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When the going gets tough....

Manitoba's Top 100 bangs tough in the face of demanding economic conditions,

waning markets and restrictive taxes. he Manitoba BUSINESS Ma azine Top 100 continued to show signs of strength and stability in 1989, despite an economic slowdown, particularly in the last quarter, climbing interest rates and tougher, more competitive encountered by many Top 100 companies, the decade closed, somewhat surprisingly some might say, with the majority of the province's elite in pretty good shape.

Revenue generated by the Top 100 rose by nearly $1.6 billion, 5.9 percent over prior year - a fact that is particularly significant when considering that one of the mainstays of years' past, Inter-City Gas Corporation and its nearly $2 billion in annual sales, no longer qualifies as a Manitoba company. On April 2, the company formally completed what had been known for some time - the sale of its propane and utilities divisions to Vancouver-based West Coast Energy Inc. (which in turn sold the propane division to Petro-Canada Ltd. of Calgary) - thereby eliminating it as a Manitoba Top 100 company.

Still, the province's corporate elite rallied to the cause to pick up the slack. No less than 70 companies reported increases in revenues last year, compared to just 55 firms that said their sales were up a year ago. Only 10 on this year's list said their sales were down in 1989 from prior year, compared with 17 from last year's rankings who reported a decrease.

Growth in sales figures was steadier and more consistent this past year, with eight companies reporting a rise of at least 30 per, cent, compared with just four a year ago. Leading the way is New Flyer Industries, Manitoba's pre-eminent bus builder which has certainly rebounded in grand fashion after several lean years in the mid-80s. The company registered an impressive 62.5 percent rise in sales over prior year, in the process, moving up 14 places in the standings to number 47. Somewhat surprisingly, in the face of a less active building industry, two general contractors placed in the top five in terms of percentage growth in annual sales. Bird Construction was second with a 56.5 percent rise moving up seven places to number 32, and Kraft Construction was fifth with a 41.3 percent increase in sales, resulting in the biggest move upward in the standings 19 places to number 65.

Rounding out the top five in terms of sales growth is Manitoba Telephone System which posted an impressive 52.7 percent gain and Credit Union Central of Manitoba, which, with nearly 50 percent growth in revenues climbed 15 spots in the rankings to number 50.

The most significant change within the Top 10 is the aforementioned absence of Inter-City Gas, last year's number five company. Still, seven firms recorded revenues in excess of $1 billion in 1989, headed by perennial number one The Great-West Life Assurance Company which became Manitoba's first $5 billion firm. Second place Canadian Wheat Board rallied with a solid $4.2 billion, while third place Federal Industries Ltd. continued its remarkable growth pattern with another substantial increase in revenues (19.4 percent) making it the third $2 billion company in the province. Financial products star Investors Group holds on to fourth spot, with revenues just under $2 billion thanks to a 6.7 percent increase.

Making one of the biggest charges, and biggest rebounds this past year was Cargill Limited, which moved from seventh place to fifth on the strength of a 31.6 percent rise in sales to $1.463 billion. The venerable james Richardson & Sons, Limited holds on to sixth place at $1.2 billion, a modest 1.0 percent increase over prior year. Up one to number seven is another grain giant UGG, which enjoyed a solid 17.6 percent growth in sales to $1.037 billion. Also climbing a notch is long-time merchandising king Gendis Inc., coming in at $748.1 million, an 11 percent rise in sales over prior year.

It's another grain company taking over ninth spot - XCAN Grain Ltd., which moves into the Top 10 for the first time thanks to an impressive 36.8 percent rise in sales to $669 million. Rounding out the Top 10 is the province's leading crown corporation, Manitoba Hydro, with sates of $664 million, up 9.1 percent over prior year.

Twelve companies make their first appearance on the Corporate Elite Top 100 this year. Topping the list of newcomers is Manitoba Pork est., known formerly as the Manitoba Hog Producer's Marketing Board, which makes its entrance at $204.7 million, good for 23rd place. Two other provincially-run corporations also make their initial presence felt on the Top 100 - number 29 Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba with revenues of $148.5 Million, and number 40 Manitoba Crop Insurance Corporation, with sales of $84 million. The first of the new privately-held companies on this year's rankings is number 72 Ernie Keller Construction with a solid $35 million in sales.

Six companies return to this year's Top 100 after an absence of a year or two. The always newsworthy Can West Global Communications Corp. heads this list of returnees with a 24th place ranking on the strength of $187 million in sates.

In terms of employment, the overall number of people drawing pay cheques from the Top 100 companies is down about 2,600, or 2.8 percent from prior year. This represents the second straight year employment figures have tumbled, but there is good reason this year. The departure if ICG means 4,500 jobs are lopped off our total right off the bat. Acklands Limited, another regular on our Top 100 did not participate this year, and with its listing went some 2,500 jobs. Throw in a couple of the mid-size firms that employ 100 or so people who chose not to be included this year, and, well, you get the picture.

Therefore, this year's employment figure of 92,521 stacks up very well indeed when compared with the 95,169 of a year ago. On the upside of this figure is the fact that average sales per employee has risen from $291,061 to $302,168, a 4 percent gain.
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Title Annotation:largest Manitoba businesses show strength despite economic slowdown
Author:Bain, Donald
Publication:Manitoba Business
Article Type:Directory
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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