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FRANK BROWN — Making a list, and checking it 100 times



Years ago, one of my journalism mentors stressed to me the importance of lists. “Everybody looks at lists,” he said. “They touch the curiosity that is in each of us.”

He was correct and ahead of his time.

Lists have endured because they are easy to read and convey information quickly. If presented efficiently, lists provide knowledge — and sometimes trivia — to readers. They can also challenge the intellect in a brains vs. data confrontation.

As another mentor said: “There’s no such thing as wasted information.”

Hopefully, the Mississippi 100 list that begins on Page 21 will do all of the above.

This is the 27th year the Mississippi Business Journal has published the Mississippi 100, a locally researched list of the top private businesses that have headquarters in Mississippi.

We publish this list for a couple of reasons. It’s data that puts Mississippi businesses in perspective, and it’s information that is hard to find in one source.

Researcher Wally Northway, who compiled the list for 20 years before retiring last year, visited the Jackson library in the mid-90s to look for ways to improve his research. When he asked for advice, they handed him a copy of the previous year’s Mississippi 100.

Information is more readily available today, but the business climate also changes like the weather.


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What may be a family-owned business one day can suddenly be part of an international corporation. Keeping track of businesses is often like hitting a moving target. Tracking a private company’s revenue trend is like the target returning fire.

We use annual revenue as the list criteria because we feel it illustrates company activity better than profit and loss.

This year, about half the Mississippi 100 openly provided information about their company. The other half did not return requests for information for various reasons — some technical, some forgetful, and some who just didn’t participate.

At that point, we turned to firms like Dun & Bradstreet, Forbes and Bloomberg, as well as company web pages and published articles, for help in determining estimates.

Is every estimate correct? We wish, but probably not. But the real wish for this list is that it represents firms that belong in the Mississippi 100, even if their actual revenue is off a few dollars (or a few million dollars).

Companies on the list also change. Recently, companies purchased by out-of-state equity firms were removed, but upon further review, those companies such as Irby, Viking and Bomgar still have Mississippi headquarters and still meet the criteria. Part of the spirit of the list is to keep Mississippi companies. McAlister’s was founded in Mississippi, but moved its headquarters to Georgia, and is no longer on the list.

In many cases this year, research has discovered companies that have simply been overlooked. We’ve added 25 new firms to this year’s list.

» Frank Brown, a staff writer and projects coordinator, compliled the Mississippi 100 list.


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About Frank Brown