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7 Los Angeles-Area Companies Make Magazine's Inner City 100 List

Inc.'s new geographically based roster names rapidly growing privately held firms nationwide.

April 28, 1999|MARLA DICKERSON and LEE ROMNEY

Roundhouse Inc. and six other Los Angeles-area companies have made Inc. magazine's first Inner City 100 list of the fastest-growing privately held businesses located in America's urban core.

Patterned after the much-watched Inc. 500 list of privately held growth companies, the new list is an attempt to draw attention to business opportunities in America's inner cities, according to George Gendron, editor in chief of Inc.

"We see the Inner City 100 companies as a look into the future of the American economy," Gendron said. "This list shows that the inner city is not only a viable but also a compelling and attractive place to build a company."

California's top performer was Roundhouse, which came in at No. 3 with five-year sales growth of 5,425%. The manufacturer of CD storage cases and insulated coolers also ranked 25th on last year's Inc. 500 list. The company is projecting 1999 sales of $30 million.

Roadhouse, started in Santa Monica in 1990, last year moved its facilities to Rancho Dominguez, an unincorporated area southeast of Compton, to take advantage of cheap warehouse space, according to Mark Chatow, vice president of marketing. Company management also discovered a reliable local work force, convenient freeway access, proximity to a local community college and an easy drive to the Port of Long Beach.

So far crime has been limited to the feral cats that keep tripping the alarms in the warehouse. In fact, Chatow says his only complaint about his new digs is a shortage of good restaurants near the office.

"The perception of this area is much different than the reality," Chatow said. "It has been a great move for us."

The other Los Angeles-area companies to make the list are:

* YMLA, No. 10, Los Angeles, apparel manufacturer

* Belkin Components, No. 25, Compton, maker of computer accessories

* Giroux Glass, No. 28, Los Angeles, construction subcontractor

* Girard's Fine Foods, No. 57, Los Angeles, maker of sauces, marinades and dressings

* Gene's Plating Works, No. 78, Los Angeles, wheel electroplating

* ABB Labels, No. 92, Los Angeles, manufactures tags and labels

The magazine compiled the list with help from Boston-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. Companies were ranked according to compound rate of revenue growth from 1993 to 1997. The businesses averaged five-year growth rates of 700%, 1997 sales of $13.9 million and a work force of 105 employees.

To qualify for the list, the companies had to have at least 51% of their physical operations located in inner-city areas, which were defined as core urban areas with household income and employment levels lower than the surrounding metropolitan area.

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