Revenues jumped for Houston’s private businesses as the economy rebounded

Houston’s private businesses thrived last year as the economy rebounded from the 2020 pandemic recession.

Revenues rose across businesses and industries, according to the Houston Chronicle’s survey of private businesses in the region.

The Friedkin Group, a conglomerate of automotive, hospitality, entertainment, sports and adventure companies, took first place as the survey’s largest private company. Friedkin generated $10.7 billion in revenue in 2021, up from No. 2 the previous year, as it reported revenue across its entire business, not just its largest stake, Gulf States Toyota. .

Close behind Friedken was newcomer to the list, Tricon Energy, a chemical distributor that reported $10.2 billion in revenue last year. Calpine, which had held the top spot since the company was taken private by new owners in 2018, slipped to third on the list. But the merchant power company’s revenue still jumped 9% in 2021 to $9.6 billion.

G&A Partners, a trade organization of employers, also fell on the list, rising from No. 4 to No. 3. But a 30% increase in revenue to $4.6 billion was more than a consolation. .

Homebuilders, among the few industries that have thrived during the pandemic, have also seen rising revenues but falling rankings. Revenue at David Weekley Homes, which fell from No. 7 to No. 4, soared 12% to around $2.8 billion. Perry Homes fell to No. 10 from 9, but its revenue jumped 25% to $1.7 billion.

Sales of new and existing single-family homes jumped to 106,229 in the Houston area in 2021, up 10.3% from the previous record of 96,271 in 2020, according to the Houston Association of Realtors. The amount spent on buying homes soared more than 30% to a record $47 billion.

A global city

Major private companies all have ties to the global economy, said Patrick Jankowski, an economist at the Greater Houston Partnership, a business finance economic development group.

The vast majority of companies do business outside of the United States, whether importing or working with companies overseas. Ultimately, having global companies headquartered in Houston is good news for the local economy, Jankowksi said.

“These companies may have operations that serve the global market, but the decision makers and headquarters are here in Houston,” Jankowski said. “They are spending money in Houston to maintain their operations.”

A report by the Greater Houston Partnership, released in May, found that Houston’s ties to the global economy are growing. Houston has trade relationships with more than 200 countries, and the ports are even busier now than in the pre-pandemic era.

Exports topped $140 billion last year, surpassing the 2019 record of $128.7 billion.

This is good news for Tricon Energy, which has benefited from soaring global demand and prices for chemicals. Founded in 1996, Tricon does business in 110 countries.

Tricon profited alongside Houston-area chemical manufacturers, who use Tricon to distribute their products. Tricon doubled its revenue last year and expects it to increase six-fold this year, said Tricon CEO Ignacio Torras.

“Houston is really becoming the center of growth and expansion in the petrochemical business,” he said.

No “overnight success”

But it takes time for companies to build global connections and succeed. The youngest company among the top 10 private companies is Ascend Performance Materials, a manufacturer founded in 2009. Many others, including the Friedkin Group, were founded in the 1960s.

“There is no overnight success,” Jankowski said. “These are the companies that have built up market share and funded overtime.”

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