October 28, 2005
Long Island’s Top 50 Private Companies – Part 1
By Jeremy Harrell
Quality King Distributors Inc.
Revenue: $2.3 billion
Industry: Distribution of pharmaceuticals, health and beauty products, fragrances and groceries.
CEO: Glenn Nussdorf
Employees: 1,350; 1,200 local
The secret to Quality King's business? Sell low and buy lower.
That formula has worked since 1961, when Bernard Nussdorf founded the company in Queens.
In addition to fragrances, foods and beauty aids, the company's QK Healthcare subsidiary sells branded and generic pharmaceuticals to retailers and pharmacy benefit programs.
The more than 10,000 products stocked by the company are sold through drug stores, supermarkets and wholesale clubs.
The firm, headed by one of the founder's sons, CEO Glenn Nussdorf, was rated No. 86 nationwide on Forbes' 2004 ranking of the largest private companies.
5500 New Horizons Blvd., Amityville 11701
Revenue: $1.3 billion
Industry: Pharmaceutical distribution
CEO: Neal Goldstein
Employees: 220; 200 local
Bellco Health, which distributes pharmaceutical products and serves the dialysis market, once again ranked as the second-largest private company on Long Island.
The company saw revenue jump 8 percent to $1.3 billion by sticking to its knitting. Overall, we're continuing our national pharmaceutical strategy, selling to retail pharmacies and to kidney dialysis, said CEO Neal Goldstein. Those are our two primary markets.
P.C. Richard & Son
150 Price Parkway, Farmingdale 11735
Revenue: $1.1 billion
Industry: Appliances and electronics
CEO: Gary Richard
President: Gregg Richard
Employees: 2,500; 1,725 local
It was a bittersweet year for the 96-year-old appliance, electronics and computer giant. Sadly, A.J. Richard, who turned the company into the behemoth that it has become, passed away in December at the age of 95.
It was A.J., son of Peter Christiaan Richard, who pushed the company beyond its roots - a Brooklyn-based hardware store.
On the bright side, under the leadership of Gary Richard, the company continues to grow. It added warehouse space - it now has about 1 million square feet of it in Farmingdale. P.C. Richard also continues to see revenue rise, thanks to sales of high-end electronics such as flat-panel plasma screen televisions.
Those televisions used to cost thousands of dollars, Richard said. Now we have them for $1,200. They've come down in price quite a bit, and with football season here, they're selling quite well.
P.C. Richard has 49 stores in New York and New Jersey, 19 of which are on Long Island.
Levitz Home Furnishings Inc.
300 Crossways Park Drive Woodbury 11797
Revenue: $1 billion
Industry: Furniture retailing
President and CEO: C. Mark Scott
Gone is the Seaman's Furniture name, absorbed recently into Levitz Home Furnishings, one of the country's largest furniture retailers.
The company that dates back to 1910 has more than 100 shops in the Northeast, West Coast and St. Paul, Minn. It is now exploring using the Brooklyn-born Seaman's name within Levitz shops, according to a spokesman.
In May, Levitz got $20 million in additional financing - increasing the facility to $80 million - money that will help build stronger and growing position in the home furnishings market in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
Despite the availability of new funds, the company raced to beat the institution of new bankruptcy regulations and filed for Chapter 11 earlier this month - its second time in eight years.
Harold Levinson & Associates
21 Banfi Plaza, Farmingdale 11735
Revenue: $980 million
Industry: Wholesale distribution of tobacco products and food items
CEO: Edward Berro
Employees: 420; 400 local
Diversification is the name of the game for Harold Levinson & Associates.
Started as a cigarette distributor to convenience stores, the company has gradually moved more and more into supplying food products.
We're becoming less dependent on our cigarette business, said Marty Glick, the Farmingville company's vice president of sales. We're still a cigarette company, but less so than we were three or four years ago.
That's partly because state and local taxes have made cigarette distributing a tough business, Glick said. But it's also because consumer habits are changing.
Even within the world of tobacco, Harold Levinson is filling out its lineup, finding financial success by distributing roll-your-own cigarettes, high-end cigars and other tobacco products that are gaining market share, Glick said.
And it's also a distributor's responsibility to figure out what the consumer wants and bring that message to customers. Anyone could sell you Marlboros and M&Ms, Glick said. They always taste the same.
Harold Levinson plans to expand its forays into food service, especially as cigarettes become harder to sell and for a more fundamental reason: better margins. The company also expects to capitalize on its recent investments in information technology, allowing the firm to attract higher-end customers, Glick said.
King Kullen Grocery Co.
185 Central Ave., Bethpage 11714
Revenue: $880 million
CEO: Bernard D. Kennedy
Employees: 4,700; 4,625 local
King Kullen continues to remodel and open supermarkets. In June, a 40,000-square-foot store was completed in East Setauket's Three Village Shopping Center. Also this year, King Kullen renovated and upgraded supermarkets in Bridgehampton, Mineola, Levittown and North Babylon. Nearing completion is the renovation of the King Kullen in Bellmore.
The company operates 47 stores, all but one of which are on Long Island; the other is in Staten Island. The food retailer also runs two Wild by Nature stores, one in East Setauket, the other in Huntington.
The Smithsonian Institute recognizes King Kullen as America's first supermarket. It was launched in Queens by Michael J. Cullen in 1930. Seventy-five years later, it's run by a third-generation of the Cullen family.
1600 Northern Blvd., Roslyn 11576
Revenue: $524 million
Industry: Car sales
CEO: Julia Terian
Employees: 488, all local
The Rallye Group's sales of luxury cars and light trucks proved a winning formula again in 2004, as the company's annual revenue continued to climb.
Rallye's 2.3 percent revenue increase in 2004 didn't match the double-digit jump of 2003, but the company added employees and sales volume during a turbulent year for automobile sales.
It was a slow start for 2004, but it's picked up since then, and we're on an upward trend, said Joe Stanco, company vice president and CFO. Rallye's BMW Group posted its most successful year ever in 2004, as did the Acura Group, making it one of the top 15 Acura dealerships in the country.
There's promising growth potential for Rallye's other groups. Lexus still leads luxury auto sales nationwide, and the company recently unveiled its first hybrid model. Mercedes-Benz, Rallye's fourth make, is also experiencing strong nationwide sales.
Publishers Clearing House
382 Channel Drive, Port Washington 11050
Revenue: $450 million
Industry: Direct marketing
President and CEO: Andy Goldberg
This company may be known for its giant cardboard check and its big money sweepstakes, but Publishers Clearing House is more than that, says President and CEO Andy Goldberg.
As the name hints, the 52-year-old company sells discount magazine subscriptions, more than 250 titles, including People and Maxim. It also operates a classic direct-mail business with 2,000 wares, including household products, books and music. That revenue has grown 13 percent so far in 2005, Goldberg said.
Even more rapidly growing is revenue for the bright-orange pch.com, the company's online channel, which is projected to double this year. That youth-oriented site offers the same things with the click of a mouse.
PCH takes a chance by delivering products without requiring payment first.
It's not that risky because we're very experienced at managing credit risk, Goldberg says. Our challenge is to identify those people who will go on to pay.
For those who can't, the next $1 million prize drawing is on Thanksgiving.
Bamberger Polymers Inc.
2 Jericho Plaza, Jericho 11753
Revenue: $412 million
Industry: Plastic resin distributor
CEO: Lawrence Ubertini
Employees: 120; 50 local
The future is now for Bamberger Polymers, which supplies plastic resins to a wide range of manufacturers, primarily in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The firm's revenue jumped in 2004 primarily due to increases in costs for resins, which are made using oil.
Bamberger's resins are used in everything from toys to garbage bags to cups to cars, isolating them from the vagaries of each industry.
Unit sales also rose 10 percent for Bamberger, which in 2004 sold about 775 million pounds of plastic resin, up from about 700 million the prior year.
Bamberger, which buys resins from giants such as Dow Chemicals, Innovene (BP's plastics group) and Eastman Chemicals, said companies aren't stocking up on large backlogs due to the higher cost for the product as a result of rising oil prices. They're buying only what they need, said Chief Financial Officer Paul Coco.
And, following the Gulf Coast hurricanes, supply shortages and cost pressures have led to further price increases throughout the plastics industry.
Sam Ash Music Corp.
278 Duffy Ave., Hicksville 11801 (516) 932-6400
Revenue: $390 million
Industry: Music instrument retailing
CEO: Richard Ash
Employees: 1,900; 320 local
Schools have changed their tune and Sam Ash Music Corp. is dancing to the melody.
Many school districts that eliminated music programs in recent years have been restoring funding, bolstering business for the music- store chain, explained President Paul Ash.
One of the biggest trends is the resurgence in school music, he said. School music departments that closed - many are being reinstated. Low-end instruments are being sold in our stores around the country.
Ash said that demand also is strong for recording equipment for rock bands.
You can make your own CD for fairly low money, he said. Before, you used to have to go to a studio. A couple of kids can get together with a synthesizer. We sell synthesizers and recording equipment.
The business, founded in Brooklyn in 1924 by Ash's parents, remains in family hands.
35 Hub Drive, Melville 11747
Revenue: $363 million
Industry: Manufacturer, distributor and marketer of designer and patented eyeglass frames and sunglasses.
CEO: Al Berg
Employees: 1,000; 500 local
Marchon Eyewear may be in the eyewear business, but it also is part of the fashion industry, rolling out designer eyewear for couture houses known around the world. The firm - whose eyewear brands include Nike, Nautica, Calvin Klein and Coach - has been bringing new fashion names into the fold.
In 2004, the company signed a deal to sell Michael Kors branded eyewear. And earlier this year it took over global distribution for the Fendi eyewear and sunglass collections after distributing Fendi in the Western Hemisphere for more than a decade. The firm's Flexon flexible eyewear frames also gives it a technological edge.
Marchon is a prime example of global vision in sales and sourcing. In addition to its U.S. base, the company distributes products through regional headquarters in Amsterdam and Tokyo and sales offices serving customers in more than 80 countries. It also has production facilities in Italy, China and Japan.
For kids' glasses, Marchon is the company behind the mouse: They make and market Disney eyewear.