April 26, 1999
Putting together the Top 200, as I have for the past few years, is a bit like leafing through the family album. There are children who have grown up (America Online going from a $360 million company in 1994 to a $2.6 billion company last year).
There are familiar images no longer part of the family (Hechinger, Giant Food and MCI are among companies acquired in the past two years). There are new faces, instilling a sense of optimism about the future (high-tech entrants MicroStrategy and Network Solutions).
Each edition of the Top 200 adds new snapshots of the region's business community to the collection. This year's photos offer some insights: The region's companies are growing at a breakneck pace. The smallest company to make this year's list of the area's biggest companies was Dunn Computer, with $66.9 million in revenue. That's a 28 percent jump in revenue from the smallest company on last year's list.
The region's business community is dynamic. There are 32 new companies among the Top 200 this year, a 16 percent turnover. The area's Top 200 companies are job-creation machines, employing almost 113,000 people in the Washington area, roughly 5 percent of the region's total work force.
That last point brings us to the theme of this year's edition the intersection of these companies and our lives. Even if you're not employed by a Top 200 company (and everyone who worked on this project is The Washington Post ranks No. 17 this year), chances are someone you know a friend, a neighbor or a relative is. The Top 200 isn't merely an exercise in numbers crunching but an opportunity to put a face on the region's business community.
To that end, a group of reporters, with the help of demographic data supplied by David Barie from The Post's marketing staff, set out to profile "typical" Washington workers at some of these 200 firms. Among the people we found:
An engineer and mother of three who commutes two hours each day, spends nine hours at the office, checks e-mail from home after the kids go to bed and worries about balancing her career and her family;
A 30-year-old software engineer who after spending 18 months at his company is one of the most senior members on staff and who revels in owning stock options;
And a lawyer transplanted from L.A. who is struck by how few billboards there are in the area.
And so, what follows are profiles of the companies that shape the business community and the people who shape the companies a sort of family album for 1999. We hope you'll find in it a reflection of yourself, keep it around and refer to it often throughout the year.
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company