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Top 400 Locally Owned Companies Remain Combative

By on November 18, 2016

SAN JUAN- Despite Puerto Rico’s 10-year economic contraction and a tough fiscal situation, the combined revenue generated by the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies on the island during 2015 was actually up from the previous year.

If there were ever any questions about the importance of the private sector to Puerto Rico’s economy, Caribbean Business’ listing of the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies clearly answers any doubts.

In 2015, combined revenue of the Caribbean Business Top 400 was $25.64 billion, up by $658.38 million, or 2.63%, from 2014, when revenue reached $24.98 billion.

The top locally owned companies provided 130,267 full-time jobs in 2015, down 3,206, or minus 2.4%, from 2014.

As the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies have suffered the effects of the lingering recession that has beset Puerto Rico since 2006, these results highlight the valiant efforts of the more than 90,000 locally owned companies to keep their businesses moving forward, create jobs and help the local economy stay afloat.

In fact, given the island’s fiscal and economic challenges, the Top 400 should be highly commended and admired, and even more for their remarkable achievements under such difficult circumstances.

Their feat is more remarkable when one considers that during fiscal year 2015 (ended June 30, 2016), the local economy fell 0.9%, according to the latest figures from the Puerto Rico Planning Board.

Still, the Caribbean Business Top 400 Locally Owned Companies have shown their determination and resolve in finding ways to overcome hurdles such as increased operational costs and new taxes in an overall stagnant economic scenario.

Although 2015 was again a test of survival for many businesses, it also was a period of growth and opportunities for others.

The Top 400 Locally Owned Companies in fiscal 2015 employed 13.23% of the total full-time jobholders in Puerto Rico at the time (984,000 people) and 17.21% of the private-sector workforce (756,700).

In calculating the number of full-time employees, part-time employees are included where applicable (two part-time employees equal one full-time employee).

Companies in the wholesale, insurance, retail, service and healthcare sectors led the Top 400 list of locally owned companies, with combined revenue of $21.38 billion, or 83.38% of total Top 400 revenue, in 2015.

Caribbean Business first started to monitor locally owned businesses in 1988, initially as the Top 100. The survey quickly caught on and the following year, the Top 200 was born. In 1996, the list grew to the Top 300 and in 2003, Caribbean Business created what has continued to be the coveted and prestigious Top 400 list of locally owned companies.

Newcomers to the Top 400

The Top 400 Locally Owned Companies welcomed 23 newcomers to the list this year, with the highest ranked being Carolina-based Hospital UPR Dr. Federico Trilla (No. 98), with $51.11 million in revenue. It was followed by San Juan-based Caribe Tecno CRL (No. 124), with $49.61 million in estimated revenue in 2015; Bayamón-based Grupo Sultana (No. 190), with revenue of $23 million, and Caguas-based Avant Technologies of P.R. Inc. (No. 229), with $18 million in revenue.

Other new Top 400 members include Marina Puerto del Rey (No. 275), with $14.1 million; Universal Solar Products Inc. (No. 286), with $12.93 million; Caribe Federal Credit Union (No. 302), with $12.1 million; Infomedika Inc. (No. 311), with $11.38 million; and FPV & Galíndez CPAs PSC (No. 375), with $7.76 million.

The largest employer on the Caribbean Business Top 400 list in 2015 was Metro Pavia Health System (No. 3), with 4,956 employees. It was followed by another hospital management company, Grupo HIMA-San Pablo Inc. (No. 9), with 4,875 full-time employees.

Meanwhile, the top locally owned company, in terms of revenue in 2015, was once again Triple-S Management Corp., which for the seventh time dethroned Popular Inc., what was once the perennial leader, after the financial institution, like the rest of its banking peers, was no longer considered at least 51% locally owned in 2009. Triple-S Management’s revenue for 2015 was $2.9 billion.

Between Triple-S Management’s No. 1 position and Fusionworks Inc.’s No. 400 spot exist a wide variety of businesses on the list, which includes auto dealerships and distributors, manufacturers, supermarkets, hospitals, insurance companies, law firms, freight forwarders, general contractors, discount stores, newspapers, security services, universities, CPA firms, pharmaceutical-products distributors, travel agencies, construction companies and many more.

The common denominator is they all have roots in Puerto Rico, with 51% or more local ownership, and generated revenue of at least $5.99 million in 2015.

Banking sector

What used to be one of Puerto Rico’s most important economic drivers and a dominant force in the Top 400, occupying the top positions on the list in years past, all local financial institutions were knocked out of the Top 400 list starting in 2009, as the largest publicly traded banks were no longer 51% locally owned. These institutions were replaced on our list by savings & loan cooperatives, or co-ops.

The top-five financial institutions, out of the top 10 that make up this segment, produced 63.83% of the financial sector’s revenues. They are: Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Arecibo (No. 148), with $33.72 million; Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Rincón (No. 170), with $28.17 million; Banco Cooperativo de Puerto Rico (No. 202), with an estimated $21 million; Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Vega Alta (No. 232), $17.7 million; and Cooperativa de Ahorro y Crédito de Aguada (No. 233), with $17.66 million.

Financial institutions accounted for 0.84% of the Top 400’s total revenue.

As a group, the top 10 locally owned financial institutions in Puerto Rico amassed a total of $185.25 million in revenue in 2015, up 0.89% from the $183.6 million in revenue the group achieved the previous year.

Automobile industry

Having experienced four-consecutive years of positive sales between 2010 and 2013 after a rollercoaster ride—from a record high of 144,400 new units sold in 2005 to a record low of just 76,477 new units moved in 2009—the local auto industry is once again suffering the effects of the lingering economic downturn, although still remaining a vital component of Puerto Rico’s economy.

New-auto sales in 2015 amounted to 81,357 units, down 7.8% from the 88,200 new vehicles moved by local distributors in 2014.

Bella Group (No. 12) continues to lead the automobile companies in the Top 400, with $377.782 million in revenue. It was followed by Auto Grupo (No. 38), with $148 million; Cabrera Inc. (No. 41), with an estimated $132.72 million; Garage Isla Verde LLC (No. 44), with an estimated $128.5 million; and Gómez Hermanos Kennedy LLC (No. 49), which rounds out the top five, with $120.49 million in revenue.

The remaining top automobile companies are Grupo Felcon Inc. (No. 65) with $80.6 million in revenue; Autocentro Toyota (Autokirei Inc., No. 68), with $77.34 million in revenue; Braulio Agosto Motors LLC (No. 93), with $55.2 million; Caguas Expressway Motors Inc. (No. 96), with $53.4 million; and Calesa Motors Inc. (No. 119), with $42.22 million.

The top 10 automobile companies in the Top 400 produced $1.22 billion in revenue during the past fiscal year. The automobile sector accounted for 6.16% of the total revenue of companies on the Top 400 list.

The 25 automobile companies in the Top 400 produced $1.58 billion in revenue in 2015.

Wholesale

Despite tough competition and a challenging economy, the wholesale industry remains strong. The wholesale sector accounted for 24.51% of the Top 400 revenue, with $6.28 billion.

There are 64 companies on the list in this category, led by Puerto Rico Supplies Group Inc. (No. 4), with $520 million; Petrowest Inc. (No. 5), with $518 million in revenue; V. Suárez & Co. (No. 6), with $508 million in revenue. It was followed by Droguería Betances Inc. (No. 8), with $483.5 million; and Plaza Provision Co. (No. 10), with $410 million in revenue.

The top 10 companies that make up this segment generated $3.87 billion in revenue, or 61.62% of the wholesale sector’s total revenues in 2015.

Retail

Leading once again the top locally owned retail companies on this year’s list was Ralph’s Food Warehouse Inc. (No. 13), with an estimated $355 million in total revenue. It was followed by Supermercados Mr. Special Inc. (No. 21), with $282.01 million; SuperMax (Supermercados Máximo Inc., No. 22), with $277.5 million; South American Restaurants Corp. (Sarco, No. 25), with $208 million in revenue; and National Lumber & Hardware (No. 26), with $205 million in estimated revenue.

The top 10 companies that make up this segment generated $2 billion in revenue, or 51.38% of the retail sector’s total revenues.

Retailers accounted for about 19.25% of companies on the Top 400 list. The 77 retail companies that make up the Top 400 list were responsible for $3.9 billion in revenue in 2015.

Insurance

Unlike other sectors in Puerto Rico, the insurance industry has traditionally been dominated by more than 80% domestic, locally owned companies.

The 13 local insurance companies in the Top 400 produced $4.92 billion in revenue, or 19.18% of the Top 400’s total revenue. The local insurance industry employs more than 30,000 people islandwide.

Topping the list of insurance companies, as well as the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies list in 2015 was Triple-S Management Corp., with $2.9 billion in revenue. It was followed by First Medical Health Plan Inc. (No. 2), with $882.74 million; Universal Group Inc. (No. 7), with $491.22 million; Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico (No. 23), with $272.33 million in revenue; and Asociación de Suscripción Conjunta (ASC, No. 55), with $101.34 million.

The insurance industry continued to show vigor in the Top 400, as the island’s leading insurer, Triple-S Management, took the No. 1 spot this year for the seventh time in a row since the list started in 1988. The insurance industry placed second in this year’s industry rankings, after wholesale.

Manufacturing

Considered the main economic driver on the island for years, Puerto Rico’s manufacturing sector may have seen its relevance diminish, but it continues to be a significant contributor of economic activity.

This year’s list is dominated by distilled spirits, beverage makers, as well as food and paint manufacturers.

The 42 manufacturing companies that made this year’s Top 400 list generated combined revenue of $1.35 billion, or 5.27% of the Top 400 total revenue, accounting for 10.5% of the companies on the list.

Topping once again the list of manufacturers was Compañía Cervecera de Puerto Rico Inc. (No. 32), a local brewery, with $169.5 million in revenue. It was followed by Destilería Serrallés Inc. (No. 42), with $130 million in estimated revenue; Holsum de Puerto Rico Inc. (No. 50), with $120 million; Goya de Puerto Rico Inc. (No. 59), with an estimated $90.5 million; and Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters LLC (No. 78), with $70 million in estimated revenue in 2015.

The remaining top 10 manufacturing companies are Industria Lechera de P.R. Inc. (Indulac, No. 90), with $56.46 million; Lanco Manufacturing Corp. (No. 99), with $51 million; Borinquen Container Corp. (No. 109), with $48 million in revenue; Rovira Biscuit Corp. (No. 111) with $47 million in estimated revenue; and UltraPure Systems Inc. (No. 113), with $46.57 million in 2015.

Service sector

Empresas Fonalledas Inc. and its sister companies once again occupy the No. 1 slot in the service sector for 2015 and No. 15 on the Top 400 list. As the owner of Plaza Las Américas, the largest shopping center in the Caribbean, and Plaza del Caribe mall in Ponce, revenue for Empresas Fonalledas was estimated at $345 million in 2015, down 1.43% from the estimated $350 million in 2014.

Second in this category was Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez Inc. (No. 16), with $318.82 million in revenue for 2015. It was followed by Inter American University of Puerto Rico Inc. (Universidad Interamericana de P.R. Inc.) (No. 20), with $282.03 million, and GFR Media (El Nuevo Día Inc., No. 29), with $175 million in estimated revenue.

The Top 10 service companies in the Top 400 produced $1.55 billion in revenue last year. The service sector accounted for 23.5% of companies on the Top 400 Locally Owned Businesses list.

The 94 local service-sector companies in the Top 400 brought in $3.14 billion in revenue, representing 12.26% of Top 400 revenue in 2015.

Construction industry

For years, the construction industry was one of the pillars of Puerto Rico’s economy, with high demand for housing units each year being its main driving force. However, the sharp downturn in public infrastructure projects, a stalled housing market coupled with a laborious permit process and the general economic crisis, have hampered what 14 years ago was one of the most thriving industries on the island.

As a result of the steep decline in the number of public- and private-sector projects, many local contractors and developers during the past few years were forced to scale down operations, lay off personnel, reduce working hours and, in some cases, close down altogether.

This year, the Top 400’s construction sector comprised 37 companies with combined revenue of $992.3 million, a 9.78% decrease from the year before, which showed $1.1 billion in revenue. Given the tough economic conditions and the competition on the list in this sector, the firms should be recognized for their efforts and results.

Leading the list in the construction sector are: Aireko Cos. (No. 33), with $164.9 million; Bermúdez, Longo Díaz-Massó LLC (No. 64), with $81.21 million; CIC Construction Group S.E. (No. 79), with $66.85 million; Del Valle Group & Affiliates (No. 97), with $51.77 million; and F&R Construction Group Inc. (No. 107), with $49.68 million.

Construction companies accounted for 9.25% of the companies on the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies list.

Dropped from the Top 400

Companies that did not return to the Top 400 list of locally owned companies in 2015 include firms in the construction, retail, services, automobile and manufacturing sectors.

Companies no longer on the list include Atlantic Industrial Supply; Bared & Sons; Brenda Marrero & Associates; Coloso Foods; Empresas Díaz; Glasstra Aluminum; Indusa/Indexa; J. Saad Nazer Inc.; Labrada Distributors; Lopito Ileana & Howie Inc.; Martínez, Odell & Calabria; Nogama Construction Corp.; Topeka; Villavicencio & Associates; and Zorilla Commercial.

The majority of companies shed from the list posted a reduction in revenue below the minimum qualifying amount, closed operations or are no longer local.

Fastest-growing local companies

Bucking the trend were some companies that showed tremendous growth in a year-over-year basis.

Topping the list of the fastest-growing local companies in 2015, according to revenue growth by percentage, is Right Way Environmental Contractors Inc., with $11.68 million in revenue (up 222.65%). It was followed by Antilles Power Depot, with $10.9 million in revenue (up 118%); Máximo Solar Industries, with $20 million (up 93.24%); San Juan Gas, with $12 million (84.62%); and Desarrollos Metropolitanos LLC, with $30.52 million in revenue (55.63%).

The list of fastest-growing companies also included Allied Car & Truck Rental Inc., with $13.8 million (up 55.06%); Standard Refrigeration Co. Inc., with $14.3 million (up 50.53%); First Medical Health Plan Inc., with $882.74 million (up 50.39%); Vissepó & Diez Construction Corp., with $8.92 million (49.66%); and Refrigerama Inc., with $12.23 million (40.57%).

How Companies are Ranked

BY CB STAFF

Like the Fortune 500, the Caribbean Business Top 400 Locally Owned Companies ranks businesses according to revenue, which is considered a measure of their size.

For more than 85% of the Top 400 companies, revenue means sales, a straightforward indicator reflecting a company’s gross income.

Banks and insurance companies use different yardsticks to determine annual revenue. Neither industry lists sales as retailers and manufacturers do. To make sure apples are compared with apples, Caribbean Business hired public accounting firm Ernst & Young (E&Y) 12 years ago to come up with equivalent revenue for select industries, including advertising, financial services and insurance.

E&Y researched each industry represented on the Caribbean Business list of the largest locally owned companies and provided the sources of income that should be counted as revenue in an attempt to level the playing field for all Top 400 candidates.

For instance, for the past 11 years, hospitals have been asked to provide net patient revenue, a more accurate measure of gross income in this industry because it rules out discounts.

The yardstick for insurance companies was also refined to exclude reinsurance businesses. On the insurance industry charts, the total number of premiums written was used as the criterion.

For insurance companies, revenue is defined as net premiums written and income from other sources; other items included in the concept of total revenue are net investment gain or loss and other income.

For banks and credit unions, revenue is equated with total interest and investment income, service fees and gains on loan sales. Advertising agencies report total commissions and fees received.

We are also using other revenue definitions for the following, although some of these industry sectors may not have sufficient entries or revenue to be included in this year’s list:

Automobile: Total automobile and truck sales, parts sales, income from repair services and income from automobile rentals.

Construction: Total sales of real property and/or income for services rendered (including engineering and construction contracts).

Real Estate: Total commissions on real-estate sales or rentals.

Telecommunications: Total sales of services, goods and/or advertising time.

Insurance Brokers: Total commissions from insurance-product sales.

Mortgage companies: Total interest income, commissions, service fees on asset management, investment banking, and advisory and underwriting services.

How the Top 400 List is Selected

BY CB STAFF

For nearly three decades, Caribbean Business has listed the top locally owned companies in Puerto Rico. Since the first list 28 years ago, the Caribbean Business Top 100, the rules have remained constant. To be considered, a company must generate revenue of at least $5 million or more and be at least 51% owned and managed by Puerto Rico residents.

In the past few years, the annual revenue of the No. 400 company has hovered at $5.99 million to $6.85 million. This year, the company holding that rank generated $6.1 million in revenue.

Candidate companies must operate in the private sector. Local nonprofit educational organizations have been included in the survey since 1999. Winning a spot among the Top 400 Locally Owned Companies is both competitive and rewarding. Companies that make the list have excelled in business and deserve this recognition.

The selection process began in June with a questionnaire mailed to about 800 companies selected from the Caribbean Business database, industry sources and business information from public databases. Only the 400 largest companies, based on revenue, and that meet all other requirements, become part of the final list.

The information from about 500 companies came in by mail, email, fax or telephone. Of those that responded this year, 27 businesses had lower revenue figures than the 400th-ranked company, while another 40 did not meet the list’s requisites. Not all company owners volunteer revenue figures.

Last year, two companies closed operations, while one local firm merged with another company.

Sometimes, companies are too busy or refuse to disclose their revenues for the year. In cases where a qualifying company does not provide this information, an estimate is entered. Estimates are made by researching industry trends, revenues and ratios, consulting business databases and government filings.

Although a last resort, estimating revenue of companies that belong on the list is this newspaper’s policy.

“If we left out companies because they failed to provide their numbers, for whatever reason, the Top 400 would not be a true list of the top locally owned companies,” explained Heiko Faass, editor in chief of Caribbean Business.

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