This story is about China.
It seems almost every manufacturing story is, in some way.
Despite the slowing expansion of China's economy, from the 13% annual averages seen since the 1990s to the 7.5% norms of today, despite the anecdotal stories about reshoring, China maintains a formidable presence in the global manufacturing tale.
For the first time, a Chinese company is the world's largest, according to the 2014 IndustryWeek 1000, the annual ranking of the world's largest manufacturers by revenue.
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (IW 1000/1) -- Sinopec -- edged out its British and American rivals, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (IW 1000/2) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (IW 1000/3), with its 2013 revenue of $472 billion, generating $12 billion and $48 billion more than its competitors, respectively.
The Chinese oil behemoth has more than doubled its revenue stream in the past five years, catapulting it into the No. 1 spot this year, leapfrogging from the No. 3 position it has held for the past two years.
It's the first time in 11 years that Exxon and Shell haven't topped the list. Back in those days, Sinopec was No. 38 on the IW 1000. Sinopec, which upped its revenue 3.4% from the previous year, was the only one of the top three companies to grow in 2013.
But China's dominance doesn't end with Sinopec, even if the oil and gas company represents 32% of the $1.5 trillion in revenue generated by the 61 China-based companies on the list.
Chinese manufacturers as a whole, aided by the nine China-based newcomers on the list, ranked only below manufacturing powerhouses the United States and Japan. And those Chinese companies averaged a 7.0% annual increase in earnings.
It's Oil's Game
Oil and coal companies remained the titans of the IW 1000, securing seven of the top 10 spots and achieving an average revenue gain of 5.4%.
The 137 companies in the sector generated $6.6 trillion in revenue, or 31% of the revenue of the world's top 1,000 manufacturers.
Companies like U.S.-based Energy Transfer Partners LP (IW 1000/96) led the sector, skyrocketing from No. 294 on the list to No. 96 after generating 195% growth in revenue.
Eight new companies joined the list, generating $37.6 billion in revenue alone. U.S.-based CVR Refining LP (IW 1000/499) topped the newcomers, sliding into the No. 499 spot on the list with $8.7 billion in revenue.
Other Industries Playing the Game
The most represented sectors on the list were chemicals, computers and other electronic products, and primary metals, which had 95, 92 and 73 companies, respectively.
In the chemicals market, Germany-based BASF (IW 1000/36) led the pack with $104 billion in revenue, despite falling four spots on the annual list and seeing revenue contract 6% in 2013.
The sector as a whole generated $1.4 trillion in 2013 and experienced revenue growth of 4.8%.
In the computers and other electronics sector, Samsung Electronics Co. (IW 1000/12) had the best showing, climbing two spots on the list and recording revenue of $216.7 billion -- a 13.7% gain from the previous year. Samsung, which doubled its tablet sales in 2013, soared on all fronts, achieving 27.8% growth in profits and an 11.2% profit margin.
Samsung once again beat out U.S. competitor Apple (IW 1000/15), which has been steadily climbing the ranks of the top 1000 list, by $45.7 billion in 2013. Apple had revenue of $171 billion.
For the world's primary metals companies, Glencore PLC (IW 1000/10), based in Great Britain, showed the most promise. The commodity trading and mining company generated $232.7 billion in revenue, marking an 8.5% growth in revenue from the year before.
Glencore, which held its initial public offering in 2011, moved up one position on the IW 1000, after making its debut at the No. 11 spot on the 2013 list.