Private 100 list illuminates private sector

-A A +A
By Harold Morgan

The New Mexico Private 100 began in 1988 as a promotion. I was there as an employee of the old Sunwest Bank and served as media coordinator. Sunwest was a sponsor.
The Private 100 is a list of the largest privately held New Mexico-based companies (sort of), a rah-rah publication (an issue of the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook) and a recent celebratory lunch with a motivational speaker. Three sponsors bought full-page ads — an accountancy, Moss Adams LLP; a law firm, Modrall Sperling and Bank of America.
While celebrating and honoring are the official descriptions, the Private 100 has to remain a promotion, however laid back, discrete, perhaps even subtle. Buying lunch for 150, or so would be wasteful without some return. The sponsors’ idea was to corral leaders of large private companies around the lunch table, tell them they are cool and talk to them. In time the hope is that conversations will turn into business for the sponsors.
The Private 100 offers some insights about the state, though nothing definitive because the listed companies are self-selected. If a company doesn’t want on the list, it is left off. Companies are ranked by sales, though the list supplies no numbers. A number came from Summit Electric Supply (No. 2) where summit.com reports 2012 sales of $384.6 million. Summit has service centers in 23 markets and in Dubai.
The 1988 list had 24 auto dealers. This year it is three. In 1988 Don Chalmers was in Tulsa. Now Don Chalmers Ford Inc. ranks tenth. Some of the 1988 group are gone. The Lloyd McKee site in Albuquerque is home to a Larry H. Miller dealership, one of five in Albuquerque. So much for the small, family operated car store. Others are very much around, just not on this year’s list for whatever reason.
What economic developers call the “basic economy” is of particular interest. Companies in this arena sell their stuff outside the home market and thereby bring money into the home market. Retailers, auto dealers and restaurants, such as the three-location (No.100) Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café, are not considered in the basic economy.
This year’s sponsors complicated analysis by inventing categories instead of sticking to the standard government groupings, not that the government categories are especially useful. The categories of technology and life sciences, manufacturing and energy account for 26 companies. Only two are energy companies, which seems odd. We have other local energy firms of size. Either they chose not to play, or somehow were not eligible.
Another category adds confusion — professional services, insurance and other financial services. Anyone still thinking that Española’s Akal Security Inc., (No. 1), remains only local is long out of date. Akal’s website says the company operates in 40 states and 20 counties.
A few years ago we learned that trucking firm Mesilla Valley Transportation of Las Cruces (No. 3), operates far from New Mexico. We saw a Mesilla Valley trailer at a rest stop in Iowa. At m-v-t.com, Mesilla Valley says it serves “all major manufacturing centers” in North America.
My “most interesting” award goes to Computational Analysis and Network Enterprise Solutions, LLC, caanes.com, (No. 96), a 2006 spinoff of New Mexico Tech. Teams function “as cyber warriors offering detailed reports of critical vulnerabilities.”
Clearly New Mexico has business people able to build companies of size and be successful far beyond our borders. The top three firms lie outside the high-tech, high-value, high-wage Albuquerque/Santa Fe mantra central to the state’s economic development thinking.
But we have a way to go. In one of those quaint and annoying New Mexico quirks, three of the companies have no website.