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There is no one definitive way for doing business research on a particular company. The approach that you take and the resources that you use will depend on the type and amount of information that you have to start with, as well as the type and amount of information that you wish to end up with.
The Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) can assist you in navigating through this information efficiently and effectively.
- Is the company U.S. or foreign-owned?
- Is the company Private or Public?
- What type of business is it?
- Why am I not finding my company?
The importance of business location when you are trying to find information on a company should not be underestimated since many resources organize their information according to geographical criteria. Coverage in these directories may range from national or regional to multi- or international. As a rule of thumb, the more focused the publication is on one location, the more likely it is that it will include smaller-sized companies in that area.
Unfortunately, the more intricate the organizational structure of the company, the more complex it usually is to uncover details about its individual parts. For example, the company may operate in countries which differ from the place where its headquarters is located. Alternatively, the business could be a multinational or transnational with multiple main offices. Narrowing your search by location will take away much of the guesswork.
(If you answer YES - follow the link to a suggested search strategy)
National directories focus on the companies of an individual country. In general, these individual country directories tend to include more listings for that particular country than do directories of international scope.
To retrieve such directories from the catalog, simply include the country name in your search query, along with such terms as corporations, business enterprises, industries, etc. Browsing the list of worldwide business directory sources (alphabetically organized by country name) will also give you a good idea of what is available onsite at SIBL.
Reference USA (EIC)
Includes addresses and sales information for over 14 million U.S. companies. Very useful for locating smaller businesses as it includes companies of all employee sizes and annual sales ranges.
D & B Million Dollar Directory
(Print - *R-HC102 .D8 or EIC)
Includes 160,000 alphabetically-arranged large ($500,000+ net worth, 250+ employees, or $25,000,000+ sales) public and private companies.
Regional or local directories have a more limited geographical scope, focusing on the state, city, county levels, etc. These directories are often very useful for finding information on small businesses and single location companies.
D & B regional Business Directory. New York Metropolitan Area.
(B. Altman Reference Desk; *R-HG4058.N56.D86)
New York Metro Area companies listed alphabetically and by industry SIC code.
International directories are useful, particularly if you are not certain about which country the company operates in. Moreover, the company you are searching for may be a multi-national or trans-national business with operations around the globe.
D&B Principal International Businesses
(B. Altman Reference Desk; *R-HF54.U5P74)
~50,000 public and private companies from ~145 countries are listed in this Dun and Bradstreet directory, organized geographically.
America's Corporate Families and International Affiliates
Another Dun and Bradstreet directory covering both private and public companies worth over $500,000, 250+ employees, $25 million+ sales, and 2+ locations. Over 10,000 parent US companies and over 76,000 subsidiaries, divisions, and branches are included.
Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries
(B. Altman Reference Desk;*R-HF4538.A1 D5)
Includes information on 18,000+ affiliates and subsidiaries globally.
Europages, the European Business Directory
Contains information on 500,000 companies, from 30 European countries, from all activity sectors. Includes: company address, telephone, fax and e-mail, details on the company's products.
Teldir.com :Telephone Directories on the Web
This is the Internet's original and most complete index of online phone books, with links to Yellow Pages, White Pages, Business Directories, Email Addresses and Fax Listings from over 150 countries all around the world.
Publicly-held companies (i.e. companies which sell stock to the general public) are required to disclose certain financial information to their shareholders and to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For this reason, it is often much easier to locate information on these companies than on privately held (or closely held) companies.
Some directories may include information on public companies, some both public and private companies, and a few may deal only with private companies. Whichever the case may be, knowing which type of company you are looking for will help you to avoid needlessly searching in inappropriate sources.
(If you answer YES - follow the link to a suggested search strategy)
A private or privately-held company is one that is not raising capital by selling stock to the public. Only the founders, employees, and possibly a few large investors (venture capitalists) may own interest. Consequently no disclosure of information is required of the company according to Federal Securities Laws. Whatever information a private company makes available is completely up to the individual company.
Reference USA (EIC)
Includes addresses and sales information for over 14 million U.S. companies. Very useful for locating smaller businesses (which tend to also be private) as it includes companies of all employee sizes and annual sales ranges.
Hoover's Handbook of Private Companies
(Company/Industry Section - *R-HG4057.A28616)
Short company profiles of the largest US private companies are arranged alphabetically.
A public or publicly-held company is one that has shares outstanding that are available to be bought and sold by individual investors from the public. Selling of these securities is done via trading on the U.S. stock exchanges which identify a security for trading purposes based on a unique letter ID called a ticker symbol.
"Going public" carries several burdens for a company that was previously operating privately, the most important of which is the burden of disclosure of information.Luckily for researchers, this requirement to file detailed reports of the company with the Securities Exchange Comission (SEC) results in the availability of much data to the general public.
Locate company financial information including SEC filings, tear sheets, and earnings estimates about U.S. and international companies.
Wall Street Research Net
Wall Street Research Net has over 500,000 links to company information and 2,000 company home pages.
Wright Research Center
Detailed analysis on over 18,000 companies worldwide. Categorizes the companies by country and by industry sector.
Most, although not all, of these are publicly listed, US companies.
A company that is making the transition from a privately held company to a publicly held one does so by issuing an Initial Public Offering of stock and is referred to as an IPO company. Tracking these companies is often tricky as they have not yet had the opportunity to establish a paper trail.
Generally, the type of business that the company is involved in determines the kinds of directories in which the company gets itself listed. As most business enterprises wish to be easily reached by their major customer pool, it makes "good business sense" to target directories that will most likely be used by the people in their field of business.
Such directories are valuable because they are generally created to cater to the needs of people in that particular industry and organized in ways that they find useful. For example, a manufacturers' directory may be searchable by product name or brand name, while a directory of advertisers may have a client index.
- In which industry is your company?
- In which activity sector is your company?
- Is it a minority or women-owned business?
- Is it a "top-ranked" company?
- Is it a non-profit organization?
(Answer these questions and then follow the links to suggested search strategies)
If you know which industry the company is a part of, you may decide to use a directory which is more focused on that particular industry sector.
Industry sectors are more or less well-defined areas of the economy. Although the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is replacing the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system, the categories have not changed too drastically.
It is a good idea to keep these industry classes in mind when looking for company information. For additional guidance, use SIBL's list of industry-specific directories which organizes selected resources by subject. Some sample sources are as follows:
A company's involvement with a particular market or product may occur at any of the various levels of busines activity. The company may be a producer or manufacturer, supplier or wholesaler, retailer or service provider, etc.
Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
(Available for free at thomasnet.com)
D & B Directory of Service Companies
50,000+ US private and public companies listed alphabetically, geographically, and by SIC code. Includes everything from accounting firms to advertising, architecture, engineering, law, etc.
American Wholesalers and Distributors Directory
(B. Altman Reference Desk; *R-SIBL HF5421.G343 or
Gale Directory Library (EIC)
Covers more than 26,500 wholesalers and distributors of consumer products in the U.S. Classified by subject, then alphabetical by company name. Indexed by SIC, geographical, alphabetical.
If you know that your company is a minority or women-owned business enterprise, chances are that it is also small. It may be a good idea to look in directories dedicated solely to these types of companies.
National Directory of Women-Owned Business Firms
This directory is organized numerically according to business type, using the 4-digit SIC codes. Specific company names can be located by using the alphabetically-arranged Company Index at the back of the volume.
The criteria for inclusion of some of the more popular general directories are the net worth of the company, annual revenue, the number of employees, or worse yet, paying as if for advertising. Not surprisingly, smaller-sized companies or less established companies are often excluded from these resources if they fail to make the cut.
Having an idea of the company's rank could therefore save you a lot of research time since it will allow you to better judge which directories are the most likely to contain the information you need. Consult the following business sources which compile and rank company data:
Hoover's Handbook of Emerging Companies
(Company/Industry Section; *R-SIBL HF5035 .E43)
Covers 500 companies thought by Hoover's editors as having demonstrated growth and the potential for future gains based on sales growth. Includes a compendium of lists (best small companies, fastest-growing companies, etc.)
When searching for a company, you should keep in mind that a "business" may be operating for profit or not. As some directories may differentiate between the two, you may have less trouble tracking a company that is not operating for a profit by checking sources that are focused on this type of organization.
GuideStar: Non-Profit Organization Finder
GuideStar is a searchable database of more than 620,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States.
The Foundation Center Library
79 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10003 Tel: (212) 620-4230
The Center's mission is to foster public understanding of the foundation field by collecting, organizing, analyzing, and disseminating information on foundations, corporate giving, and related subjects.
Particularly with smaller, privately-owned companies, it is often difficult to obtain contact information via traditional directory listings. In the case that you do not find your company in directories organized by geographical area, ownership, company size, or business type, you will have to begin to troubleshoot and attempt to find an alternative route to the information.
For example, it may be that the company is too new or simply not seeking much publicity for whatever reason and so cannot be found. In this situation, you will have to accept that you will need to take a more creative approach to finding the information you need. Following are some jumping-off questions that may be helpful for you to ask.
- What is the company's full name?
- What are the company's corporate affiliations?
- Who are the company's directors and officers?
- Is the company still in business?
- Of which trade associations is the company a member?
(Follow the links to suggested search strategies for answering these questions.)
Often, it is not because there is no information available on the company that you cannot find any trace of it. More than likely, there is merely some uncertainty about the correct spelling or form of the name under which the organization is doing business.
For example, you may run into problems when searching for company names that exist as acronyms or that include any of the following: and, &, Co., Inc., Ltd., etc. It is also possible that the company name is a foreign one that has been anglicized in a less than intuitive way.
Alternatively, you may have to figure out which company is behind a particular website, patent, trademark, or brandname because the name familiar to you may not be the company's official business name. The following resources will help you do some of the "detective work" that may be required of you.
Brands and Their Companies / Companies and Their Brands
(*R-T223 .V4A25 / *R-T223 .V4A253) or Gale Directory Library (EIC)
Useful if you know the name of a product the company is responsible for but are not sure of the company's exact name. Covers trade names (product name, trademark, brand names, etc.) and companies (alphabetically arranged separately) which either manufacture products, distribute them (including import/export), or market them.
Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS)
The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) offers Web access to bibliographic and full-text databases. Great for tracking companies whose product or service is trademarked and known to you but whose official company name escapes you. The registered trademark is not necessarily the name that the company uses to "do business", particularly if the company has more than one product.
This site is useful for obtaining information about or related to a domain name registration record. A domain name is a way to identify and locate computers and resources connected to the Internet. No two organizations can have the same domain name, so if the business has a website registered, you will uncover the company responsible for it.
Another reason the company may be evading you is that all of the information appears under its parent/sister or subsidiary company--and not itself. Since the quality of indexing does vary from publication to publication, it may simply be that the directory you have been using lists all details on the company under the entry for the holding company or larger corporate family of which it is a part or is connected to. Use the following titles to help you unravel the business links and organizational ties.
America's Corporate Families and International Affiliates
Another Dun and Bradstreet directory covering both private and public companies worth over $500,000, 250+ employees, $25 million+ sales, and 2+ locations. Over 10,000 parent US companies and over 76,000 subsidiaries/divisions/branches are included.
Seeking information about a company that a particular person works for but for which you do not know the name can be difficult using general directories. Most do not necessarily index the names of chief officers or products even though this is often the only clues that researchers have to work with.
Luckily, there are directories dedicated specifically to providing this type of information. Deciding on which of these to use will be easier if you are aware of the type of organizational structure that the company operates under (ie. if there is a single owner or the types of managing executives).
Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors, and Executives, in Standard & Poor's NetAdvantage (EIC)
Vol. 1 includes entries for 55,000+ public and private US companies. Vol. 2 contains biographies of directors and executives. Geographical, SIC classification, and Corporate family group indexes available.
D&B million dollar directory : America's leading public & private companies
(Company/Industry Section; *R-HC102.D8 or EIC)
Great for finding information about a specific company or companies with similar attributes. Contains over 1,300,000 U.S. leading public and private business records which can be searched for executives by name, company, title and/or biography.
Index to Marquis Who's Who publications
(B. Altman Reference Desk; *R-Z5301 .M37a .CT104)
Index which allows you to search by the name of the executive's name in order to find out which Marquis publication has a biographical profile on that person. Profiles usually include career histories where company names will appear.
Although you should not jump to this conclusion too early in your research, there is always a possibility that the company you are looking for has ceased to exist or has undergone some organizational changes. Consequently, it may no longer be doing business under its former name. If the resources you are using are fairly recent they may now only list the company under the new name.
Instead, you should turn to resources that will let you determine if the company has disappeared due to business failure, whether they have undergone corporate change activities such as a merger, an acquisition, leveraged buyout, or consolidation, etc., or if the company has been involved in bankruptcy or liquidation. Try some of the following sources:
Capital Changes Reporter in CCH OmniTax Library (EIC)
For public companies, provides a chronological list of dividends, stock splits, name changes, mergers, acquisitions, and other changes in corporate capital and debt structure.
Troubled Company Reporter
Daily electronic newsletters distributed to paying subscribers. However, this archive includes (for free) newsletters which are now older than 90 days.
Standard & Poor's Register of Corporation in Standard and Poor's NetAdvantage (EIC)
Standard & Poor's corporation descriptions companies. The electronic version includes Bond Guide, Corporation Records, Dividend Record, Earnings Guide, Industry Surveys, Mutual Fund Reports, The Outlook, Standard & Poor's Register, Stock Guide, and Standard & Poor's Stock Reports.
Company Histories (or International Directory of Company Histories) - Database: Business Insights Essentials (EIC)
(Company/Industry Section; *R-Econ. HD2721 .I58 1988)
Provides detailed information on the historical development of the world's largest and most influential public, private and state-controlled companies.
Smaller or privately-owned companies depend heavily on trade associations for help in looking after and promoting their industry's interests. Consequently, these associations are a wealth of information as they collect a great deal of information on their member companies. This information is usually made available via association websites and publications since marketing is an important role of these groups.
Using the directories of associations suggested below, you can identify the trade associations that the company may be a member of and obtain company contact information through these organizations. (Do note that some of the information put out by associations may be restricted to their members only).
Encyclopedia of Associations in Gale Directory Library (EIC)
This Gale Research, Inc. publication contains information on ~87,000 associations across the globe, including contact information and their publications.
National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States.
(B. Altman Reference Desk; *R-HD2425 .D53)
Alphabetically-arranged directory of ~76,000 trade & professional associations, including labor unions. Can look up names in the Indexed by acronym, by subject, and by geography, among other things.
Directory of Associations Online
(Gateway to Associations Online)
This website directory service is provided by the American Society of Association Executives. The Gateway can be searched by keyword that the Association name contains or by the business category/keyword provided in a drop-down menu.
revised and updated 3-2013 KJ