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THE TIMES 100: THE BEST COMPANIES IN CALIFORNIA : INDUSTRY REPORT CARD : JUST FAMILY : Accounting for the Missing

April 24, 1988|BRUCE KEPPEL | Times Staff Writer

The Times 100 survey of California's publicly traded companies sheds considerable light on the present shape and future of the state's economy, but missing--and herewith accounted for--are many large and well-known companies that are privately held.

Among those who eluded The Times 100 criteria, for example, is the world's largest and probably most secretive winery, Modesto's E & J Gallo, one of about 20 privately held concerns with annual sales close to or exceeding $1 billion.

In fact, most of California's $15-billion agricultural sector isn't included in the current survey because publicly traded companies number just four, including Castle & Cooke and its Dole brand, a recent entry in the state's citrus industry dominated by the (also not included) 6,000-member cooperative, Sunkist Growers.

Missing, besides huge concerns like Sunkist of Sherman Oaks and Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento with their combined annual sales of more than $1.5 billion, are thousands of family-owned farms. These range from the minuscule to the mammoth, such as the giant Salyer and Boswell family holdings in the San Joaquin Valley. Until 1986, Safeway Stores, with its $18.3 billion in national sales and 32,000 employees in California, would have figured prominently in the survey, but the Oakland-based chain became a private concern that year, one heavily burdened by debt but still free from the clutches of would-be corporate raiders, the Haft family. Also in the food business, Denny's restaurants, based in La Mirada and now a subsidiary of a New York firm, employs 15,000 people in California.

In San Francisco resides not only privately owned Levi Strauss & Co. with global sales of $2.9 billion and 2,000 employees in California but the giant construction firm Bechtel Group, with 5,500 California employees and worldwide revenue of $4.5 billion. Southern Pacific, long an independent company based in San Francisco, is now a subsidiary of out-of-state Santa Fe-Southern Pacific, but still counts more than 10,000 employees in California.

"There are a lot of companies that may not be headquartered in California but do a lot of business here," said Pauline Sweezey, chief economist of the California Department of Finance. These include not only auto makers and many insurance companies but a long list of aerospace and defense firms, among them:

Hughes Aircraft, a subsidiary of GM Hughes Electronics, with 63,000 employees in the state; McDonnell Douglas divisions in Huntington Beach and Long Beach, which employ 41,000; Rockwell International, with 38,000 on its payroll here; TRW, with 25,000 employees in its space and defense operations in Redondo Beach and another 5,000 in its information systems group in Long Beach; General Dynamics, with divisions in Ontario and Pomona, employing more than 11,000; Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach, with staff of 8,400, and Aerojet General in La Jolla, showing a California payroll of 7,700.

Moreover, additional billions of dollars are poured into the state's economy from the public-sector payroll, which includes 1.9 million government employees, Sweezey pointed out. And a number of private sector areas are under-represented in any survey of public companies, she added. Many service-oriented businesses, from travel agents to consulting firms, tend to be small or privately owned, for example.

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