Sunday, November 10, 2002

These 100 show best of can-do spirit



By Jerry Reichert
Enquirer contributor

Privately owned businesses continue to be critical to the growth, prosperity and leadership of the country.

The entrepreneurs leading these businesses create many opportunities not only within their organizations, but also within the communities within which they operate. Despite their many contributions, national recognition of these leaders' efforts is limited.

Locally, however, the Greater Cincinnati 100 was created to formally recognize and say thanks to the 100 largest privately held businesses in the Greater Cincinnati area, as well as to raise local awareness of the many economic and noneconomic contributions of all the area's privately owned businesses.

Countless people, including myself, wake up every morning excited about the prospects of working in or with these dynamic organizations.

The past year's economic contributions of these 100 largest companies are, in a word, stunning. They generated almost $15 billion in sales and employ almost 71,000 people. Collectively, these organizations would rank along with Kroger Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Federated Department Stores Inc. in revenues of the largest local public companies. They would similarly rank among the largest employers.

Equally impressive is the fact that these businesses were able to report collective sales and employment increases over the prior year despite extremely challenging economic, political and regulatory conditions.

The current year's growth is attributable to a variety of factors, including the diversity of the products and services these organizations provide. These businesses generate more than $1.5 billion in sales of manufactured, distributed, retail and automotive products, as well as construction and other services.

Looking ahead, the leaders of these select organizations, not surprisingly, see continued opportunities for sustained profitable growth despite the less-than-robust economic conditions we are experiencing.

If history is a predictor of the future, I wouldn't bet against this group. Over the past decade, they collectively have reported sales growth of more than 5 percent a year, created more than 5,000 jobs and continuously improved the productivity of their respective businesses

The creativity, vision, passion, boundless optimism and relentless "can-do" energy of the leadership of these businesses permeates their organizations, and ultimately will translate into tangible and intangible benefits for all with whom they come in contact.

Fortunately for all of us, these leaders also have a real appreciation for stewardship. More than 75 percent of those responding to a survey indicated that they intend to transition their business to the next generation or to their management team.

A number of companies in this year's Cincinnati 100 were also among the top 100 at the inception of the program in 1983. Let's hope we see at least as many in 2023.

The economic contributions of these businesses can be quantified and chronicled as noted. However, their collective contributions to our community are virtually indeterminable. Not only do the leaders and their respective enterprises provide significant financial support to civic, charitable, educational and other community institutions, they also provide countless hours of their time and the time of their workers.

In addition, these leaders take a keen interest in enhancing and perpetuating the quality of life in the Greater Cincinnati area. They think more investment and focus is needed in:

• Public education.

• Cooperation among local and county governments in the region.

• A coalition of business and government for local economic development.

• Public transportation.

Continued community support is a key element in all of these companies' respective mission statements and business models.

All privately owned business owners and, in particular, the 100 recognized this year, should pause and celebrate their success with their teammates.

I would encourage all of us to similarly pause and take a moment to say thanks to these businesses for their continued contributions to our great community.

Jerry Reichert is a partner at Deloitte & Touche, sponsor of the Greater Cincinnati 100.



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