Serious Business

20 red coat jogger plus walk plus bldgsLinda Burton posting from Richmond, Virginia – TD Robinson takes his job seriously. TD is a security guard; he waved me to a stop as I drove riverside along the James. It was the first day of spring and I had the window of the Scion down; enjoying the fresh air and sunshine; waving at the joggers and walkers taking advantage of the footbridges leading to islands in the river. “How are you ma’am?” he asked politely. I realized the road had ended; a large brick building stood to my right. “I think my riverside drive is over,” I laughed. “Where am I?” “You are on private property,” TD replied. I asked what business I had reached, but TD answered only “Private. Property.” Dominion was printed on his badge; I pointed out that fact. With a sideways nod of his head, he offered up this response “You 20 tall bldg and carcan look, but I can’t tell.” With a sideways nod of my head, I turned the car and headed back towards the city. I was feeling a little testy by now; first I was unable to find parking near the capitol for a spring-day’s walk around the grounds; now my drive along the river was halted. I stopped in the cobblestoned traffic circle on Tredegar to get a few photos for my collection; I wanted to remember where I was on the first day of spring, 2013; then I crossed the river and headed back to my hotel. But I’m thinking all the way – just what businesses are in those tall buildings overlooking the river? Turns out, six Fortune 500 companies are located in Richmond. And Dominion is one of them.

20 dominion logoDominion Resources (15,500 FT employees is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,500 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline, and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines. They operate one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity, and serve retail energy customers in 15 states. It was their Corporate Headquarters I had reached, there on Tredegar Street. Dominion traces its corporate roots back to the 1790’s; it became Virginia Railway and Power in 1909. Mergers and shifts in focus have brought the company to what it is today; its strategy is to provide electricity, natural gas and related services to customers in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the US, where 40 percent of the nation’s energy is consumed. D closed today at 57.20.

20 bldgs plus treesMeadWestvaco (16,000 FT employees) is the other Fortune 500 company headquartered in downtown Richmond; it’s on South 5th Street. MWV is a global packaging company; they make paperboard, folding and multi-pack cartons, coated covers, dispensers, sprayers, pumps, security packaging, and packaging machinery. They serve the food, beverage, home and garden, personal care, healthcare, consumer electronics, commercial printing, and tobacco industries. But that’s not the half of it; they make specialty chemicals too; activated carbon for the food and beverage markets, vapor absorber systems for air purification in the pulp and paper, oil, and wastewater treatment industries. Also asphalt additives such as emulsifiers and adhesion promoters, dispersants for textile dyes and agricultural spraying, oilfield chemicals, pine chemicals, ink resins for graphic arts manufacturers and automotive carbon for use in fuel vapor emission control systems.

20 mead logo“The brand behind the brands you know” is their code phrase; they have operating facilities in 30 countries and their products are marketed on every continent. It began in 1846 with the founding of Ellis, Chaflin & Company, which later became Mead Paper Company. Piedmont Pulp & Paper was founded in 1888, it later became Westvaco. Innovations during the 50’s included the six-pack bottle carrier at Mead, and the flip-top cigarette package at Westvaco. The specialty chemical business was created in 1964; over the years offices were established in Brazil, India and China. In 2002 Mead and Westvaco merged to form MeadWestvaco, rebranded in 2008 simply as MWV. MWV closed today at 38.00.

20 altria signOther Fortune 500 companies in the Richmond area are CarMax, Owens & Minor, Genworth Financial, and the Altria Group. CarMax (16,460 FT employees), a retailer of used vehicles in the United States, also sells vehicles that do not meet its retail standards to licensed dealers through on-site wholesale auctions, and it sells new vehicles under franchise agreements. KMX closed today at 40.90. Owens & Minor (4,800 FT employees) provides distribution, third-party logistics, and supply-chain management services to healthcare providers and suppliers of medical and surgical products. OMI closed today at 31.92. Genworth Financial (6,300 FT employees) provides insurance, wealth management, investment, and financial solutions in the United States and internationally. GNW closed today at 10.15. Altria Group (9,100 FT employees) manufactures and sells cigarettes, smokeless products, and wine in the United States and internationally. MO closed today at 33.94.

20 cary st blgsThose tall buildings I’ve admired also house other Fortune 500 companies, although they are not headquartered in Richmond. SunTrust Bank is based in Atlanta; Capital One Financial Corporation is based in McLean, Virginia, though it was founded in Richmond. San Francisco-based McKesson, the pharmaceutical giant, has a major presence in Richmond; DuPont has a production facility in South Richmond. UPS Freight has its corporate headquarters in Richmond; so does the farm-supply cooperative Southern States; the 300,000 farmers that own it purchase, manufacture, and process seed, fertilizer, and farm supplies.

20 fed res bankAs for the tallest building of all, it’s the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, part of the nation’s central bank . There are twelve Federal Reserve Districts nationwide; the Fifth District is headquartered in Richmond and serves the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia. The Federal Reserve, as you know, sets monetary policy; there on E Byrd Street they also gather and analyze regional economic data, supervise and regulate financial institutions headquartered in Richmond, process currency, check, and electronic payments for banks, and provide financial services to the US Treasury. Visitors are invited to visit The Fed Experience, an interactive multimedia exhibit, and explore their connection to the economy, the growth of living standards, and the Federal Reserve’s role.

All in all, some pretty serious business, here in Richmond.