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RBJ 75: After 25 years, still true to our original goal

Twenty-five years ago, the first edition of this annual publication appeared. It had a different name-Rochester’s Top 50-and a number of companies found in its pages are now gone.
Yet this publication is still going, and it remains true to its original mission: to measure systematically the performance of the companies that form the core of the regional economy.
How we pursue that goal has evolved, in large part because of changes to the economy in Greater Rochester. For instance, public companies now play a smaller role than they did in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Rochester’s Top 50 debuted, Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox Corp. and Bausch & Lomb-Rochester’s traditional Big Three-employed nearly 64,000 people here. Today, those companies combined have roughly 11,000 local workers. Bausch & Lomb has ceased to be a public company and Kodak is operating under bankruptcy protection.
After seven years focused solely on public companies, we expanded this publication to include both public and private firms. Then in 2009, after publishing the 20th edition of Rochester’s Top 50 the previous year, we broadened its focus yet again. Along with the area’s leading public and privately held companies, we turned our attention to the top 25 non-profit organizations. The refocusing brought a new name: the RBJ 75.
The evolution continued with last year’s edition. For the first time, our main ranking of all three categories was based on the same criterion: total local employment. In years past, net income was the primary performance measure for the public companies. By switching to jobs, it was possible to make apples-to-apples comparisons.
We also reformatted our secondary performance charts and assembled them on a two-page layout. When they were spread throughout the publication, it was more difficult for readers to compare the numbers.
And our approach to the articles written for this special section took a new direction. Rather than focus almost entirely on the hard data in the main and secondary charts, we opted to profile five of the companies whose recent performance or future prospects seemed of particular interest.
All of last year’s changes have been retained. Also unchanged is our long-standing approach to tracking the public companies’ annual performance by looking at changes in sales, earnings and return to shareholders, in addition to employment. The publicly held companies are all homegrown: firms based in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne and Wyoming counties, as well as out-of-town corporations founded in Rochester that have not been sold. Eligibility was determined by each company’s status at the end of 2012.
Next year will mark the beginning, we hope, of another quarter-century for this publication. So, once again let me put out a request for ideas on new and better ways to spotlight Rochester’s leading public, private and non-profit companies. Please let us know how we can make next year’s 26th edition of the RBJ 75 even more interesting and valuable to you in your business. Contact me by phone at (585) 546-8303 or by email at [email protected].

7/26/13: RBJ 75 Special Supplement (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected].


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