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Wide-ranging private companies serve as cornerstone in Tampa Bay economy, job market

Thirty-nine of Florida's biggest privately owned businesses are based in the greater Tampa Bay area, employ nearly 250,000 workers and generate revenues topping $43 billion. Combined, they form a lesser-known cornerstone of the regional economy.

Not bad for such a wide range of largely low-visibility companies that do everything from making audio-visual equipment and selling RVs to distributing beer and processing seafood.

Who knew a Brandon gasoline distributor with 30 employees called Automated Petroleum & Energy generated higher revenues with 30 employees than Bradenton's Beall's department store chain with 4,100 workers? Who would guess amid the subdivisions and agriculture fields of Seffner reside the headquarters of two (Rooms To Go and Lazydays RV) of the area's 15 largest private businesses?

These are some highlights from the accompanying ranking of the largest privately held businesses in the greater Tampa Bay area. The firms are culled from the annual listing of the state's 200 largest private companies published in the July 2012 issue of Florida Trend magazine, an affiliate publication of the Tampa Bay Times.

These private Tampa Bay area companies differ from publicly owned corporations like area heavyweights Tech Data or Jabil Circuit or TECO Energy. Public companies typically trade their shares on major stock markets and are required to publish quarterly earnings and file regulatory reports about significant company events. That flow of information makes it more likely that public company news ends up reported by newspapers. Private firms more easily keep matters off the public radar.

Consider these rapid growers in the past year. Privately owned Neal Communities of Southwest Florida, based in Bradenton, jumped an impressive 33 spots in the past year to No. 164 in Florida Trend's statewide ranking of the top 200 private businesses. St. Petersburg insurance firm Universal Health Care also leaped a whopping 32 spots to land at No. 24 statewide.

Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets, whose shares are owned by employees but not traded on public stock exchanges, dominates the regional ranking as one of the largest private or public companies in Florida. It is mentioned here to offer a sense of perspective of size. Minus Publix's $27 billion in revenues and 70,000 employees, the remaining 38 private area businesses had combined revenues of just under $16 billion and a total of about 170,000 workers.

Behind Publix in area size is Tampa's OSI Restaurant Partners, which owns such well-known restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and others. This may be the last year OSI will appear on this private business listing since it has announced plans to take the company public (as it was once before) under the name Bloomin' Brands.

Once that happens, No. 3 Rooms To Go will rise in the regional ranks. The furniture retailer operates stores in 41 metro area across nine southern states plus Puerto Rico. It recently began pushing farther into Texas by gobbling up stores of another furniture retailer in bankruptcy.

A final note. Six of the 39 private companies on this list also made the latest Tampa Bay Times rankings of the area's top workplaces. Among them are Universal Health Care, American Strategic Insurance, Southeast Personnel Leasing, Power Design, Modern Business Associates and Hawkins Construction.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected]

Biggest private companies in greater Tampa Bay area

Ranked by revenue

Company Based Employees Revenue What they do

1 Publix Super Markets Lakeland 70,000 $27.2 billion Grocery

2 OSI Restaurant Partners* Tampa 85,000 $2.8 billion Restaurants

3 Rooms To Go Seffner 6,400 $1.5 billion Furniture retailer

4 Automated Petroleum Brandon 30 $1.3 billion Gasoline distributor

5 Beall's Bradenton 4,100 $1.2 billion Retail

6 Universal Health Care St. Petersburg 1,000 $1.1 billion Insurance

7 Southeast Personnel Leasing Holiday 43,438 $1 billion Staffing

8 American Strategic Insurance St. Petersburg 260 $725 million Insurance

9 AVI-SPL Tampa 1,500 $550 million Audio-visual

10 Gulfeagle Supply Tampa 700 $435 million Roofing supply

11 Modern Business Associates St. Petersburg 101 $356 million HR outsourcing

12 J.H. Williams Oil Tampa 36 $353 million Petroleum marketing

13 A-1 Contract Staffing Tampa 15,350 $345 million Staffing

14 Tampa Bay Fisheries Dover 450 $339 million Seafood processing

15 Lazydays RV Center Seffner 492 $315 million RV sales/service

16 Bankers Financial St. Petersburg 689 $307 million Insurance

17 KHS&S Contractors Tampa 1,300 $276 million Construction

18 America II Electronics St. Petersburg 600 $250 million Tech distributor

19 Florida Infusion Services Palm Harbor 30 $235 million Drug wholesaler

20 Caspers Co. Tampa 1,200 $178 million McDonald's franchise

21 Amscot Financial Tampa 1,285 $173 million Financial

22 Great Bay Distributors Largo 296 $170 million Beer distributor

23 Gardner-Gibson Tampa 450 $165 million Protective coatings

24 Carlton Fields Tampa 616 $163 million Law firm

25 McNichols Tampa 344 $160 million Metal products

26 Times Publishing** St. Petersburg 930 $151 million Newspaper

27 Pepin Distributing Tampa 291 $143 million Beer distributor

28 Hit Promotional Products Largo 575 $140 million Advertising

29 Tampa Armature Works Riverview 610 $136 million Electrical equipment

30 Neal Communities of

Southwest Florida Bradenton 82 $111 million Housing developer

31 Power Design St. Petersburg 349 $110 million Electrical contractor

32 First Watch Bradenton 2,000 $101 million Restaurants

33 Lifestyle Family Fitness*** St. Petersburg 502 $100 million Fitness clubs

34 IC Intracom Oldsmar 280 $90 million Computer peripherals

35 Hawkins Construction Tarpon Springs 92 $87 million General contractor

36 Sanwa Growers Tampa n/a $87 million Agriculture

37 Creative Contractors Clearwater 58 $85 millionCommercial construction

38 Arthur Rutenberg Homes Clearwater 40 $82 million Construction

39 FKQ Advertising & Marketing Clearwater 78 $79 million Advertising

* OSI plans to become a public company.

** Owns the Tampa Bay Times.

*** Acquired by LA Fitness.

Source: From Florida Trend magazine annual ranking of top 200 private companies in Florida.

Biggest movers

Change in revenue rankings based on statewide list of 200 private companies.

Neal Communities of Southwest FloridaBradentonUp 33 spots to No. 164
Universal Health CareSt. PetersburgUp 32 spots to No. 24
Hawkins ConstructionTarpon SpringsDown 23 spots to No. 188
America II ElectronicsSt. PetersburgDown 10 spots to No. 91
Neal Communities of Southwest FloridaBradentonUp 33 spots to No. 164
Universal Health CareSt. PetersburgUp 32 spots to No. 24
Hawkins ConstructionTarpon SpringsDown 23 spots to No. 188
America II ElectronicsSt. PetersburgDown 10 spots to No. 91

Wide-ranging private companies serve as cornerstone in Tampa Bay economy, job market 07/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 14, 2012 4:31am]
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