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  •   Top 16 Private Companies
    From the April 27, 1998, Washington Post

    Companies:
    1. Mars Inc.
    2. Mid-Atlantic Cars Inc.
    3. Booz-Allen& Hamilton Inc.
    4. Clark Enterprises Inc.
    5. United Defense LP
    6. DynCorp
    7. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of the National Capital Area
    8. Inova Health System
    9. Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp.
    10. Discovery Communications Inc.
    11. Rosenthal Automotive Group Inc.
    12. Watson Wyatt Worldwide
    13. Medlantic Healthcare Group
    14. Feld Entertainment
    15. Darcars
    16. Ourisman Automotive Enterprises

     

    1 Mars Inc.

    Description: Mars,
    one of the largest candy-making and food-processing companies in the world, is tightly controlled by the Mars family. The company makes M&M's candies, Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers and Mars bars as well as Pedigree dog food, Whiskas cat food, Dove ice cream bars and Uncle Ben's Rice. About 100 employees work at its McLean headquarters, with the rest scattered around the world.

    Developments: The candy-maker got a space-age boost in sales of its namesake product, Mars bars, when the Pathfinder mission touched down on the planet Mars on July 4. The company also benefited from a new trend in Halloween costumes: children and adults dressing as brand-name candy. Costume-makers paid food companies for licensing rights to use their heavily advertised products, and a Toys R Us spokesman said the M&M's costume was its 1997 bestseller for teens and adults.

    TV personality Dick Clark helped launch the latest campaign for M&Ms, with characters claiming the millennium as their own because MM equals 2000 in Roman numerals. "The Nanny" actress Fran Drescher is featured on ads for 3 Musketeers.

    The company last fall opened a confectionery processing plant in Argentina.

    2 Mid-Atlantic Cars Inc.

    Description: Mid-Atlantic Cars is the management company for Brown Automotive Group, the largest auto dealer in the Washington area. It has more than 40 dealerships, mostly in Virginia. The company sells Buick, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Lincoln-Mercury, Nissan, Pontiac, Subaru and Volvo.

    Developments: In December the company opened Brown's Megacar 2 in Manassas, a used-car superstore. It plans to break ground in Chantilly this summer on a mall of dealerships, including Chrysler-Plymouth, Jeep and Nissan among others not yet disclosed. Cuteri said late last year that Mid-Atlantic Cars wants to create small satellite offices in Northern Virginia that will stock only a few cars but will link customers to an inventory of autos via computer. Company officials are considering opening dealer-owned service centers separate from dealerships.

    3 Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc.

    Description: Booz-Allen & Hamilton is an international management and technology consulting firm serving major corporations and government agencies. Its specialties include defense, communications, information technology, environment, transportation, law enforcement, and civil government projects.

    Developments: In 1997 Booz-Allen took on the high-profile task of analyzing problems with the D.C. police department and looking for ways to fix them under a $5 million contract. Its reports, which became public, outlined a department rife with mismanagement, including the discovery of an unguarded warehouse piled high with guns and narcotics.

    The company continued to pull in much larger if less-publicized federal government contracts. In 1997 these included an IRS project to help the agency transform itself to a customer-focused organization; a technical and management support services contract with the General Services Administration; several defense contracts, each worth $20 million to $250 million, with the National Security Agency, Defense Logistics Agency, offices of the secretaries of defense and the Navy, and Army Chemical and Biological Defense Command; and a seven-year, $205 million award with the Food and Drug Administration to provide information technology support.

    Booz-Allen also performed design and engineering services to the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp. and conducted a study for Vision Korea on how to revitalize the Korean economy. Private clients, which made up nearly 60 percent of Booz-Allen's worldwide revenue in 1997, included Mobil Corp., Boeing Co., Ford Motor Co. and the British insurance company Scottish Widows.

    In March the growing firm signed leases to add a third 180,000-square-foot building to its McLean headquarters and to expand into another building next door to its campus.

    4 Clark Enterprises Inc.

    Description: Clark Enterprises is a holding company for a variety of business interests, including real estate development and commercial and residential construction companies. CEI is the parent company of Clark Construction Group Inc., one of the nation's largest general contractors.

    Developments: Clark Construction Group finished work on two major new sports facilities in the Washington area in 1997: the $178 million Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and the $138 million MCI Center.

    The 78,800-seat Cooke stadium, home of the Washington Redskins, was completed in 17 months, a record for any NFL stadium of its kind, the company said. The 20,000-seat MCI Center, home of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals, was finished in November by D.C. Arena Associates, a design/building team lead by Clark and its joint venture partner, Sherman R. Smoot Corp. In March, Clark was chosen as the general contractor for Dulles Town Center, Loudoun County's first regional mall, scheduled to open next year.

    In March Clark Construction acquired Guy F. Atkinson Co. of San Bruno, Calif., a 71-year-old heavy-construction company that was involved in the building of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state and the United Nations headquarters in New York.

    5 United Defense LP

    Description: United Defense is a leading manufacturer and systems integrator of tracked armored combat vehicles and weapons delivery systems, including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M109 self-propelled howitzer. It is owned by the Carlyle Group, a huge Washington-based investment firm chaired by former defense secretary Frank C. Carlucci and involving a number of prominent former government officials. By the end of 1997, the decade-old Carlyle Group, with 110 employees, had invested $2.4 billion and controlled companies with revenue totaling $4.5 billion.

    Developments: United Defense became a private company last year when the Carlyle Group bought the limited partnership interests of FMC Corp. and Harsco Corp. The company is developing simulation projects such as the Bradley Advanced Training System, which allows soldiers to train in a simulated environment. A simulation integration facility in Minneapolis is involved in the development of the Crusader, the Army's future field artillery system.

    6 DynCorp

    Description: Employee-owned DynCorp is a professional services firm and federal government contractor with services ranging from laundry and cooking at military bases to maintaining Air Force jets to running sophisticated computer networks. In the past three years, it has expanded more into the commercial technology marketplace.

    Developments: DynCorp, which has a stated goal of $2.5 billion in revenue by 2001, is on a buying spree, having acquired two information technology companies in the past two years and having its eye on others. In February the company announced it had acquired FMAS, a medical data systems company in Rockville with $17 million in annual revenue.

    The company won a number of large government contracts in the past year, including a $1 billion contract to maintain and repair Air Force weapons systems. A DynCorp subsidiary, DynPort LLC, received a $322 million Defense Department contract last year to develop and produce vaccines to protect U.S. soldiers from biological warfare agents. Earlier this year, DynCorp won a three-year $187 million Census Bureau contract to provide data-gathering services for the 2000 census.

    7 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the National Capital Area

    Description: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of the National Capital Area (BCBSNCA), a nonprofit health care company chartered by Congress in 1934, offers managed care and traditional health insurance programs to individuals and groups in the Washington area. It serves 756,000 members.

    Developments: In January the company became affiliated with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland under a new not-for-profit holding company, CareFirst Inc. of Owings Mills. The companies said the affiliation would create larger physician and hospital networks and more product options. The affiliated companies have a total work force of 5,000, more than $3 billion in annual revenue and 2.3 million members in Washington, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

    In 1997 the company became the first recipient of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's "Turnaround Award" for improved financial performance and stability. Excluding a one-time gain in 1996, fourth-quarter earnings increased to $9 million in 1997, from $6.5 million in 1996.

    8 Inova Health System

    Description: Inova owns Inova Alexandria, Inova Fair Oaks, Inova Fairfax and Inova Mount Vernon hospitals, Inova Hospital for Children and other health services that include home care, nursing homes, mental health services, physician practices, wellness classes and freestanding emergency and urgent care centers. Twenty-nine percent of its revenue last year came from government contracts for Medicare and 7 percent from Medicaid.

    Developments: Inova bought Principal Health Care of the Mid-Atlantic, a local HMO, which was renamed Innovation Health. The purchase signaled the health system's entrance into the managed care industry. Also last year, the Visiting Nurses Association of Northern Virginia and Inova Home Health merged to form Inova VNA Home Health.

    In 1997 Inova Fairfax Hospital was the site of several "firsts" for the Washington area, including the first heart and double-lung transplant and the first out-on-placental-support procedure, which enabled doctors to treat an infant immediately after birth while the placenta was still attached to the mother.

    9 Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp.

    Description: Shoppers Food Warehouse, a discount grocery chain with 37 stores, is the third-largest supermarket operator in the Washington area.

    Developments: In February, Washington businessman Robert Haft and a group of investors made an unsolicited cash bid to buy Shoppers from its ailing parent company, Dart Group Corp. of Landover. That bid was followed this month by a $207 million cash offer for Dart from Richfood Holdings Inc., a Richmond wholesale food distributor that is primarily interested in owning Shoppers. The offer, equivalent to $160 per share, was accepted by the company and is expected to be approved by shareholders. Richfood has said that it plans to "aggressively" expand Shoppers in an effort to take on Giant Food and Safeway, the region's dominant grocery retailers.

    In the past year Shoppers opened three new stores in Virginia -- at Seven Corners, at Potomac Yards in Alexandria and in Fredericksburg. This year it plans to remodel three or four stores and open a Shoppers Club in College Park.

    In the first quarter of last year, Shoppers had a strong performance that gave a boost to its parent company, but sales at the supermarket chain started to decline because of competition from new stores in the market and a price war initiated by Giant Food Inc. Sales at stores open at least a year, considered the best measure of a retailer's performance, fell 12.2 percent in the quarter that ended Jan. 31.

    Shoppers President William J. White is part of a new management team Dart hired last fall to try to shore up the Shoppers chain.

    10 Discovery Communications Inc.

    Description: Discovery Communications is a diversified media company that operates three businesses. Discovery Networks U.S. consists of 10 cable television channels, including the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, Animal Planet, and others specializing in science, home and health. Discovery Networks International transmits 11 networks worldwide via satellite in 20 languages. Discovery Enterprises Worldwide runs online, video, publishing and retail enterprises, including 104 stores of the Nature Company and 18 Discovery Channel stores.

    Developments: In March DCI and the British Broadcasting Corp. finalized an agreement to start a BBC cable TV channel in the United States and to develop other international networks. Discovery will invest $100 million to launch BBC America. The two partners also will produce documentaries together. DCI launched native-language services for the Discovery Channel in Turkey and Japan, raising the number of countries receiving the channel to 147.

    The company opened its flagship Discovery Channel store at MCI Center last month. The store contains three themed floors topped by a theater, a full-scale cast skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, the cockpit of a B-25 bomber and Internet connections, games and other amusements.

    11 Rosenthal Automotive Group Inc.

    Description: Rosenthal has 19 dealerships mostly in the Washington area. The dealerships sell foreign and domestic cars including Acura, Chevrolet, Honda, Infiniti, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep-Eagle, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota.

    Developments: Rosenthal sales for the year rose slightly, up from $846.1 million in fiscal 1996. During 1997, Rosenthal Acura in Gaithersburg, Rosenthal Honda in Tysons Corner, Fairfax Honda, Landmark Honda in Alexandria and Rosenthal Jaguar in Tysons Corner received manufacturers' awards for customer service. At the end of 1997, Bob Rosenthal and Jack Pohanka along with other Washington dealers formed Capital Automotive REIT, the first automotive-only real estate investment trust.

    12 Watson Wyatt Worldwide

    Description: Watson Wyatt Worldwide is an international management consulting firm with offices in 36 countries. Its staff includes consultants, actuaries, attorneys and other specialists in the areas of retirement, health care, strategic human resources, employee benefits and human resources technologies. It has corporate offices in Bethesda and Reigate, England.

    Developments: Over the past year, the company significantly increased its consulting in the area of Virtual HR, its trademark system of using computers and the World Wide Web for human resource transactions, such as benefits enrollment and administration of 401(k) plans.

    The company continued its expansion in the past year, opening new offices in Bangkok and Beijing.

    13 Medlantic Healthcare Group

    Description: Medlantic Healthcare Group is the largest hospital network in the District. It owns Washington Hospital Center, its flagship facility, National Rehabilitation Hospital, two nursing homes and 10 other subsidiaries, including the Medlantic Research Institute, Visiting Nurses Association and several physician practices.

    Developments: Medlantic has tentatively agreed to merge with Helix Health of Baltimore, with a final decision due from both boards of directors next month. The merger would unite the two largest health care systems in the two cities and create a nonprofit giant with nearly $1.4 billion in revenue, 21,000 employees and a regional network of health care facilities. The deal would prevent an expensive marketing war and medical arms race if the two started to expand into each other's territory. The combined resources also would give them a competitive edge in gaining contracts with health insurance plans.

    Washington Hospital Center in October debuted its new international services program which provides interpreting services in 26 languages for its patients. The hospital center also opened a 30-room wing of guest suites in June for families of out-of-town patients.

    Medlantic recently formed a partnership with the new Surgery Center of Chevy Chase.

    14 Feld Entertainment

    Description: Feld Entertainment owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and produces other live shows, including Walt Disney's World on Ice, Wizard of Oz on Ice and the Las Vegas show of illusionists Siegfried & Roy. It is one of the world's largest producers of live entertainment. The company created a clown college in 1968 and established a center for elephant conservation in Florida in 1995. Kenneth Feld entered the family business in 1970 and inherited it after his father, Irvin Feld, the company's founder, died in 1984.

    Developments: When Stuart Snyder took over as the chief operating officer of Feld Entertainment in early 1997, it was a departure for a company that until then had kept top management in the founding family. Snyder said one of his goals was to widen the marketing and licensing of the Feld brand name, which already was on lines of animal crackers, bicycle helmets and marshmallow candy "peanuts."

    In 1997 the circus debuted its "Three-Ring Adventure," which allows ticket-holders to come into the ring an hour before the show to swing on a trapeze, walk a low wire, try juggling and talk to performers.

    New Feld productions in 1998 will include "Goosebumps Live!", a live stage show based on the best-selling stories of R.L. Stine, and "Anastasia on Ice," produced through an agreement with 20th Century Fox. In March, the company introduced Ringling Online (www.ringling.com), a Web site that features circus information, ticket sales and games.

    15 Darcars

    Description: Darcars is an automobile dealership holding company operating 16 locations in the Washington area. The company also owns four dealerships in Florida. The company sells Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Eagle, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Plymouth, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

    Developments: Darcars opened two Kia franchises in May and a new Mitsubishi dealership in Silver Spring in September. It also expanded its used car business by opening a certified Toyota used vehicle dealership in Silver Spring in May. The company increased revenues for the 21st straight year.

    16 Ourisman Automotive Enterprises

    Description: Ourisman owns 11 automobile dealerships and one car-leasing company in the Washington area. The dealerships sell new and used cars and trucks, including Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Suzuki.

    Developments: Ourisman hopes to add another import franchise this spring. In 1997 the company invested several million dollars in upgrading several of its dealerships.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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