Growing Strong

Top 50: 31-40

31. Perfect Power
Solar electric design/installation, Phoenix

Lynn Paige
Began: 1998
Initial Investment:
$10,000
2002 sales: $62,000
2006 sales: $3.1 million

Biggest Challenge:
"Our biggest challenge is making sure our team sees the goal as we grow and change in an industry that changes every day."

Success Secret:
"Have an end goal in mind everyday, with every project."


32. Apex Facility Resources
Facility services, Seattle

Marlaine McCauley
Began:
1997
Initial Investment: $500
2002 sales: $558,000
2006 sales: $9.5 million

Biggest Challenge:
"The idea that you need a college degree to be successful at business [was my biggest challenge]. I overcame it by reminding myself that I was smart and could learn through hard knocks."

Success Secret:
"[Our key to success is] listening to what our customers need, and not being afraid to provide them with a solution even if it is outside our core competency."


33. Business Integra
IT consulting/engineering, Greenbelt, MD

Prathiba Ramadoss
Began: 2001
Initial Investment: $2,000
2002 sales: $149,000
2006 sales: $4.8 million

Best Advice:
"Be fair to your customers and employees, and in turn they will be fair to you."

Biggest Challenge:
"Breaking into a highly competitive market with practically no contacts [was my biggest challenge]. Business Integra started with one consultant and one customer and has grown to a $5 million company."


34. Saicon Consultants
IT consulting, Overland Park, KS

Swati Yelmar
Began:
1998
Initial Investment: $2,000
2002 sales: $1 million
2006 sales: $12.6 million

Inspiration :
"Being a woman, a minority and a foreigner in a male-dominated field was a triple threat. With lots of hard work, I overcame these challenges and have [grown] my company to 166 employees."

Best Advice:
"Give your whole commitment to your business, no matter how many obstacles come your way in your professional or personal life."


35. Atlas Travel International
Travel agency, Milford, MA

Elaine Osgood
Began: 1986
Initial Investment: $65,000
2002 sales: $30 million
2006 sales: $95 million

Inspiration:
"As a social worker, I helped many children, but dealing with trauma day after day was wearing on me. I decided to use my skills to build a business that helps people, but in a different way."

Success Secret:
"Hire the very best. The talented professionals on my team are responsible for the success of the company. I learned a long time ago that the company would not be able to sustain our growth unless we had 'superstars in game breaker positions.'"


36. Fraser Communications
Advertising/PR Santa Monica, CA


Renee Fraser
Began: 1998
Initial Investment: $100,000
2002 sales: $6 million
2006 sales: $32.7 million

Best Advice:
"Reach high: Go for larger orders. If you've been successful after two years, you've beaten the odds and are damn good at what you do. Don't limit your opportunities."

Inspiration:
"Fraser Communications started as a dream. After being president of a large division of an ad agency, I saw a better way to satisfy clients and cultivate creativity throughout the organization. By bringing together senior professionals from media, creative, research, promotions and account services, we could deliver super value to clients."

37. Delta Solutions & Strategies LLC
Defense contractor, Colorado Springs, CO

Kelly Roth
Began: 2000
Initial Investment: $100,000
2002 sales: $418,000
2006 sales: $7.3 million

Biggest Challenge:
"My biggest challenge was obtaining financial support from large banks. By working with a locally owned bank on a smaller scale, I was able to obtain the financing I needed."

Inspiration:
"I started this company because I had participated in start-ups in my past and felt confident that I could do it on my own. I saw a good business opportunity in defense contracting, as Colorado Springs is home to several military institutions."


38. BrightStar Healthcare LLC
Health-care staffing, Gurnee, IL


Shelly Sun
Began:
2002
Initial Investment: $100,000
2002 sales: $112,000
2006 sales: $3.5 million

Best Advice:
"Surround yourself with great advisors. Do not hesitate to ask the best of the best. The worst they can say is no."

Inspiration :
"I started BrightStar Healthcare after the real-life struggle that my husband and I faced to find reliable care for his late Grandma Pat while she was battling cancer. This motivated me to develop a healthcare staffing business to provide reliable, trustworthy and compassionate care to all in need."


39. Energon
Natural gas supplier, Chicago


Mary Skipton
Began: 1992
Initial Investment: $200,000
2002 sales: $27.4 million
2006 sales: $80.9 million

Success Secret:
"I build solid relationships with employees, suppliers, utilities, and most important, customers. If I didn't have good relationships with all four, my business would not be as successful as it is."

Best Advice:
"Manage by the numbers. It doesn't make any difference what type of business you're in, how big or small it is, or whether you have employees or you're on your own. Manage by the numbers."


40. Ideal System Solutions
IT solutions Maple Grove, MN

Elise Hernandez
Began: 1996
Initial Investment: $1,000
2002 sales: $6.5 million
2006 sales: $31 million

Best Advice:
"Do your research and plan every aspect of how your business will operate. Once that plan is formulated, don't be afraid to make changes to accommodate growth or the unforeseen."

Biggest Challenge:
"Historically, technology has been a male-dominated field. I had to make sure that I was well-versed in all areas of technology to be taken seriously."
 

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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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