AFRICANGLOBE – The prophetic words uttered by Booker T. Washington just before the dawn of the 20th century have not been muted by the passage of time.
Washington, who was born on a Virginia slave plantation and went on to found the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, famously declared that a man’s level of success is measured by “the obstacles which he has overcome.”
And, as the only Black man permitted to address the 1895 Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition at Piedmont Park, Washington repeatedly urged freed Blacks to “cast down your bucket where you are,” rather than migrate north with hopes of escaping the discrimination that dampened their entrepreneurial dreams.
Twelve decades later, Washington’s words still resonate around town.
Unless a drastic shift in Census Bureau studies occurs, metro Atlanta will remain a locus for Black business ownership in 2015 and beyond.
The most recent Census “Survey of Business Owners” (SBO) found that the number of Black-owned businesses increased by triple the rate of the national average among all races. The survey ranked Georgia second only to New York among U.S. states with the most Black-owned businesses.
Every five years, Black Enterprise magazine ranks America’s 100 most successful black-owned businesses. Based on the magazine’s research for 2014, metro Atlanta placed eight firms on the list.
Most of those companies are rooted in the construction, contracting and hospitality industries and headquartered in Atlanta. But enterprises based in the suburbs and focused on high-tech innovation figured prominently as well.
Here are the “Elite Eight” Atlanta-area businesses named in Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the 100 largest Black-owned businesses in the US. (In reverse order.)
86) MEM Enterprises 1, Ltd., Smyrna
Founded by intellectual property rights attorney Michael E. Melton, MEM Enterprises owns and manages 20 Taco Bell restaurants and five Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises.
CEO: Michael E. Melton
Industry: Quick service restaurants
Staff size: 677
Reported Revenue (in millions): $31.212
83) Engineering Design Technologies Inc., Marietta
Founded in 1993, EDT specializes in the comprehensive design and construction of roads and bridges, military facilities, airport infrastructure, collegiate centers, clinics and commercial projects.
CEO: Dr. Anthony Taylor
Industry: Construction, energy, health care, transportation/warehousing
Staff size: 110
Reported Revenue (in millions): $34.000
72) B & S Electric Supply Co., Inc. Atlanta
Founded in 1977, B & S sells, distributes and installs electrical products utilized by Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, MARTA, General Motors Corp., Toyota and Proctor & Gamble.
CEO: Clarence W. Robie
Industry: Electrical equipment supplier
Staff size: 24
Reported Revenue (in millions): $39.107
57) C.D. Moody Construction Co., Inc., Lithonia
Founded in 1988, C.D. Moody has excelled in the construction and contracted facilitation of building and restoring projects including: Underground Atlanta, Turner Field, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Phillips Arena.
CEO: C. David Moody Jr.
Industry: Contracting and construction management
Staff size: 45
Reported Revenue (in millions): $58.000
36) Jackmont Hospitality, Atlanta
Rooted in the Depression Era food service businesses run by the family of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson Jr., Jackmont provides meals at airports, hospitals, colleges and school systems nationwide. In addition, Jackmont is one of America’s fastest growing TGI Friday’s restaurant franchisees.
CEO: Daniel J. Halpern
Industry: Quick service restaurants, food services
Staff size: 2,100
Reported Revenue (in millions): $94.000
27) Benton – Georgia L.L.C., Douglasville
Founded in 1914, Benton specializes in the installation of liquid, gas and oil pipelines as well as construction of processing stations nationwide. Benton serves industry leaders including: Piedmont Natural Gas, Energen, Markwest and AGL Resources.
CEO: Dale LeFebvre
Industry: Construction materials, equipment supplier
Staff size: 825
Reported Revenue (in millions): $131.000
24) The Gourmet Cos., Atlanta
Founded originally in Charlotte, N.C. in 1975, Gourmet Services partners with major fast food franchises (Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Planet Smoothie) to source ingredients and provides meals at a growing string of hospitals, municipalities, correctional facilities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
CEO: Nathaniel R. Goldston lll
Industry: Food services, facilities management, concessions
Staff size: 1,050
Reported Revenue (in millions): $138.000
13) H.J. Russell & Co., Atlanta
Founded in 1952, H.J. Russell is a world-renowned standard bearer for commercial and residential real estate development, general construction and property management. Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, Woodruff Library, History Center, Symphony Hall, Georgia Aquarium and 12 area Target stores bear the marks of H.J. Russell’s expertise.
CEO: Michael B. Russell
Industry: Construction, real estate, and food concessions
Staff size: 1,344
Reported Revenue (in millions): $269.271
By: A. Scott Walton