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    Privately-held C-stores Movin' On Up

    Flying J, Kum & Go, Wawa and many others climb Forbes list of largest private companies.

    Forbes magazine's list of largest private companies for 2006 includes several major convenience industry players. Many of which, including RacTrac Petroleum and Flying J, have vaulted up the list from last year's rankings, gaining 23 and 13 spots, respectively.

    Topping the list of 394 private companies for the convenience industry is Flying J, at respectable number 17, up from 30th in 2005. It made the list by having an annual revenue of $9.45 billion and 14,600 employees.

    The next company to make the list for the c-store industry was QuikTrip at number 28, up from 32 in 2005, which made $7.16 billion in annual revenue and 8,500 employees.

    Moseying up the ranks is Sinclair Oil, at number 38, from 47 last year. The company reports $5.6 billion in revenue and 7,000 employees. On its heels was Gulf Oil, at number 39, with $5.4 billion in revenue and 350 employees. Gulf Oil was the only convenience industry company to drop down in rank this year, as it placed 37th in 2005.

    RaceTrac Petroleum landed at number 42, a large gain from 65th place in 2005, with $4.97 in revenue and 3,962 employees. Close behind was Colonial Group at number 47, up from number 52 in 2005. Colonial is the operator of 70 Enmark retail gas stations, with $4.50 billion in revenue and 7,800 employees.

    Next was Wawa, at 63 from 75 last year, with $3.91 billion in revenue and almost 16,000 employees.

    Another gainer in 2006 was Sheetz, which landed at number 79, from 87 on the list in 2005. It saw revenue of $3.32 billion and maintains 10,650 employees.

    Rounding out the top 100 companies on the list was Cumberland Farms (83) and Red Apple Group (84), both with $3.30 billion in annual revenue. Cumberland farms, which ranked 78 last year, is supported by 7,000 employees while Red Apple, operator of 400 Kwik-Fill and Red Apple convenience stores according to the company's Web site, has 7,800 employees. Red Apple ranked 114 in 2005.

    Rounding out the list was:

    -- No. 175, Truman Arnold Cos., operator of Road Runner convenience stores, with $2 billion in revenue and 500 employees.
    -- No. 216, Warren Equities, operator of Xtra Mart convenience stores, with $1.69 in revenue and 2,055 employees.
    -- No. 267, Kum & Go, with $1.43 billion in revenue and 3,663 employees.
    -- No. 332, Gate Petroleum, operator of 225 convenience stores in six southeastern states, according to the company's Web site, with $1.17 in revenue and 4,000 employees.
    -- No. 382, Stewart's Shops, with 300 convenience stores, $1.02 billion in revenue and 4,000 employees.

    All companies on Forbes' list of largest private companies must have a minimum of $ 1 billion in annual revenue. The companies often have too few shareholders to be required to file financial statements, or ownership of the companies is restricted to groups such as employees or families. Foreign companies or those with more than 50 percent owned by foreign or other private companies are excluded from the list, as well as those with fewer than 100 employees.

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