The biggest minority-owned businesses based in Orange County combined for $12.8 billion in revenue last year, a 5.5% increase from a year earlier.
This week’s Business Journal list uses annual revenue as the ranking criterion for 59 local companies that are at least 51% owned by minorities, including Latino-Americans, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. The designations of minority status are according to federal guidelines.
The list includes other categories, such as OC and companywide employee counts, though they don’t figure into the ranking.
The annual list has been growing in recent years, a byproduct of improved research and a strengthening economy. This year’s list includes 31% more companies than last year’s total of 45, and 78% more than two years ago. The revenue cutoff for inclusion on the list was $7 million last year.
A lower bar this year—companies needed $5 million in annual revenue to qualify—accounted for a small portion of the increase in the number of entries.
The featured businesses cover a wide range of industries, from real estate to electronics manufacturing and from clinical testing to grocery chains.
The host of newcomers on various rungs of the list makes a list-versus-list comparison tough, but the big-picture indication is that OC’s minority-owned enterprises had a stronger 2013 in terms of revenue after dipping in 2012.
About half of the companies on the list—30—reported revenue increases in 2013, with 19 notching double or triple percentage gains. Nine companies had declines, and four saw revenue stay the same. Figures for 16 companies were based on Business Journal estimates.
The companies collectively made 188 hires in their OC operations for a total of 8,781 employees. That’s up 2.2% year-over-year, about in line with the 2.4% gain in Orange County jobs in 2013. They also combined for a 7% increase in companywide employment, hiring more than 3,000 over the year for a total of 45,282.
The perennial No. 1 company, Kingston Technology Corp., had $5.4 billion in revenue last year, up by $400 million, according to a Business Journal estimate. The Fountain Valley-based manufacturer of computers and memory products is owned by cofounders John Tu and David Sun, who serve as chief executive and chief operating officer, respectively.
The estimated gain in revenue is based on higher prices for its DRAM products in a year that amounted to a recovery period following a glut of supply in 2012.
Kingston has 750 employees in OC, down by about 6% year-over-year. It employs more than 4,100 workers overall, down 1%.
Alorica Inc. was a newcomer to the list and landed at No. 4, with $570 million in revenue for 2013, up about 1%. The call-center operator, founded in 1999 by Andy Lee, moved its headquarters to Irvine from Chino in late 2012.
Alorica has 73 employees in its OC headquarters, down by two over the past year. It operates more than 40 contact centers globally and has made 2,811 hires over the past year for a total of 20,027 employees.
Alorica’s hiring spree accounted for about 92% of the list’s collective companywide employment growth.
“This past year has been a year of growth … and [2014 so far] is going really well, and we are experiencing double-digit growth,” Lee said. “Some of our 2014 plans are to target growth in a few specific verticals,” including in the healthcare, retail and financial services sectors.
The company recently announced additions to its executive management team, including new hires Art DiBari as chief operating officer and James Molloy as chief accounting officer.
Newport Beach-based investment bank Fairbridge Capital Partners had a 116% jump in revenue, the largest percentage increase on the list. The firm, also a newcomer to the list, ranked No. 57 with $6.3 million in revenue last year, versus $2.9 million in 2012. Fairbridge is headed by Ed Prado and has five employees here and 25 companywide.
No. 20 DEB Construction Inc. had the second-largest revenue growth, with a 55% jump to $40 million.
The Anaheim-based general contractor has 50 employees, 33 of which are in Orange County. The newly listed company specializes in commercial construction, primarily for financial institutions and medical facilities.
“We saw a significant increase in revenue and opportunities last year,” said Adam Vali, president and a second-generation owner. His father, an immigrant from India, founded DEB in 1975 in Anaheim, initially working on residential projects. Vali took over as president in 1994 and recently bought out his partners and became 100% owner.
Vali said the company has grown steadily over the years, though it was hit hard when the economy crashed in 2008.
“It’s been slowly building back since then,” Vali said. “We’re now at about two-thirds of our peak, which was in 2007. Last year was the first year we saw a comeback with some strength.”
No. 11 Yogurtland Franchising Inc. had $143 million in revenue last year, up about 27%. The Irvine-based frozen yogurt company has 140 employees locally after hiring 35 last year. Companywide employment grew by 26 to 250.
“During 2013 we grew from 201 stores to about 270 stores,” Chief Executive Huntley Castner said. “We also entered several new markets, Australia being the most important one. It was a great success for us. We opened 14 stores there in 2013.”
Yogurtland is planning to open 70 stores globally this year, including about 15 in Australia.
Castner, who joined Yogurtland in 2011 as chief operating officer, recently took the chief executive post after the company’s founder and owner, Phillip Chang, stepped down to focus on Christian missionary work.
“Phillip and I have been working on this transition for a couple of years,” Castner said. “He is overseas a lot now, trying to spend time working to help others, primarily in Asia. That encompasses schools, churches and dorms, all sorts of things for underserved and underprivileged kids. We feel good about supporting his efforts there.”
Companies with decreases in 2013 revenues included Wahoo’s Fish Taco, a Santa Ana-based restaurant chain operator. The company, owned by Wing Lam, Renato Lee and Ed Lee, had $52 million in 2013 revenue, off by about 4%. Wahoo’s Fish Taco has 380 workers in OC, down slightly from a year ago; it has 900 overall, down 10%.
Irvine-based architecture and design firm gkkworks had a 14% drop in revenue to $134 million, good for the No. 13 spot. The firm, which is headed by founder and Chief Executive Praful Kulkarni, has 57 employees here and 153 overall.
No. 30, AlvaradoSmith, had an 8% drop in revenue to $17.4 million. The Santa Ana-based law firm is owned by Ruben Smith, Raul Salinas, Robert Rivas and S. Chris Yoo. It has 51 employees in Orange County, including 23 attorneys. The firm has 83 employees overall, including its offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.