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State a Magnet for Small Businesses

6 Minority-, Women-Owned Firms Make U.S. Top 10 Lists


The nation's top minority- and women-owned small businesses are feeling very much at home in the Golden State.

Those are the findings of a just-released study by Entrepreneur magazine and Dun & Bradstreet, which shows that four of the top 10 minority-owned small businesses and two of the top 10 women-owned small firms are based in California--more than any other state. The study ranked U.S. businesses with less than 100 employees and an active minority or female owner by 1996 revenue.

"The only surprise is that there weren't more California firms on the list," said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles. "This is a wide-open market with so many opportunities."

That's what Seung Soo Lim found when he came to the United States as a graduate student in 1982. With little more than $3,000 in savings and an interest in photography, Lim started a photographic supplies business in 1985. His Glendale-based Photo Max Film Supplies Co. had $6.1 million in sales, making it No. 9 on Entrepreneur's top 10 list of minority-owned small businesses.

"It's not a miracle; I don't have a special secret," Lim said. "I just work hard six days a week and take care of the customer. That's all."

Why is California a mecca for these fast-growing small firms?

Part of it is demographics, observers say. Minority- and women-owned businesses are growing at a faster pace than the economy at large, so it's only natural that many of them would be located in California, the nation's largest state and a magnet for immigrants.

With a strong ethnic community as their base and job opportunities in corporate America often limited, many of those immigrants have ,opted to start their own businesses. Ditto for women bumping up against the glass ceiling, even in progressive California, which now has more women- and minority-owned businesses than any other state.

Plus, that same restive, inventive spirit that historically has made California an incubator for start-ups applies to entrepreneurs of all stripes, not just white men, said Rieva Lesonsky, editorial director of Entrepreneur.

"The risk-taking mentality is pervasive here," Lesonsky said. "California is still where people come to make things happen."

Judi Girard Stefflre, owner of Rail Delivery Services Inc., a La Mirada-based trucking and warehousing firm, agrees.

"It doesn't matter if it's a traditionally male or traditionally female world," said Stefflre, whose company ranked No. 8 on the list of top women-owned businesses. "An entrepreneur is someone who goes out and proves they can do it."


Small Firms, Big Revenues

Women and minorities have found golden opportunity in California. The state has more top-ranked women- and minority-owned small businesses than any other state, according to a just-released report compiled by Entrepreneur magazine and Dun & Bradstreet.

Top 10 Women-Owned Small Businesses

Company: Mortgage Store

Location: Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Type of business: Residential mortgage brokerage

1996 sales, in millions: $25.0


Company: Future Enterprises

Location: Washington, D.C.

Type of business: Computer software training, computer peripherals

1996 sales, in millions: $11.5


Company: Stroud Group

Location: Columbia, Md.

Type of business: Contract purchasing for hospitality industry

1996 sales, in millions: $10.8


Company: LRJ Staffing Services

Location: Austin, Texas

Type of business: Staffing agency

1996 sales, in millions: $9.8


Company: Power Line Constructors

Location: Clinton, N.Y.

Type of business: Outdoor electrical contractor

1996 sales, in millions: $8.3


Company: Techtrans International

Location: Houston

Type of business: Translation services, language training

1996 sales, in millions: $8.2


Company: Pyramid Precision Machine

Location: San Diego

Type of business: Precision machine shop

1996 sales, in millions: $8.1


Company: Rail Delivery Services

Location: CLa Mirada, Calif.

Type of business: Trucking, warehousing

1996 sales, in millions: $7.2


Company: Harbor Construction

Location: Savannah, Ga.

Type of business: General contractor

1996 sales, in millions: $7.1


Company: Professional Technical Development

Location: Lansing, Mich.

Type of business: Computer training, programming, support services

1996 sales, in millions: $6.7

Top 10 Minority-Owned Small Businesses

Company: Diaz Tirado Travel Bureau

Location: Bronx, N.Y.

Type of business: Travel agency

1996 sales, in millions: $28.8


Company: Steve's Equipment Service

Location: Chicago

Type of business: Construction equipment sales and leasing

1996 sales, in millions: $16.3


Company: Gordon H. Chong & Partners

Location: San Francisco

Type of business: Architecture, interiors, planning

1996 sales, in millions: $10.3


Company: Indusa Technical

Location: Wheaton, Ill.

Type of business: Software consulting and contracting services

1996 sales, in millions: $10.1


Company: Beyond Innovations

Location: Miami

Type of business: High-tech products, consumer electronics

1996 sales, in millions: $7.9


Company: Sierra Circuits

Location: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Type of business: PC board manufacturer

1996 sales, in millions: $7.2


Company: Malco Steel

Location: Kansas City, Mo.

Type of business: General construction, specializing in steel erection and placement

1996 sales, in millions: $6.8


Company: Bosma Machine & Tool

Location: Tipp City, Ohio

Type of business: Contract manufacturing

1996 sales, in millions: $6.5


Company: Photo Max Film Supplies

Location: Glendale, Calif.

Type of business: Photographic supplies

1996 sales, in millions: $6.1


Company: La Tortilla Factory

Location: Santa Rosa, Calif.

Type of business: Tortillas, wraps, chips and salsa

1996 sales, in millions: $5.6

Sources: Dun & Bradstreet, Entrepreneur magazine

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