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Posted: July 03, 2012

Top 50 Minority-Owned Businesses 2012

Venoco Inc. edges out perennial No. 1 Mike Shaw Automotive

Mike Taylor

The top minority-owned business in Colorado is also one of the state’s top public companies. For now, at least. That’s because while No. 1 Venoco Inc. is publicly traded – it ranked No. 46 in our Top 100 Colorado Public Companies list last month – it’s also minority-owned, as CEO and Denver native Tim Marquez retains 50.3 percent ownership of the Denver-based oil and gas exploration and production company that he co-founded in 1992. (See the complete list.)

And soon the entire company might be back in private hands. Frustrated that the market wasn’t fairly valuing the company, which posted revenues of $328.8 million and net income of $62.3 million last year, Marquez offered in August to buy the company back at $12.50 per share and take the company private. In a special meeting on June 5, shareholders approved the offer, conditional to the securing of financing.

Marquez, a graduate of Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School and Colorado School of Mines, spent 12 years with Unocal (later purchased by Chevron) before leaving to start his own company with his last paycheck of $3,000 and a credit card. He took Venoco public in 2006.

In this year’s ColoradoBiz Top 50 Minority-Owned Companies ranking, Venoco’s 2011 revenues enabled it to edge out perennial No. 1 Mike Shaw Automotive Group, which posted sales of $324 million last year, a 29 percent gain over the previous year.

Another Denver-based auto dealership, Alpine Buick GMC, ranks third with 2011 revenues of $41.5 million.

Venoco’s Marquez and Alpine Buick GMC President and owner Ivette Dominguez are finalists for this year’s ColoradoBiz Minority Businessperson of the Year award along with Nathan Martinez, president and founder of Denver-based contractor NM Industries, which ranks seventh on this year’s Top 50 Minority-Owned Companies list. The winner will be announced July 24 at the annual Diversity in Business Breakfast.

Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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