Magazine honors Thompson Hospitality

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Warren M. Thompson, president and chairman of Herndon-based Thompson Hospitality Corp., has subscribed to Black Enterprise magazine since he was a college student more than 30 years ago. He found inspiration in its stories about minority-owned companies that overcame challenges.

So it was especially sweet when Thompson learned that Black Enterprise had picked Thompson Hospitality as its 2010 Company of the Year. Past recipients have included Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Inc.  “It really is a tremendous honor and extremely meaningful to me,” Thompson says.

Thompson Hospitality was recognized in Black Enterprise’s June issue, which also included its annual ranking of the top 100 minority-owned companies. The ranking is based on financial performance, business acumen and potential for long-term growth in a variety of industries.

Thompson Hospitality, founded in 1992, operates restaurants and corporate and institutional dining facilities. It had revenue of more than $321 million last year and ranked as the ninth largest food service company in the nation.

Thompson credits the company’s growth to three factors: a longstanding senior executive team, an entrepreneurial spirit and diversification. “We have certain business lines that do much better in difficult economic times and others that will prosper when the economy comes back,” Thompson says. “We’ve worked very hard to achieve that balance.”

Much of the company’s growth last year came from food services for schools. Thompson says the percentage of schools farming out their lunchroom services has jumped from 18 percent to 25 percent since 2006 and continues to grow. Thompson Hospitality also has seen a 9 percent increase in the number of students using its dining facilities at historically black colleges, a niche market for the company. Hospitals represent another area of significant growth, with many outsourcing facilities management as well as food service.

Thompson believes the company can top $1 billion in revenue and rank among the nation’s top five food-service companies by the time he turns day-to-day operations over to his sister, Benita Thompson-Byas, now vice president of joint ventures. “We will have to do some acquisitions and continue to grow organically at a fairly rapid rate,” Thompson says. “But I think we can get there within the next five to seven years.”

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