THEN: 1994 Sales: $2.4 million
Brett Kingstone doesn't take business lightly. In 1994, his fiber-optic light and cable manufacturing company was doing $2.4 million in sales--but Kingstone still didn't consider it a shining success. Why? He knew Orlando, Florida-based Super Vision International could do much more.
Fiber-optic lighting offers so many advantages over neon (for starters, it uses less than one-third the electricity, and it's unbreakable), Kingstone felt confident it would continue to steal market share from neon, eventually edging it out of the spotlight. Even though his company's fiber-optic Coke bottle sign in New York City's Times Square was the world's largest, the entrepreneur was sure he could take his business to even greater heights.
NOW: 1996 Sales: $6.8 million
In March 1996, Super Vision broke its own record. The company designed the gargantuan AT&T sign, also in Times Square, which is almost twice the size of the Coca-Cola sign. If you placed all the fiber used in the AT&T sign end to end, it would reach more than halfway from Times Square to Orlando. "We outdid ourselves," Kingstone says proudly.
Meanwhile, the 37-year-old entrepreneur keeps setting his sights higher. Although Super Vision's annual sales have more than tripled in just over two years, "we don't consider that a major jump in sales," Kingstone says. "Approximately $30 billion worth of neon is sold worldwide, so if we were to get 10 percent of the world market, that's $3 billion in sales!"
Not that Kingstone will view Super Vision as inferior until then. He simply has loftier goals for his company. "A lot of people ask me, `When will you say you're a success?' " he says. "On the sales side, it's when our sales become a certain percentage of the overall neon market; on the earnings side, it's when every employee in this company--including the receptionist and the people on the production line can pay off their mortgages and put their kids through college."