It was the year before the start of the new millennium and 1999 wasted no time in generating some of the biggest events of its decade.
It was the year before the start of the new millennium and 1999 wasted no time in generating some of the biggest events of its decade. In January, the Euro currency was launched and President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the Senate began. In February, the New Carissa ran aground off Coos Bay and Clinton was acquitted. The “Melissa worm” in March infected Microsoft applications, and April brought the unspeakable tragedy of the Columbine High School shootings.
The year also saw the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife and sister-in-law when their plane crashed, Lance Armstrong winning his first Tour de France, and a Portland jury ordering Philip Morris to pay $81 million to the family of a man who died of lung cancer. My Space, Bluetooth and Napster debuted and Viacom announced it would buy CBS for $36 billion, the largest media acquisition in history. The average price of a new house was $131,750, gas cost $1.22 a gallon and the Dow closed above 11,000 for the first time.
Closer to home, Oregon Business published its Private 150 list, an annual ranking of the private Oregon companies with the largest gross revenues. Topping the list were two companies with revenues of more than $1 billion: window and door king Jeld-Wen and wood products distributor North Pacific Group. The editor’s note that ran with the list proudly noted that 97 of the 150 companies had a website.
It was the last year that there were only two companies in the billion-dollar club. Over the next 10 years the list rose and fell with Oregon’s economy:
In 2005 there were four: Jeld-Wen, North Pacific, Hampton Affiliates, Les Schwab and Roseburg Forest Products. The housing and construction industries roared.
In 2006, there were seven: Jeld-Wen, Hampton Affiliates, Epic Aviation (fuel distribution), Les Schwab, North Pacific, Roseburg Forest Products and Colson &Colson/Holiday Retirement. The addition of Roseburg made three forest product companies on the list as the housing industry boom continued.
In 2007, there were nine: Jeld-Wen, Hoffman Construction, Les Schwab, Epic, North Pacific, Colson & Colson, Roseburg Forest Products, Hampton Affiliates and Vesta (electronic payments). The boom was at its peak …
In 2008, there were six: Jeld-Wen, Hoffman, Les Schwab, Epic, Roseburg Forest, North Pacific. The construction industry and the rest of the economy collapsed …
In 2009, there were four: Jeld-Wen, Les Schwab, Epic, Hoffman, Roseburg Forest. And the collapse continued …
And then there were two. The 2010 billion-dollar club is dialed back down to 1999 levels with Jeld-Wen and Les Schwab the lone survivors of the Great Recession Massacre. The club is not the only indicator of a healthy economy, but it’s not a bad thumbnail. Here’s hoping the picture gets better next year.