Wade Ford owner Steve Ewing rolls donations of toiletries, clothing and more to the Atlanta Mission as a part of the dealership’s community outreach. Photo courtesy of Wade Ford.

The five largest black-owned businesses in Atlanta

The prophetic words uttered by Booker T. Washington just before the dawn of the 20th century have not been muted by the passage of time.

Washington, who was born on a Virginia slave plantation and went on to found the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, famously declared that a man’s level of success is measured by “the obstacles which he has overcome.”

» RELATED: Atlanta takes 15 spots in list of largest black businesses

And, as the only black man permitted to address the 1895 Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition at Piedmont Park, Washington repeatedly urged freed blacks to “cast down your bucket where you are,” rather than migrate north with hopes of escaping the discrimination that dampened their entrepreneurial dreams.

Twelve decades later, Washington’s words still resonate around town.

Every year, Black Enterprise magazine ranks America’s 100 most successful black-owned businesses in a number of categories. Based on the magazine’s research for 2018, metro Atlanta placed 12 firms on the lists.

The ranked businesses are in four categories: industrial/service (including construction and manufacturing companies, media companies, IT services and others) as well as auto dealerships, advertising and financial services.

Most of those companies are rooted in the construction, contracting and hospitality industries and headquartered in the metro area. They’re on the industrial/service list.

Here are the five largest Atlanta-area businesses based on revenue and staff size named in Black Enterprise magazine’s list of the 100 largest black-owned businesses in the US. 

» RELATED: Atlanta black-owned businesses you probably didn't know about

2) (on the auto list) Wade Ford Inc.

Founded in 1933, Wade Ford is the only Motor Trend Certified dealership in the metro area. CEO Steve Ewing bought the dealership in 2002.

CEO: Steve Ewing

Industry: Auto dealerships

Staff size: 162

Reported revenue (in millions): $674.107

5) (on the financial services list) Citizens Trust Bank

Founded in 1921 on Auburn Avenue, CTB  has several financial centers in Georgia and Alabama, along with stand alone ATMs.

CEO: Cynthia N. Day

Industry: Financial services and insurance.

Staff size: 91

Reported Assets (in millions): $411.073

25) H.J. Russell & Co., Atlanta

Founded in 1952, H.J. Russell is a world-renowned standard bearer for commercial and residential real estate development, general construction and property management. The Center For Civil And Human Rights, Atlanta Streetcar, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena bear the marks of H.J. Russell’s expertise.

CEO: Michael B. Russell

Industry: Construction, real estate, and food concessions

Staff size: 162

Reported Revenue (in millions): $178.151

» RELATED: 5 black-owned businesses killing the agriculture game right now

27) Jackmont Hospitality Inc.

The late three-time Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr. was among the founders of this restaurant management company. In 2019, Jackmont Hospitality was named Franchise Group of the Year at the TGI Fridays’ Global Business Conference.

CEO: Daniel J. Halpern

Industry: Quick service/restaurants, food services

Staff size: 2468

Reported revenue (in millions): $165.900

15) (on the auto list) The Baran Company L.L.C.  (Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead)

Power couple Gregory and Juanita Baranco founded their first car dealership in 1978. All their hard work culminated in the very successful Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead dealership.

CEO: Gregory Baranco 

Industry: Auto dealerships

Staff size: 185

Reported Revenue (in millions): $161.566

Black Enterprise’s ranking was compiled before the opening of Tyler Perry Studios, for which the movie mogul bought land in 2015 for $20 million. Later, he invested $250 million of his own money into it for its expansion. The studio is 330 acres, making it bigger in acreage than any of the five major studios in Los Angeles. Since the expansion, the Fort McPherson studios has hosted the Democratic presidential debate and the 2019 Miss Universe pageant.

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