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jmduke

Fortune 1000

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Fortune Magazine just released their annual Fortune 500 list (1000, if you count the industry list), and it appears Memphis companies had a decent year. They didn't include International Paper as a Memphis company yet as IP has not yet made the transition, but it's good to see two companies in the top 100 and AutoZone at 378 (bit of a slip though). On the 1000 list, First Horizon and Mueller made strong jumps to 575 and 886, respectively, while Thomas & Betts and Fred's made smaller gains. If you include IP, Memphis has 7 companies in the top 1000.

That got me to thinking, if IP deems Memphis good enough for its corporate HQ, are there other Fortune 1000 companies out there for which Memphis would be a suitable place for relocation? I know there are arguments concerning quality of life, crime, education, etc. with Memphis, but in order to keep from falling behind into a deeper Catch-22, it pays to start luring early and I throw out the following companies as logical relocations.

ServiceMaster first comes to mind as they have several divisions and some corporate people based here. They are currently HQ in suburban Chicago. Terminix has long ties to the Memphis area as I believe it was an offshoot of the hardwood flooring industry which used to thrive here.

Hilton is another possibility, although they have strong ties to the LA area. However, Memphis is arguably a better business climate, more centrally located, and their Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, and I think Doubletree brands are based here (left over from the Promus days), giving Memphis some drawing power.

FirstData bought Memphis-based Concord EFS a couple of years ago, but unfortunately moved some of those operations to the Denver area. Making a push for them would certainly help the tech desires of the Memphis area.

Schering-Plough. Why not return to your roots? Getting a "big pharma" company would certainly fit in with the biotech emphasis these days and you know the business climate is definitely better in the Mid-South than in NJ.

Regions Financial. They kept a strong presence in Memphis after the UP purchase and left Morgan Keegan intact. I think Memphis would be a better base from which to build that company nationally than Birmingham.

Medtronic. The last 5 years has seen this company invest significantly in Memphis, granted it's mostly the orthopaedics and prosthetics division. However it's a start and with biotech on the minds of the movers and shakers here, it's not totally far-fetched.

Swift Transportation. They purchased M.S. Carriers a few years back and still have significant ops. in the Memphis area. Current HQ is in Phoenix, but Memphis' central location and existing logistics infrastructure (not to mention the promise of a reconfigured I-55 across the MS River) have to make us attractive.

Thoughts?

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Not sure if any of these will ever move their HQ to Memphis, we should start looking for other companies that have no presence in the Memphis area to relocate here. We should actively recruit new businesses to the area.....hopefully one day Hilton will put their HQ here but I doubt it. Their HQ are currently LA where about 50 people work, but it's all the top dogs who like the glitzy lifestyle of Beverly Hills.

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Not sure if any of these will ever move their HQ to Memphis, we should start looking for other companies that have no presence in the Memphis area to relocate here. We should actively recruit new businesses to the area.....hopefully one day Hilton will put their HQ here but I doubt it. Their HQ are currently LA where about 50 people work, but it's all the top dogs who like the glitzy lifestyle of Beverly Hills.

Its nearly impossible and very rare for established companies to move their headquarters. Its a extremely expensive proposition, and corporate heads are usually very happy with their hometown. As hard as we might try to woo a company, their hometown tries hard to keep them there. (and other cities are always trying to woo away our companies as well!).

Its much easier to nurture startups and small companies here, and hope that they become a extremely succcessful huge companies. (like Fedex, Autozone, and Promus happened).

The other way is to get a company to open a division here, and slowly work on getting them to consolidate operations here. Lots of companies currently warehouse and distribute from Memphis, and it would be wise to work on getting them to keep expanding their presence until it doesn't make sense for their headquarters to be located elsewhere. All the internet retailers are good candidates: why keep expensive Silicon valley headquarters when the bulk of your operations occur in Memphis.

For a company like Hilton, you have to convince the corporate board that it is in the best interest of the shareholders to quit blowing money in LA and consolidate operations in a financially feasible city.

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I suppose that F-500 headquarters bring a certain amount of prestige, but sometimes the impact may not mean that much. For example, the IP thing--IP already had something like 2500 employees in Memphis and when they moved their headquarters to town, they basically just added corporate staff, something like 100 additional employees. And the irony is, that for reasons unrelated to the move, the company announced layoffs of something like 20% of their workforce worldwide shortly before that.

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I would love to see Regions Financial move its HQ to Memphis, just for the sentimental and prestige value of gaining back a Bank HQ to the city and state.

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On a related note about growing new companies, FedEx's IT Innovation Group is moving to the Emerge Memphis business incubator building in an old warehouse downtown across from the Tennessee Brewery.

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For a company like Hilton, you have to convince the corporate board that it is in the best interest of the shareholders to quit blowing money in LA and consolidate operations in a financially feasible city.

Well Paris Hilton (hotel heiress) is doing a music video with Three Six Mafia. Maybe she'll fall in love with the city and move it when she takes over :lol:

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First Data won't; they have a huge boner for Denver. What we need is to build companies that are interested in investing in the image of Memphis, from the ground up, and not sell out (like Holiday Inn, Plough, Concord EFS, UP, NBC, MS Carriers, etc). The difference as I see it is that companies in other cities are so firmly rooted in those cities that they resist almost all efforts to relocate the hq; they want their city to have the prestige of having the hq of their company, kind of like how Promus was for a long, long time. I remember they put a billboard after HI's exodus saying: Proud to call Memphis home, and after the Doubletree acquisition they pushed heavily to keep the hq in Memphis. I think Swift and First Data are similar (as are many companies in Atl, Charlotte, and even B'ham). I think here, you can point to Autozone and FedEx (to Indianapolis' chagrin, evidently, as they seem to think they can court and land at least a new World Hub from Memphis, and are actively courting FedEx).

I'd like to see companies like Schering Plough return to their roots. Another possibility may be one of the divisions of Saks/Proffits currently of Birmingham.

We need to actively court companies. We can no longer afford to be courteous and respect other cities' reliance and dependence on their home companies. Other cities are very cutthroat and aggressive. We have to play the same game. The most obvious targets are those with CEO connections with Memphis (Saks, maybe Regions -- I don't know what their officer succession plans are). Then the companies with historic ties to Memphis. Despite my skepticism of targeting First Data and Swift, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. But I just wanted to point out a different mindset that at least appears to exist with those companies that might be an obstacle. The mindset at least serves as a goal that we should try to instill in future heads of local companies. Have pride in being a Memphis company. Do what you can to be an acquirer that sticks with Memphis (like First Union and Bank of America did for the longest time in Charlotte). Make history in Memphis by helping Memphis make history in the corporate world.

Just my opinion. End rant. Sorry. I do think there are endless possibilities, and we should start being active predatory pursuers.

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Of the companies mentioned here, ServiceMaster is probably the most likely to relocate it's HQ to Memphis. It would be similar what happened with IP. They already have most of their corporate staff here, anyway. I would say the main reason the HQ remains in Chicago is because CEO Jonathan Ward and a few other top execs live there. Over time, however, they will promote more Memphis-based officers to top exec positions and those folks will favor staying here.

I worked for ServiceMaster for 7 years and always expected them to move the HQ here someday. When they sold off almost all of the business that was based in Chicago, I thought it was inevitable. Still hasn't happened, though.

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Well Paris Hilton (hotel heiress) is doing a music video with Three Six Mafia.

Ick. Isn't that one of the signs of the apocalypse ?

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Of the companies mentioned here, ServiceMaster is probably the most likely to relocate it's HQ to Memphis. It would be similar what happened with IP. They already have most of their corporate staff here, anyway. I would say the main reason the HQ remains in Chicago is because CEO Jonathan Ward and a few other top execs live there. Over time, however, they will promote more Memphis-based officers to top exec positions and those folks will favor staying here.

I worked for ServiceMaster for 7 years and always expected them to move the HQ here someday. When they sold off almost all of the business that was based in Chicago, I thought it was inevitable. Still hasn't happened, though.

I didn't realize they sold most of the non-Memphis businesses. I did know that the execs appear loyal to Chicago. Hopefully... someday... soon.

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I didn't realize they sold most of the non-Memphis businesses. I did know that the execs appear loyal to Chicago. Hopefully... someday... soon.

Yep. ServiceMaster used to be divided into two main branches....Consumer Services (Terminix, TruGreen, American Home Shield, Merry Maids, ServiceMaster Cleaning, and a few other brands) and Management Services (facility management, maintenance, food service, etc. for larger facilities). Consumer Services was created when ServiceMaster acquired Terminix in 1986. At first, it just conisted of the ServiceMaster cleaning franchises and Terminix, and since Terminix was far bigger, they based Consumer Services in Terminix's home city of Memphis. The rest of the company, which was primarily Management Services, remained in Chicago (actually Downers Grove in suburban DuPage Co.).

Consumer Services grew rapidly between 1986 and 2000 as they acquired brand after brand. Meanwhile, Management Services plateaued and started losing money. It was sold to Aaramark in 2001. I was actually one of a few Management Services people who worked here in Memphis, so it's probably a good thing I left about a year before that went down.

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Thanks for the info. Man, that was five years ago and I had no clue. I had looked up Servicemaster a while back to get a sense of its roots b/c I was curious whether it might be possible they would move, and on the home page under corporate info/history they stressed the founder or CEO's connection to Chicago, if I remember correctly. Oh well, crossing my fingers...

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We have a better chance of getting a F500 company to move here than we do from growing one organically based on the MBJ's small biz award nominee list. It mostly focuses on doctors, attorneys, distributors and logistics firms. None of which could be built into a multi-thousand employee billion $ firm. Plan Express is the only one on that list that has a chance of being huge, in my opinion. Either the MBJ isn't seeing small businesses with that sort of growth opportunity or they just aren't here.

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I think you'd be surprised at the kinds of companies that are here. I was shocked four or five years ago when I saw Accredo Health on many of the national lists. SAme with Concord EFS. There was a tire company and a real estate firm/hotel operator that were also knocking on the door of some of the lists. I don't know if they were listed on MBJ at the time. From my relatively uninformed perspective, they came from kind of out of nowhere. OF course both sold out. I think there is a talent pool to have those kinds of businesses in hospitality (why aren't Memphians starting new hotel brands?), banking, and medical.

I think there are companies with potential, like Back Yard Burger, Huey's, and I'm sure there're others that I'm overlooking, that have potential, but they need folks in mgmt position that are aggressive.

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I think you'd be surprised at the kinds of companies that are here. I was shocked four or five years ago when I saw Accredo Health on many of the national lists. SAme with Concord EFS. There was a tire company and a real estate firm/hotel operator that were also knocking on the door of some of the lists. I don't know if they were listed on MBJ at the time. From my relatively uninformed perspective, they came from kind of out of nowhere. OF course both sold out. I think there is a talent pool to have those kinds of businesses in hospitality (why aren't Memphians starting new hotel brands?), banking, and medical.

I think there are companies with potential, like Back Yard Burger, Huey's, and I'm sure there're others that I'm overlooking, that have potential, but they need folks in mgmt position that are aggressive.

I'm mainly talking about the MBJ's Small Business Award nominees and the lack of a true "growable" company. Accredo and Concord EFS were there at one point and were obvious companies that could "grow". Doctors, lawyers, logistics companies and landscape firms are easily grown into multi-thousand employee, multi billion dollar companies.

Concord and Accredo were under the radar for a long time for most of Memphis. Concord for it's esoteric, niche business that boomed as electronic money became a reality for all of us. Accredo went through a branding/name change while I was living elsewhere and boomed. Before I left it was part of SHS, which was begun at Le Bonheur I believe. When I came back, it was a huge public co.

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