Growing Strong

Top 50: 11-20

11. Pinnacle Petroleum
Petroleum products, Huntington Beach, CA

Liz McKinley
Began: 1995
Initial Investment: $150,000
2002 sales: $20.9 million
2006 sales: $120 million

Biggest Challenge:
"Proving the company's legitimacy was key. Once you acquire one good flagship account, you are on your way. A supportive banking relationship can provide instant credibility as well."

Best Advice:
"Accounts Receivable management is critical. For that reason, the type of client you pursue is key. Bad debt will kill you in your start-up period. And of course, don't give up! Hard work always pays off!"


12. Cavanagh Services Group
Project management/logistics, Salt Lake City


Susan P. Rice
Began: 2002 Initial
Investment: $210,000
2002 sales: $108,000
2006 sales: $7.2 million

Success Secret:
"Always speak positively and act confidently about yourself and your company. All people, including customers, want to be associated with a positive force."

Biggest Challenge:
"Hitting your first 'valley' after years of 'peaks'! Look for a new niche to balance out the services your company offers. It minimizes the 'peaks' and 'valleys.'"


13. Providus
Legal staffing, Houston


Lisa Moore Turano, Jackie Bebczuk, Beverly Mattocks
Began: 2001
Initial Investment: Did not disclose
2002 sales: $961,000
2006 sales: $20.5 million

Success Secret:
"Challenging the status quo has been one key to our success; if you're not asking clients and employees to do something different and better, you run the risk of being seen as a 'me too.'"

Best Advice:
"Ask yourself, 'Which part of my business creates the most value for my clients?' Then build your core message, investment strategy and operational tools around the highest-value functions in your business. If your people understand their importance to you and to the clients, they'll feel great about why they come to work each day."


14. Outcomes
Health-care data reporting, Charlottesville, VA

Wanda Kochhar, Kelly Monical
Began: 1996
Initial Investment: $60,000
2002 sales: $629,000
2006 sales: $16.1 million

Biggest Challenge:
"Hiring the right people is probably the hardest part, but it has the most impact on your success. Find energetic people with integrity and brains."


15. Pinnacle Technical Resources
IT staffing, Dallas

Nina G. Vaca
Began:
1996
Initial Investment: $300
2002 sales: $4 million
2006 sales: $42 million


16. Constant Contact
Online communications, Waltham, MA

Gail Goodman
Began:
1995
Initial Investment: $37.9 million
2002 sales: $1.9 million
2006 sales: $27.6 million

Best Advice:
"Make sure you know the answers to the following three questions: Who are/will be your customers? What problem will you solve for them? Will they pay enough for you to make money?"

Inspiration:
"In 1999 to 1999, it became very clear that the internet was going to help small business look like big businesses. We wanted to provide them with a new set of tools to help them look professional and give them a way to easily, effectively, and affordably communicate with their customers."

17. EMC Venues
Meeting management, Annapolis, MD

Jody Wallace
Began:
2001
Initial Investment: $450,000
2002 sales: $807,000
2006 sales: $16.6 million

Biggest Challenge:
"Get better before getting bigger. I made the mistake of growing too fast in the beginning, and it was overwhelming for my team and the customers. Focus on delivery and customer service."

Success Secret:
"Passion is key.You must be energized by your own passion and be ready to bring on new ideas and find the solutions to overcome your challenges. I feel lucky that I have found my passion. I enjoy my work every minute of everyday, even when the going gets tough."


18. TransPerfect
Translation services, New York City

Elizabeth Elting, Shirley Shawe
Began:
1992
Initial Investment: $5,000
2002 sales: $28.7 million
2006 sales: $112.8 million

Biggest Challenge:
"Finding, developing and retaining the best talent in the world is an ongoing challenge, but we continually redefine and customize our incentive packages to help accomplish this critical objective."

Inspiration:
"After working at a translation company after college, I recognized a real gap between what clients needed and what was available in the industry. Given the increasing globalization of business, it was clear to my partner and me that there was a huge need for a top-notch language services provider."

19. Trans-Expedite
Freight forwarder, El Paso, TX

Keeli Jernigan
Began:
2001
Initial Investment: $29,000
2002 sales: $878,000
2006 sales: $15 million

Success Secret:
"Remember the saying, 'If you don't know it, hire someone who does.' We would not be where we are today if we did not have such a great staff."

Biggest Challenge:

"We began operation on October first of 2001, right after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most transportation companies were down sizing, due to changes in the industry, but we had nowhere to go but up. Our cash flow was a small family loan.My faith definitely helped me to overcome the challenges of those first few months!"


20. Milagro Packaging
Packaging solutions, Dundee, MI


Dolores Rodriguez
Began: 2001
Initial Investment: Did not disclose
2002 sales: $2 million
2006 sales: $23.4 million

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This article was originally published in the November 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Growing Strong.

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