ColoradoBiz Top 250 Private Companies: adaptability evident in century-old stalwarts.

Author:Taylor, Mike

Among the state's privately held companies, startups tend to make the most news, either for their promises of exponential growth or their spectacular crashes.

But Colorado doesn't lack for old companies that have survived and adapted through decades of change. In fact, this year's ColoradoBiz ranking of the state's Top 250 Private Companies boasts eight firms at least a century old, and 24 dating back at least 50 years. A sample:

* GREELEY-BASED MEAT PROCESSOR SWIFT & CO. The oldest as well as the top-ranked firm on this year's list dates back to Gus Swift, who as a 16-year old in 1855 borrowed $20 from his dad to buy a heifer and parlayed the meat sales into more cattle and eventually his own meat store in Massachusetts. Swift & Co. later became the red-meat subsidiary of giant ConAgra Foods before an ownership group headed by Dallas-based Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst and Vail-based Booth Creek Management acquired controlling interest in 2002. In late 2004, the same group purchased the remainder of ConAgra's interest. Today Swift is a privately held firm with publicly traded debt and is the second-largest processor of both beef and pork in the world.

* JOHNSON STORAGE & MOVING. William Johnson founded the company in 1900 on 221 Broadway St. in Denver, two years before Ransom Eli Olds began churning out the first widely affordable automobiles at his Oldsmobile factory in Lansing, Mich. In the ensuing years, Johnson Storage & Moving became one of the first regional transportation firms to retire its horses and go to motorized trucks. Now headquartered in Centennial, the firm is in its fourth generation of family ownership, headed up by brothers Mark Johnson and Jim Johnson.

* PCL CONSTRUCTION. Canadian Ernie Poole started out 100 years ago in the province of Saskatchewan building four-room schoolhouses on the windswept prairie. The company's U.S. headquarters are now based in Denver, and it is the largest general contracting organization in Canada and the 10th largest in the U.S.

* XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS. Fred Harvey opened the first of his many "Harvey Houses" in 1876 in Topeka, Kan., to serve train passengers from Chicago traveling west. In an era when most railroad food was unpalatable if not inedible, Harvey devised a telegraph system to notify his network of restaurants down the tracks well in advance of train arrivals, making it possible to feed hundreds of passengers in a short time. He later added hotels, gift shops and news stands along the railroad route.

Xanterra already had a chain of hotels and restaurants when it acquired Fired Harvey Co. Its purchase of TW Recreational Services in 1995 made Xanterra, now based in Greenwood Village, the largest park concessionaire in the U.S.

While century-old companies have made their mark mostly in basic services, the top revenue gainers in the Private Top 250 reflect Colorado's high-tech presence. Of the 20 companies that enjoyed the highest year-over-year revenue increases from 2004 to 2005, seven are consulting or recruiting firms. The remaining 13 are spread among construction, IT, marketing, sales, finance, insurance, manufacturing and event planning.

BY MIKE TAYLOR, MANAGING EDITOR, COLORADOBIZ

For an alphabetical listing of the Top 250, with company addresses, heads of companies and URLs, visit www.cobizmag.com

TOP 250 PRIVATE COMPANIES Ranked by revenues '05 Gross '04 2006 2005 Revenue Revenue % No. of Rank Rank Company (000's) (000's) Change Employees 1 Swift & Co. 9,350,027 9,669,102 3% 20,200 2 1 CH2M Hill 3,800,000 3,100,000 23% 18,000 3 3 Great-West Life & 3,300,000 2,600,000 27% 6,600 Annuity Insurance Co. 4 2 Vistar Corp. 2,900,000 2,639,000 10% 3,100 5 5 Burt Automotive 2,107,146 1,922,508 10% 926 Network 6 4 Hensel Phelps 1,784,542 2,041,086 -13% 2,261 Construction Co. 7 8 Professional Paint 1,200,000 496,000 142% 5,000 Inc. 8 6 PCL Construction 1,110,000 853,673 30% 2,900 Enterprises Inc. 9 11 American Furniture 332,000 312,000 6% 1,600 Warehouse 10 26 Republic Financial 329,588 115,799 185% 126 Corp. 11 Simpson Housing 316,696 225,073 41% 1,050 LLLP 12 12 Mike Shaw 260,805 275,439 -5% 343 Automotive Group 13 13 Xanterra Parks & 251,000 248,000 1% 8,000 Resorts 14 16 Ralph Schomp 214,161 205,330 4% 380 Automotive Inc. 15 20 FCI Constructors 213,688 143,162 49% 243 Inc. 16 15 Village Homes of 205,158 216,118 -5% 237 Colorado 17 19 Shaw Construction 203,000 150,000 35% 140 18 17 Alpine Lumber Co. 188,781 167,793 13% 450 19 21 Haselden 179,000 142,000 26% 325 Construction 20 24 Roche Constructors 153,315 130,572 17% 100 Inc. 21 22 Tuff Shed Inc. 152,000 131,000 16% 1,200 22 28 McClain Finlon 148,000 101,000 47% 154 Advertising 23 25 Holland & Hart LLP 141,000 124,000 14% 743 24 38 Agland Inc. 135,010 86,510 56% 180 25 33 Terra Firma 124,906 94,446 32% 25 26 29 Vitamin Cottage 122,200 99,200 23% 820 Natural Food Markets Inc. 27 27 Policy Studies 121,000 109,057 11% 2,000 Inc. (PSI) 28 31 Cigarette Store 119,000 95,517 25% 450 Corp. 29 35 Alpine Banks of 113,200 92,500 22% 518 Colorado 30 37 Noodles & Company 113,000 95,000 19% 3,000 31 36 Red Hawk 112,608 91,972 22% 795 Industries LLC 32 32 Peerless Tyre Co. 111,800 95,000 18% 235 33 34 RK Mechanical Inc. 101,972 93,313 9% 678 34 58 Torix General 101,300 39,800 155% 100 Contractors LLC 35 51 Palace Construction 98,000 48,000 104% 191 Co. Inc. 36 39 Neenan Co. 95,000 87,000 9% 175 37 40 Brannan Sand & 90,000 82,000 10% 400 Gravel Co. 38 41 Baxa Corp. 85,959 69,099 24% 353 39 45 Andavo Travel 80,000 60,000 33% 65 40 Dellenbach Motors 78,695 78,802 0% 125 41 42 Guy's Floor Service 75,000 69,000 9% 475 Inc. 42 44 Hercules Industries 71,000 61,453 16% 292 Inc. 43 48 Polk Majestic 63,000 51,000 24% 103 Travel Group 44 52 Golden Triangle 62,500 48,600 29% 97 Construction 45 49 Peak Resources Inc. 57,067 50,406 13% 41 46 46 Calcon Constructors 57,000 59,000 -3% 100 Inc. 47 43 Merrick & Co. 56,000 51,100 10% 350 48 Cain Travel Group 55,200 44,266 25% 41 Inc. 49 47 Fresh Produce 53,900 43,000 25% 212 Sportswear Inc. 50 61 Lockton Cos. of 50,100 35,000 43% 223 Colorado Inc. 51 Van Gilder 50,000 43,000 16% 270 Insurance Corp. 52 New Frontier Bank 48,618 31,393 55% 165 53 57 Publication 47,600 35,900 33% 311 Printers Corp. 54 56 Johnson Storage & 44,000 40,000 10% 260 Moving Co. LLC 55 63 Global Technology 43,500 30,000 45% 42 Resources Inc. 56 50 Drahota Commercial 42,000 47,000 -11% 70 LLC 57 61 PRACO Ltd. 41,395 35,576 16% 66 58 30 FMH Material 38,459 37,484 3% 168 Handling Solutions Inc. 59 66 Pharmaca 38,000 26,000 46% 250 Integrative Pharmacy Inc. 60 Employer Services...

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