co. and Parts Warehouse, moved up as many spots as Riverside Furniture moved down, thanks to a 46 percent increase in revenue.

Company spokeswoman Marge Liddle pointed out that the company has added 24 retail outlets in the past year, despite increased competition in the auto parts market from O'Reilly Automotive of Springfield, Mo.

Bringing up the rear for the second-straight year was Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock. It maintained its place at No. 75 despite a 10.5 percent increase in revenue, from $60.2 million in 2000 to $66.5 million in 2001.

Largest Private Employers
By Number of Employees

1 — Baptist Health — 7,200

2 — O.K. Industries Inc. — 4,500

3 — Stephens Group Inc. — 4,470

4 — Simmons Foods Inc. — 4,300

5 — Mountaire Corp. — 3,100

5 — E-Z Mart Inc. — 3,100

7 — K-Mac Enterprises Inc. — 2,801

8 — Sparks Health System Inc. — 2,750

9 — Harps Food Stores Inc. — 2,566

10 — Affiliated Foods Southwest Inc. — 2,350

Oldest Companies
The oldest companies among the state's 75 largest private companies are:

Company — Year founded

1 — Dyke Industries Inc. — 1866

2 — E.C. Barton & Co. — 1885

3 — Sparks Health System Inc. — 1887

4 — A. Tenenbaum Co. — 1890

5 — St. Bernards Health Care Inc. — 1900

6 — Anthony Timberlands Inc. — 1907

7 — Arkansas Children's Hospital Inc. — 1910

8 — Bale Chevrolet Co. — 1912

9 — Mountaire Corp. — 1914

10 — Replacement Parts Inc. — 1919