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List mirrors large segment of state economy

At 21 years old, The Top 100 is still the only definitive gauge of the most successful companies in state

The Mississippi Business Journal began its annual Top 100 ranking in 1989. Twenty-one years later, “The Mississippi 100” is still the only definitive ranking of Mississippi’s top privately held companies.

The list is a mirror of a large chunk of the state economy. It shows Mississippians who they are financially, where they might be gaining and where they might be losing.

Mississippi’s top 25 largest homegrown industries involve oil, construction, electronics, lighting, cotton, tires, wireless coverage, agriculture, food distribution, sound equipment, transportation, automobiles, furniture, gaming, banking, pizza and catfish.

The oldest company on the list is No. 78, Ross & Yerger Insurance Inc., founded by Dudley Wooley in 1860. The top five companies listed have been in business for at least 40 years.

A total of 11 companies on the list were founded in the 1950s. Twelve were founded in the 1960s. Ten in the 1970s. Twenty-four in the 1980s. And 15 were founded in the 1990s.

Impressive are the nine companies who have made the cut and were founded within the past decade. The youngest Mississippi 100 companies, in order of appearance, are:

>> No. 8 — Southern Tire Mart, LLC, founded 2003

>> No. 63 — Barksdale Cadillac, founded in 2007

>> No. 68 — Bomgar Corporation, founded 2003

>> No. 75 — Security Credit Services, founded 2003

>> No. 76 — Thrash Commercial Contractors Inc., founded 2001

>> No. 79 — HM Williams Construction Inc., founded 2007

>> No. 95 — Watkins Partners, founded 2004

>> No. 97 — Camgian Microsystems Corporation, founded 2006

Making the Cut

The MBJ strives every year to refine its criteria and improve its list of independent, for-profit companies corporately headquartered in the Mississippi. Companies are ranked by revenue, whether self-reported or estimated by our staff. Generally, only companies with sales revenues in excess of $1 million make the list.

Editor Ross Reily likes to say: “If the CEO comes in every morning and puts his briefcase down by a chair in Mississippi, it’s a Mississippi company.” Deciding which companies will make the cut is not always a black-and-white process.

Thus, a major newcomer to this year’s list is No. 5, Stuart C. Irby Co. Although bought by Sonepar in 2005, Irby was founded by a Mississippi family and has been headquartered in Jackson for almost 85 years.

In the past Mississippi’s electric power associations have made this list. However, in the interest of consistently including only for-profit companies, they’ve been removed this year.

The daunting task of compiling the Mississippi 100 is performed by MBJ researcher Stephen McDill.

For companies previously making the cut that didn’t provide updated 2009 numbers, revenue from the prior year is used and adjusted based on the change in a particular industry nationwide and globally.

General 2009 market trends were no surprise: Real estate and construction were down considerably. Catfish and telecomm were also down, while the tech and pharmaceutical industries were up.

If prior numbers aren’t available to adjust, McDill finds average salaries for a particular industry’s employees and multiplies that number by the number of company employees.

The response for 2009 numbers was lower than usual, which may be due to the economic downturn.

“About 50 percent of the companies ranked in our 2009 list were unresponsive this year. I attribute this to the late recession hit that Mississippi experienced. Companies that lost revenue could be keeping a lower profile at this time,” McDill said.

Listing in The Mississippi 100 is free. For more information, contact McDill at (601) 364-1041, or e-mail him at research@msbusiness.com.

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