The county’s largest minority-owned businesses are coming off a tough 2009 by hiring in anticipation of a better 2010.
This week’s Business Journal list of 50 minority-owned businesses saw about 125 local workers added in the past 12 months—most in recent months—for a total of 8,323 workers in Orange County.
Total hiring here and across the globe for all the companies was up 3% in the past 12 months to 18,069 workers.
The hiring comes after a challenging 2009 that saw lower sales for most, cost cutting and tempered corporate and consumer spending.
Sales for the group last year were $9.7 billion, up 5% from 2008. But that figure was skewed by two big gainers, No. 1 Fountain Valley-based Kingston Technology Co. and No. 2 Irvine-based Vizio Inc.
Without them in the mix, revenue for the 48 other companies slid 4% to $3.1 billion.
Fourteen of the companies reported lower 2009 revenue. Ten were up. Two companies reported flat sales. Figures for 24 companies are Business Journal estimates, with many figured to be down, depending on their industry.
With revenue mostly down last year and employment up during the past two months, the list paints a split picture.
Many companies appear to be rebounding.
No. 12 Santa Ana-based Express Manufacturing Inc. has added 47 people locally in the past 12 months for a total of 697 workers.
In all, the maker of circuit boards and other electronics has added 415 employees worldwide in the past 12 months for a total of 1,065 people.
The 64% jump in companywide employment was the most of any company on the list.
The hiring comes after a 7% drop in 2009 sales to $73.4 million.
Most of Express Manufacturing’s hiring has been at the company’s EMI Asia Ltd. unit, which runs a 120,000-square-foot factory in China, spokesman John Koon said.
Most of the renewed demand for the company’s products is in Asia, he said.
No. 5 Buena Park-based Tawa Supermarket Inc., operator of the 99 Ranch chain of Asian grocery stores, saw a 55% rise in local employment with the opening of stores. The company employs 650 people locally and its total employment rose 11% to 2,000 people.
In a sign of a larger employment turnaround, No. 26 Santa Ana-based Alar Staffing Corp., a provider of light industrial workers, saw its local administrative staff grow 43% to 30 people to handle more demand from employers.
The other story on the list—2009 revenue—was as expected.
A depressed national and local real estate market buried many construction projects before they broke ground, severely hurting companies such as No. 11 Aliso Viejo-based Pacific Rim Capital Inc. and No. 34 Anaheim-based DEB Construction Inc., which saw two of the three biggest sales drops.
Pacific Rim, which leases vehicles and construction equipment, saw 2009 revenue fall 21% to $105.9 million, pushing the company down one spot from last year to No. 11.
Construction company DEB saw a 65% plunge in 2009 revenue—the biggest percentage decline on the list—to $15.9 million. That dropped the company to No. 34 from No. 15 last year.
Among those reporting higher 2009 sales, Kingston Technology was up 2.5% to $4.1 billion and easily held the list’s top spot, as it has for years.
The increase came from an improving economy in the second half of 2009 and rising memory chip prices after a slump.
The company’s owned by David Sun, who is Taiwanese, and John Tu, who is Chinese.
Vizio turned in the highest sales jump on the list with a 25% gain to $2.5 billion in 2009 revenue. The company’s $500 million in added revenue easily was the biggest gain by actual dollar amount.
Strong holiday sales helped Vizio ship more than 1.8 million TVs in the fourth quarter and top 5.9 million units for the year, nearly double that of 2008.
William Wang, a Taiwanese immigrant, runs Vizio.
Despite the growth, Vizio actually cut its local employees from 139 to 117 in the past 12 months.
The cuts came with the opening of a support and sales office in South Dakota. Vizio added 79 workers outside the county.
Five newcomers made the list this year: No. 7 Bascom Group, an Irvine owner and operator of apartments and other real estate; No. 14 Foothill Ranch-based Venus Group Inc., a seller of bed sheets, linens, towels and uniforms made in Asia; No. 17 Family Tree Produce Inc. of Anaheim, which supplies produce to stores and restaurants; No. 23 Foothill Ranch-based iBaseT, a software provider; and No. 48 Santa Ana-based Technology Resource Center Inc., a service provider to utilities.
The list includes OC-based companies that are at least 51% owned by Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians and Native Americans. In general, we follow federal guidelines on minorities, which exclude Arabs, Iranians, Armenians and others.
Businesses owned by those of Hispanic descent are the most common on the list at 24, followed by Asians, including East Indians, at 21. A handful of companies include a mix of Hispanic, Asian or other owners.