10 Women-Owned Companies You Should Know

Women may still represent a minority of business owners in America, but they are growing in influence. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, women-owned firms generated roughly $1.8 trillion in sales and employed more than 10.1 million workers in 2018, the last year for which data is available.

While many of those women ran relatively small businesses—10.6 million operated non-employer firms in 2017—women are also in the corner office at hundreds of multimillion-dollar enterprises. Oprah Winfrey may be America’s (if not the world’s) most famous woman business owner, but she’s not the only one. From sports teams to restaurant chains, here are just some of the largest companies in which women have at least a 50% ownership stake.

Key Takeaways

  • Women-owned businesses make up about 20% of all employer businesses, and that share has been ticking slightly upward in recent years.
  • Examples of prominent women-owned businesses include Panda Restaurant Group, the umbrella corporation that operates the Panda Express chain, and The Wonderful Co., which sells a variety of food and beverage brands.
  • The popular restaurant chain conglomerate Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Express, was co-founded by Peggy Cherng with her husband, Andrew Cherng.

The Wonderful Co.

  • Owners: Lynda and Stewart Resnick
  • Estimated annual revenue: $5.0 billion (2020)

Leaving her successful advertising career behind, Lynda Resnick and her husband, Stewart, decided to buy farmland in California and sell their own agricultural products. They gradually expanded their lineup of brands to include the likes of Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Halos, POM Wonderful, and FIJI Water. As co-owner of the company, which has an estimated $5 billion in annual revenue, Lynda leads its worldwide marketing and product development.

Panda Restaurant Group

  • Owners: Peggy and Andrew Cherng
  • Estimated annual revenue: $3.76 billion (2020)

The remarkable growth of the Asian food chains Panda Express, Panda Inn, and Hibachi-San is the result of the husband-and-wife team of Peggy and Andrew Cherng. Both share the titles of co-chair and co-chief executive officer (CEO), with Peggy, a former engineering student, primarily leading the development of logistical systems, according to the company’s website. She was also pivotal in launching the company’s training program, University of Panda.

ActOne Group Inc.

  • Owner: Janice Bryant Howroyd
  • Estimated annual revenue: $2.3 billion (2020)

Janice Bryant Howroyd created her human resource management company in 1978 with just $1,500 to her name—and that included a $900 loan from her mom. What she has managed to do with the meager investment over the past four decades is stunning. ActOne Group now serves more than 17,000 clients in 19 countries and brings in annual receipts of about $2.3 billion, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal.

ASI Computer Technologies Inc.

  • Owner: Christine Liang
  • Estimated annual revenue: $1.57 billion (2020)

Christine Liang’s initial ambitions were modest enough. Looking for a source of income after moving to the United States from Taiwan in the 1980s, she decided to buy computer components from Asia and resell them to companies in her new country. The $16,000 in savings that she put into the company proved to be a good investment. While Liang keeps a low profile, ASI has since become one of North America’s largest distributors of IT products to value-added resellers, with sales of roughly $1.57 billion in 2020.

America Chung Nam

  • Owners: Cheung Yan (aka Zhang Yin) and Liu Ming Chung
  • Estimated annual revenue: $1.5 billion (2020)

Like many successful companies, the beginnings of America Chung Nam were humble—very humble. In the late 1990s, Cheung Yan and her husband, Liu Ming Chung, would drive around to garbage dumps in their minivan, trying to convince the operators to give them paper scraps that they could recycle and send overseas to China, according to The New York Times. Fast forward a couple of decades, and their scrap paper venture brings in around $1.5 billion a year. The couple, who also operate Nine Dragons Paper, the largest containerboard manufacturer in China, is worth more than $3 billion, according to a Forbes analysis.

MTM Inc.

  • Owner: Alaina Maciá
  • Estimated annual revenue: $675 million (2020)

Peg and Lynn Griswold started MTM in 1995 with the goal of ensuring that people without easy access to transportation would be able to get the medical care they need. Today, the St. Louis–based company, which is now owned and run by their daughter, CEO Alaina Maciá, schedules more than 13 million nonemergency trips every year.

Perry Homes

  • Owner: Kathy Britton
  • Estimated annual revenue: $663 million (2020)

For Kathy Britton, home building isn’t just a way of life—it’s in her blood. When she was still in high school, she worked as a model homes greeter for her father’s company, Houston-based Perry Homes. And when she graduated from law school, her first job was working in the company’s land acquisition department. That background knowledge paid enormous dividends when her dad, Bob Perry, passed away in 2013 and Britton took over as CEO. Since then, the company has expanded into the Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth markets. And it has created a new line of upscale properties called Britton Homes.

Howard Hanna Real Estate Services Inc.

  • Owners: Hanna family
  • Estimated annual revenue: $898 million (2020)

What’s now the largest family-owned real estate broker in the country began as a small startup founded by Howard and Anne Freyvogel Hanna in the 1950s. Decades later, their children—Hoddy Hanna, Helen Hanna Casey, and Annie Hanna Cestra—and grandchildren are continuing to grow the family business. The Pittsburgh-based company operates in a number of states along the East Coast and in the Midwest, generating an estimated $898 million in sales in 2020.

Turtle & Hughes

  • Owners: Jayne Millard and family
  • Estimated annual revenue: $758 million (2020)

Jayne Millard leads the electrical and industry distribution company that her great-grandfather started nearly a century ago. Since taking the helm, Millard—once a marketing consultant for famed choreographer Martha Graham—has overseen remarkable growth at the Linden, N.J.-based firm. When she joined the business in 1999, it had annual revenues of about $90 million; by 2020, it was bringing in more than $758 million, according to a Dun & Bradstreet estimate.

Bennett Family of Companies

  • Owner: Marcia Taylor
  • Estimated annual revenue: $693 million (2020)

What does it take to turn a small, five-truck shipping company into a supply chain juggernaut with around $700 million in annual revenue? For owner and CEO Marcia Taylor, finding new opportunities has always been a key part. Bennett has gradually expanded since its inception in 1974, now offering everything from project logistics to oil field support to cold chain solutions. Taylor has managed to grow the company while keeping a family-friendly culture. In 2021, Bennett was again named a “Top Transportation Company for Women to Work For” by the Women In Trucking Association.

What percentage of U.S. businesses are owned by women?

Women-owned firms comprised 19.9% of all businesses that employed people in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, that number is growing somewhat. There were 0.6% more women-owned businesses in 2018 than in 2017.

Who is the richest self-made woman in the United States?

The wealthiest woman who actually generated the money herself (not through an inheritance) is Diane Hendricks, according to Forbes. The co-founder and chair of ABC Supply, a wholesale distributor of roofing, siding, and windows, is worth about $10.7 billion as of Feb. 26, 2022.

Are any major sports teams owned by women?

Yes. One notable example is Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The NFL alone has four women team owners: Gayle Benson of the New Orleans Saints, Virginia Halas McCaskey of the Chicago Bears, Sheila Ford Hamp of the Detroit Lions, and Amy Adams Strunk of the Tennessee Titans.

The Bottom Line

Women continue to prove that they can successfully lead the largest organizations in the country. From industrial companies to agricultural businesses, many of the top privately held businesses are owned and led by female leaders.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. “Number of Women-Owned Employer Firms Increased 0.6% from 2017 to 2018.”

  2. Los Angeles Business Journal. “Women-Owned Businesses,” Page 1.

  3. The Wonderful Co. “Who We Are.”

  4. The Wonderful Co. “Lynda Resnick.”

  5. Panda Restaurant Group. “Leadership.”

  6. Forbes. “Janice Bryant Howroyd & Family.”

  7. ActOne Group. “About Us.”

  8. Silicon Valley Business Journal. “From Zero to $1.7B: How Silicon Valley’s Biggest Family-Owned Company Was Built.”

  9. San Francisco Business Times. “Largest Women-Owned Businesses in the East Bay.”

  10. America Chung Nam. “Founders & Shareholders.”

  11. The New York Times. “Blazing a Paper Trail in China.”

  12. Forbes. “Liu Ming Chung.”

  13. Forbes. “Zhang Yin.”

  14. MTM. “Leadership.”

  15. St. Louis Business Journal. “St. Louis’ Largest Women-Owned Businesses.”

  16. MTM. “About MTM.”

  17. Houston Business Journal. “2021 Largest Houston-Area Women-Owned Businesses.”

  18. Builder. “Kathy Britton Expands Perry Homes’ Legacy Across Texas.”

  19. Perry Homes. “About Us.”

  20. Britton Homes. “Home Page.”

  21. Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. “About Howard Hanna Real Estate Services.”

  22. Pittsburgh Business Times. “Largest Pittsburgh-Area Women-Owned Firms.”

  23. Turtle & Hughes. “Leadership Team.”

  24. Dun & Bradstreet. “Turtle & Hughes, Inc.

  25. Forbes. “Women on Boards of Family Businesses.”

  26. Bennett Family of Companies. “About Us.”

  27. Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Atlanta’s 20 Largest Women-Owned Firms.”

  28. Women In Trucking Association. “Women In Trucking Association Names 2021 Top Companies for Women to Work for in Transportation.”

  29. Forbes. “Diane Hendricks.”

  30. Los Angeles Business Journal. “Jeanie Buss.”

  31. New Orleans Saints. “Gayle Benson.”

  32. Chicago Bears. “Mrs. McCaskey ‘A Source of Daily Inspiration’.”

  33. Detroit Lions. “Sheila Ford Hamp.”

  34. Tennessee Titans. “Amy Adams Strunk.”

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