There were 233,958 minority-owned businesses in L.A. County generating a combined $28 billion in annual revenues and employing 230,974 people, according to the 1992 Economic Census, the most recent numbers available.
These figures represent a substantial increase from the previous census in 1987. In particular, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in L.A. almost doubled over the five-year period. While the number of African American- and Asian-owned businesses in L.A. did not grow nearly as much over the period, the revenues of those businesses soared. Combined sales for African American businesses in L.A. County grew by 178 percent to $3.6 billion from 1987 to 1992, and for Asian businesses by 146 percent to $16.9 billion.
Almost all companies on this year’s list reported higher revenues for 1997 than for 1996. Particularly strong performances were posted by Asian-owned computer products distributor Avus in the City of Industry, with a 110 percent increase in sales, and Hispanic-owned JJJ Floor Covering in Pico Rivera with 77 percent sales growth. Other notables are Native American-owned Arctic Slope Construction in Pasadena, which recorded a 69 percent increase in revenues, and Board Ford, an African American-owned car dealership in Whittier with a 61 percent increase in sales.
In the seven years since its founding, ViewSonic has established itself as a leader in display technology, building computer monitors that compete successfully with international giants such as Sony, Mitsubishi, and Philips. ViewSonic reported $823 million in revenues for 1997, a growth of 292 percent over a three-year period.
ViewSonic was founded by James Chu, an immigrant from Taiwan. Chu, 40, started out selling keyboards, first in Taiwan and, since 1986, in California. In 1990, he spotted a market niche for a company that could produce high-end monitors for lower prices than those being charged by the established top brands. The strategy paid off, and ViewSonic has become a household name in the monitor business. In January of this year, the company received the Product of the Year Award for 21-Inch Monitors from PC Magazine.
Last year, the company opened its new corporate headquarters in Walnut. Besides the 300 employees, the building houses 15 Gouldian finches, the birds that have become the trademark of the company.