In The Lead: Top 50 / Pittsburgh region's top private companies based on revenue

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The newest leader of Pittsburgh's private companies has a familiar taste.

But, then really, it's not new at all.

The H.J. Heinz Co., which was sold last year to an investment partnership between Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for more than $28 billion, is now the highest grossing private company in the Pittsburgh area after collecting $11.5 billion in revenue in its fiscal year ending April 2013, the most recent available data.

As a public company, Heinz was one of the 25 largest with a significant presence in Western Pennsylvania. The ketchup maker was founded in Sharpsburg in 1869 by Henry John Heinz, for whom the company is named.

Top private companies by revenue
(Click image for larger version)

In addition to Heinz, a handful of other companies left the public sphere this year and now rank prominently among local private companies.

Cranberry teen clothing retailer rue 21, which sold itself to Apax for $1.1 billion, is now one of the region's 10 largest private companies after earning $935 million in revenue in 2013. Michael Baker International LLC, an engineering and consulting firm based in Moon, earned $593 million in revenue. The company was acquired by Integrated Mission Solutions for $397 million last year.

As for the returning private companies, 2013 was a pretty good year.

84 Lumber Co. led the way after building back up its revenue. The company added $502 million in sales to boost its revenue to $2.14 billion. Hit hard by the decline in new home development during the recession, the Washington County building material supplies company saw its revenue drop from $3.92 billion in 2006 to $1.62 billion in 2012. Most of 84 Lumber's business is generated by new home construction.

It wasn't the only company to benefit from an uptick in the housing market, as O'Hara-based Hanna Holdings, which operates Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, posted an increase of $76 million to $348 million.

Local car dealerships continued to drive up sales.

#1 Cochran, the region's largest dealership group, increased its revenue from $495.4 million in 2012 to $536 million in 2013. Kenny Ross jumped from $449.5 million in sales to $502 million, and Day Automotive increased its revenue from $365.9 million to $369.1 million. All three companies had posted gains in 2012, as well.

Two other companies that experienced large growth were American Bridge, a Coraopolis-based civil engineering firm that added $178 million in revenue to total $592.7 million in 2013, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, which, according to a Forbes estimate, finished 2013 with $204 million in revenue, up from $168 million, and a trip to the postseason.

With the addition of Heinz, the region now has eight private companies that generate more than $1 billion in revenue. O'Hara grocer Giant Eagle, formerly the area's largest private company, duplicated its 2012 revenue by earning $9.9 billion in 2013.

— Michael Sanserino: , 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino.

First Published May 13, 2014 11:10 AM

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