Here at Entrepreneur, we're constantly on the lookout for the hottest new entrepreneurs. Seven years ago, we decided to formalize our search, launching our Annual Hot 100 listing.
With the help of Dun & Bradstreet, the world's leading provider of business information, we spotlight the nation's fastest-growing new entrepreneurial companies each and every year.
So what's new this year? What trends can be spotted in our 7th Annual Hot 100? Despite the much-vaunted dotcom shakeout, technology businesses finished stronger than ever before, with 36 of our 100 finalists in that category, and five of those are Web-based-more than in any previous year. In addition, one company in e-learning, an industry whose potential we've long touted, made the list for the first time.
If there's any doubt in your mind that homes-buying, selling and improving them-are hot, our list will eliminate it. Twenty-four of our Hot 100 companies are involved in construction or residential or commercial interiors. And, for the first time, two real estate companies made our list.
Where there's give, there's take, though. While technology and construction are soaring, fewer general manufacturing companies made our Hot list than in years past.
All told, our 100 finalists generated total sales of $935.4 million last year. How did they do it-and how does your business measure up? To find out, we provide a closer look at two of our finalists, along with a complete listing of all 100. Congratulations, all.
Winspec West Manufacturing Inc.
Marco Fuxa, Martin Hofer and Joachim Nemeth
Call it modesty or humility. The folks at Winspec West Manufacturing Inc., a computer memory manufacturer and international distributor of computer hardware-aka No. 1 in this year's Hot 100 race-aren't too big for their britches. How's that possible when a company that's only been around since 1999 expects 2001 sales of $40 million? Frankly, with only six full-time employees, there's little time for back-patting.
They established Winspec in laid-back Walnut, California, but co-
owners Marco Fuxa, 37, Martin Hofer, 34, and Joachim Nemeth, 31-former corporate co-workers in New York City-have retained a big-city work mentality. "Although it seems very Southern California, when we do something, it's never maybe or ma�FDana," says Hofer, who works out of the company's Walnut headquarters, while Fuxa and Nemeth oversee operations in New York City. "It's got to be done right away, and if not, then forget about it." That also means doing things right the first time. Of the 2,000 shipments distributed annually, 99.9 percent are shipped complaint-free. And because 40 to 45 percent of revenue is generated from buying or selling in international markets, the company requires that native speakers deal with those accounts to better serve them.
The owners credit their employees for getting Winspec to its present market position. And with Fuxa hailing from Italy and Hofer and Nemeth from Germany, implementing a benefits package European-style (99 percent paid medical and dental coverage, generous vacation days and no questions asked regarding days off) isn't a perk-it's standard. In hindsight, Hofer feels they could've hired more people sooner, but quality ruled over quantity. For instance, regarding their hiring of their first secretary, Hofer says, "We could've hired somebody to staple for $20,000 a year or hired somebody who has a higher potential. So [for a steeper salary] we hired somebody with an MBA in finance." Seeing as that secretary's now acting CFO, it paid off.
Thanks to careful customer screening, the troubled U.S. economy hasn't negatively affected Winspec. But the threat of a ripple effect hurting markets in Europe and the Far East, where the company does significant business, is worrying. Still, Hofer contends business must forge ahead. "The current market shouldn't be an excuse for sitting tight and not starting a company if you have the potential," he says. "Best case, you'll be [at the forefront] when the market bounces back. Worst case, you survive."
-By Michelle Prather
Furnished With Profits
Workplace Interiors LLC
Robert Blomstrom and Brooke Jones-Blomstrom
It's one thing to create a business's physical workspace, which Workplace Interiors LLC does very well. It's quite another to build the internal character of a business, and that's where it excels. Workplace Interiors, a full-service office furniture dealership founded by husband-and-wife team Robert Blomstrom and Brooke Jones-Blomstrom, has achieved the 11th spot on the 2001 Hot 100 listing with its fast growth and stunning success. Founded in 1999, Workplace Interiors has grown from first-year sales of $3.7 million to 2000 sales of $21 million, with 2001 projections hovering around the $35 million area.
To what do the Blomstroms attribute their success? Is it their ability to combine creative and technical thinking? It might be their uncommon office environment, where their 37 employees enjoy flextime, profit-sharing and lots of support. Or it may be the strong family atmosphere, with Robert's sister, Sally Blomstrom, joining her brother and sister-in-law in the running of the company. The real secret: "We have fabulous people," says Sally, 43. "Our organization is the people."
The company's devotion to human resources allows it to thrive in a fiercely competitive industry, according to Robert, 44. "Our industry is one where a 12- to 14-hour day is the rule, not the exception," he says. Having a bright, focused staff at Workplace Interiors means everybody works shorter hours while getting a lot more done-allowing them to enjoy more nonwork-related time.
The fact that the principals are related and so in sync with each other helps set the bar for efficiency. According to Brooke, 39, their roles are always changing depending on the situation-one zigs where the other zags.
That kind of flexibility is vital to Workplace Interiors. With a headquarters in Irvine, California, and branches in Los Angeles; Solana Beach, California; and Ventura, California, multitasking isn't the exception-it's the rule.
-By Nichole L. Torres
Making The Cut
This is how it all begins: Culling from its massive database, Dun & Bradstreet provides Entrepreneur with an initial list of fast-growing companies. Entrepreneur mails each company a form, which the entrepreneurs must complete and submit along with current financial statements. We then measure the company's sales growth from the date of inception, listing the businesses in growth order.
In order for a business to be considered, it must meet the following criteria:
- Founder is actively involved in daily operations and controls at least 51 percent of the business.
- Business was founded no earlier than 1998.
- Annual sales for 2000 exceeded $1 million.
- Company meets the SBA's definition of a small business, based on the company's number of employees and sales figures. These numbers will vary according to the particular industry.
To be considered for our Hot 100 list next year, your company must be registered with D&B with current information on file.
Dun & Bradstreet research is conducted by the Dun & Bradstreet Analytical Services Group; Entrepreneur research is conducted by Zoy Parkinson Smith and Marina Brown.
About Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet, the world's leading provider of business information, has been enabling B2B commerce for nearly 160 years. With its database of 62 million companies worldwide-12 million active businesses in the United States alone-D&B's information and technology solutions help businesses reduce credit risk, find profitable customers and manage vendors efficiently. Businesses also use D&B information and technology to authenticate and verify potential trading partners online.
Through telephone interviews as well as public record searches and trade reporting, more than 300 million financial transactions are added annually to D&B's files in the United States alone. D&B updates its information base continually-an average of 1 million times each business day.
When businesses are entered in the D&B database, they are issued D-U-N-S� numbers (similar to Social Security numbers for companies). The U.S. government requires companies to have this number to bid on government contracts. Also used by the United Nations and the European Union, D-U-N-S numbers are quickly becoming the universal standard for identifying businesses on the Web.
For information, call (800) 234-3867 or visit www.dnb.com . To register for a D-U-N-S number, call (800) 333-0505.
Winspec West Manufacturing Inc.
20160 Paseo Del Prado, Walnut, CA 91789, (909) 595-0601