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Top forty rural companies.


While it's hard to ignore the major impact that Winnipeg-based companies have on the overall economic well-being of the province, the significant role played by Manitoba's rural companies cannot be underestimated or undervalued either. Last year, in our first annual ranking of the TOP 40 Rural Companies, the value of businesses located outside the city of Winnipeg was underscored by the facts and figures emanating from the rankings.

Sales generated during 1987 by the TOP 40 rural companies totaled some $1.4 billion, and those companies on the list accounted for 6,435 jobs. A quick look at this year's tabulation reveals that last year was certainly no fluke - in fact, when studying it closely, it can be said that the list is even more potent this year.

At first glance, a few eyebrows may be raised and some questions may be asked over the fact that this year's total sales volume for all 40 companies is down about $280 million from last year. How can the 1989 rankings be as powerful as those of 1988 if the dollar volumes are down 20 percent? Three reasons: Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, Manfor Ltd. and the Penn-Co Group.

Wawanesa was the number one company a year ago, but is absent from this year's list as the management team at the successful general insurance company politely pointed out that in reality they are a Winnipeg-based firm with senior officers located in the corporate headquarters on Broadway. So, that's $325 million in sales lopped off this year's list right off the bat. Combine this with the fact that Manfor Ltd., and its $90 million in sales is now owned by a Montreal-based operation and that Penn-Co of Blumenort ($70 million a year ago) declined to participate this year, the 1989 TOP 40 has been decimated by the loss of a whopping $485 million in annual revenue.

Nevertheless, the remaining firms (along with 16 new faces) rallied to the cause and lifted the total sales figure over the $1 billion mark again. Further evidence of the growing strength of our list can be seen at the other end of the spectrum, where three companies tied for 38th, 39th and 40th places with 1988 sales of $2 million. Last year, $1 million in sales was good enough to make the grade.

This year's new number one, with annual sales of $409 million is Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting of Flin Flon, which moves up from $300 million and second place a year ago, Selkirk's Manitoba Rolling Mills now holds down second spot, as it increased its sales from $100 million to $125 million. Simplot Chemical of Brandon jumps two places to third ($80 million in sales represents a $5 million increase) while international recreational vehicle manufacturer Triple E Canada of Winkler shoots up four places to fourth. Rounding out the top five is the book/magazine printing giant D.W. Friesen of Altona thanks to a $5 million increase in sales to $43 million.

Steinbach Credit Union is the first new face on this years, TOP 40, placing seventh with $32.5 million in revenue. It's followed closely by A.L. Group of Companies of Winkler with $32 million. Seven retail co-operatives (six of them new this year) make their presence felt, with the Portage la Prairie Consumers Co-op leading the way in 15th place with sales of $18 million.

As was the case a year ago, manufacturing companies lead the way, both in terms of the number of representatives and dollar volumes recorded. Although the number of companies this year is down eight to 13, sales figures are up an impressive $290 million to $723.5 million. The number of employees in this sector is also way up this year from 2,243 to 3,866. A new category, Consumer/Retail makes a big impression this year with 10 representatives accounting for $158 million (this sector is comprised largely of the aforementioned co-ops). Nearly 1,000 people are employed in this sector. The service-oriented companies are again well represented, as 11 firms account for $137.6 million and 1,139 jobs.

Once again this year, many small cities and towns have contributed businesses and industries to this year's TOP 40 rankings. Twenty communities have companies on the 1988 listing, compared with 19 a year ago. Brandon again tops the list with six companies, but it has been tied by Portage la Prairie, the province's fourth largest centre. Steinbach drops to third with four companies, with Winkler and Morden next with three each. Selkirk, Flin Flon and Thompson all have two representatives on the TOP 40 rural companies.
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Title Annotation:Manitoba
Author:Bain, Don
Publication:Manitoba Business
Article Type:directory
Date:May 1, 1989
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