These women-led businesses are speeding their way to the top.
Women today continue to push to the forefront of small business. So for the second year, Entrepreneur and the Women Presidents' Organization set out to find north america's 50 fastest-growing women-led companies. Topping the list is one woman holding her own in a male-dominated field.
Heidi Smith Price might speak in a soft voice, but she's definitely loud enough to be heard. In fact, at only 29 years old, she has established a notable presence in a male-dominated industry. "You hardly see any women in the construction industry, much less the industrial industry," says Smith Price, who has grown her heavy industrial contractor business, Spartan Constructors LLC, from a mere $100,000 in revenue in 2003 to a projected $150 million this year--landing her securely at the top of this year's list of the 50 fastest-growing women-led companies.
In 2004, Smith Price bought majority partnership in the Sugar Hill, Georgia-based business and was up for the challenges that it presented--namely earning respect from her peers. "You just have to stand your ground and not let other people walk all over you," says Smith Price, who has focused instead on the opportunities that she knew lay beneath the surface. She immediately certified her company as a Women's Business Enterprise and was thereby able to open up her business to major contracting opportunities. This simple decision has enabled her to enjoy substantial growth over the past four years--at a rate faster than even she thought possible.
And while many might find the turf unfamiliar, it's been Smith Price's stomping ground ever since she was a young girl learning the ins and outs of her father's construction company. That experience as his executive assistant prepared Smith Price well for her role today, which requires that she wear many hats to get the job done. This level of competency, coupled with high standards for quality control and attention to safety, has won over major clients like Georgia Power and Southern Co.
The rate at which Smith Price has grown her business is exceptional, but her success is not unusual. The Women Presidents' Organization, the nonprofit peer advisory organization for multimillion-dollar women-led and women-owned businesses, estimates that 41 percent of all privately held companies in North America are owned by women. Meanwhile, WPO members earn average annual sales of $13 million, says Marsha Firestone, founder and president of the organization. "It's very difficult to build a business. And it keeps the fire in the hearth burning to see women who have made it."
Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies
- Spartan Constructors LLC
Industrial construction Sugar Hill, GA spartanconstructors.com
Heidi Smith Price
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $350,000 2003 sales: $100,000 2007 sales: $136 million
- Pinnacle Technical Resources Inc.
IT staffing Dallas pinnacle1.com
Nina G. Vaca
Began: 1996 Initial Investment: $300 2003 sales: $9 million 2007 sales: $141 million
- Temporary Housing Directory Inc.
Temporary housing & hotel placements Castle Rock, CO temporaryhousingdirectory.com
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $281,000 2007 sales: $20 million
- EnterForce Inc.
Managed services provider Waukesha, WI enterforce.com
Marie L. O'Brien, Filippa C. Weber
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $26,000 2003 sales: $1.9 million 2007 sales: $50.3 million
- Strategic Staffing Solutions Inc.
Staffing solutions Indianapolis strategicstaffonline.com
Debra J. Maynard
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $60,000 2003 sales: $1.3 million 2007 sales: $39.4 million
- Polaris Direct
Mailing services Hooksett, NH polarisdirect.net
Judith Maloy, Suzanne Lampognana
Began: 2003 Initial Investment: $2.4 million 2003 sales: $2.1 million 2007 sales: $43.9 million
- Artech Information Systems LLC
IT staffing Cedar Knolls, NJ artechinfo.com
Began: 1992 Initial Investment: $200,000 2003 sales: $16.5 million 2007 sales: $128.2 million
- Global Resource Management Inc.
IT & supply chain management services Suwanee, GA grmi.net
Began: 1993 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $2.2 million 2007 sales: $39.9 million
- United Scrap Metal Inc.
Metal recycling Cicero, IL unitedscrap.com
Began: 1978 Initial Investment: $200 2003 sales: $33.9 million 2007 sales: $172.8 million
- Morpheus Media
Interactive advertising & marketing agency New York City morpheusmedia.com
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $0 2003 sales: $2 million 2007 sales: $35 million
- Pinnacle Petroleum Inc.
Petroleum products Huntington Beach, CA pinnaclepetroleum.com
Began: 1995 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $19.3 million 2007 sales: $120 million
- Sun Coast Resources Inc.
Petroleum products Houston suncoastresources.com
Began: 1985 Initial Investment: $2,000 2003 sales: $554 million 2007 sales: $1.1 billion
- Salo LLC
Senior-level finance & accounting staffing Minneapolis salollc.com
Amy L. Langer
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $150,000 2003 sales: $3.4 million 2007 sales: $42 million
- Search Wizards Inc.
Consulting firm Atlanta searchwizards.net
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $0 2003 sales: $359,600 2007 sales: $12.2 million
Translation services New York City transperfect.com
Elizabeth Elting, Shirley Shawe
Began: 1992 Initial Investment: $5,000 2003 sales: $37 million 2007 sales: $156.5 million
- MediConnect Global Inc.
Medical record retrieval & digitization South Jordan, UT mediconnect.net
Amy Rees Anderson
Began: 1996 Initial Investment: Undisclosed 2003 sales: $2.8 million 2007 sales: $35.6 million
- The Saxon Group Inc.
Industrial construction Sugar Hill, GA thesaxongroupinc.com
Began: 1995 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $13.4 million 2007 sales: $81.8 million
- Aecometric Corp.
Industrial combustion equipment Richmond Hill, Ontario aecometric.com
Began: 1978 Initial Investment: $50,000 2003 sales: $1.5 million 2007 sales: $23 million
- Kilop USA Inc.
Raw materials sourcing & distribution High Point, NC
Christine Yumei Chen
Began: 1988 Initial Investment: $44,500 2003 sales: $3 million 2007 sales: $28.8 million
- KellyMitchell Group Inc.
IT consulting St. Louis kellymitchell.com
Began: 1998 Initial Investment: $10,000 2003 sales: $4.6 million 2007 sales: $33.6 million
- Communispace Corp.
Online community creation & management Watertown, MA communispace.com
Began: 1999 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $2.4 million 2007 sales: $23.6 million
- Advantage Performance Network
Travel & perfomance improvement solutions Savage, MN advantageperformancenetwork.com
Mary Sue Leathers
Began: 1995 Initial Investment: $40,000 2003 sales: $23.3 million 2007 sales: $85 million
- RCC Associates
General contracting Deerfield Beach, FL rccassociates.com
Began: 1971 Initial Investment: $5,000 2003 sales: $34.8 million 2007 sales: $105.1 million
- Continental Cabinets Inc.
Cabinets Dallas ccabinc.com
Began: 1988 Initial Investment: Undisclosed 2003 sales: $48.9 million 2007 sales: $130.8 million
- Words from The WiseNCompass International Inc.
We couldn't pass up the opportunity to dig a little deeper and uncover their secrets to success.
"Sixteen years ago, we were cold calling and struggling to land our first client, The Port Authority of New York. New Jersey called us by mistake, attempting to contact a company whose name was similar to [ours]. We kept them on the phone and discussed their IT infrastructure and project needs at length. Needless to say, they became our first client. We still laugh at this."
Ranjini Poddar, owner of Artech Information Systems LLC, No. 7
Cedar Knolls, New Jersey
"The biggest mistake we ever made was undervaluing ourselves. When we started, we were young and hungry, and we didn't give ourselves credit for the amount of value we brought to our clients and strategies. So the lesson learned is: Don't undervalue yourself and your expertise, and don't let your size dictate your value."
Shenan Reed, owner of Morpheus Media, No. 10
New York City
"It is important to take an inventory of your strengths and what you like to do. Focus on those things and get help for the others as soon as you can."
Amy L. Langer, owner of Salo LLC, No. 13
"Be a great juggler. As a woman in business, you will always have lots of balls in the air, including the activities of running your business and being strategic in your decisions to grow your business. In many cases, [you also have] the role of being a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister. The same traits that make us great in all of these roles are the ones that you will rely on to excel in business."
Leslie O'Connor, owner of Search Wizards Inc., No. 14
"Build an atmosphere of trust and respect. You must always respect the [employees and clients] you work with. Believe in your people. Make your word count. In addition, never lose focus on your next challenge." Jeni Bogdan, owner of The Saxon Group Inc., No. 17
Sugar Hill, Georgia
Marketing agency West Hollywood, CA ncompassonline.com
Donna Graves, Kae Erickson
Began: 2003 Initial Investment: $1.5 million 2003 sales: $360,000 2007 sales: $7.3 million
- Camp Bow Wow
Dog day camps & boarding services franchisor Boulder, CO campbowwow.com
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $85,000 2003 sales: $100,000 2007 sales: $3.8 million
- Casco Contractors Inc.
General contracting Irvine, CA cascocontractors.com
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $20,000 2003 sales: $3 million 2007 sales: $22.9 million
- Saicon Consultants Inc.
IT consulting Overland Park, KS saiconinc.com
Swati K. Yelmar
Began: 1998 Initial Investment: $6,000 2003 sales: $1.8 million 2007 sales: $16.5 million
- Outcomes Health Information Solutions LLC
Health-care data retreival, auditing & reporting Charlottesville, VA outcomesinc.com
Began: 1996 Initial Investment: $60,000 2003 sales: $3.5 million 2007 sales: $24.5 million
- MurTech Consulting
IT services Independence, OH murtechconsulting.com
Ailish M. Murphy
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $100,000 2003 sales: $685,700 2007 sales: $10 million
- Stratix Corp.
Mobility solutions Norcross, GA stratixcorp.com
Began: 1983 Initial Investment: $750 2003 sales: $38.2 million 2007 sales: $106.3 million
- Application Development Resources Inc.
IT services Alpharetta, GA appdevinc.com
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $5,000 2003 sales: $697,000 2007 sales: $9.7 million
- Ricochet Fuel Distributors Inc.
Fuel distributor Euless, TX ricochetfuel.com
Began: 1988 Initial Investment: $20,000 2003 sales: $7.4 million 2007 sales: $36.2 million
- Logical Choice Technologies Inc.
Education technology integration Duluth, GA logicalchoice.com
Cynthia B. Kaye
Began: 1994 Initial Investment: $0 2003 sales: $19.1 million 2007 sales: $65.4 million
- SaltWorks Inc.
Sea salt Woodinville, WA seasalt.com
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $1,500 2003 sales: $264,000 2007 sales: $5.7 million
- Icon Information Consultants LP
IT staffing Houston iconconsultants.com
Began: 1998 Initial Investment: $250,000 2003 sales: $23 million 2007 sales: $72 million
Promotional products & services Danvers, MA swervepoint.com
Began: 2003 Initial Investment: $125,000 2003 sales: $1.9 million 2007 sales: $15.5 million
- Strategic Staffing Solutions
IT consulting Detroit strategicstaff.com
Began: 1990 Initial Investment: $60,000 2003 sales: $67 million 2007 sales: $148 million
- Butler/Till Media Services Inc.
Media research services Rochester, NY butlertill.com
Susan R. Butler, Tracy E. Till
Began: 1998 Initial Investment: $10,000 2003 sales: $7.1 million 2007 sales: $32.3 million
- IBT Holdings LLC
Design, building & consulting services Norcross, GA ibtenterprises.com
Began: 1985 Initial Investment: Undisclosed 2003 sales: $15.8 million 2007 sales: $53.2 million
- Carolina IT Professionals Inc.
IT staffing Mount Holly, NC citpinc.com
Phyllis Friday McConnell
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $500 2003 sales: $3 million 2007 sales: $19 million
- Vignon Corp.
IT staffing Dallas vignon.com
Kathy Hodgins Blanck
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $20,000 2003 sales: $144,600 2007 sales: $3.6 million
- Warrior Group Inc.
Modular construction DeSoto, TX warrior-group.net
Began: 1997 Initial Investment: $1,000 2003 sales: $11.4 million 2007 sales: $41.7 million
- Greenlite Lighting Corp.
Energy-efficient lighting products Pointe-Claire, Quebec greenlite.ca
Began: 1994 Initial Investment: $1 million 2003 sales: $6 million 2007 sales: $28 million
- BrightStar Healthcare
Medical/nonmedical home-care & medical staffing franchisor Gurnee, IL brightstarhealthcare.com
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $100,000+ 2003 sales: $1.4 million 2007 sales: $11.8 million
- Bett-A-Way Pallet Systems Inc.
Transportation solutions & pallet management South Plainfield, NJ bettaway.com
June Delany, Tracey Ursini, Betty Vaccaro, Laura Vaccaro
Began: 1996 Initial Investment: $6,000 2003 sales: $10.6 million 2007 sales: $26.2 million
- ProActive Solutions Inc.
IT solutions Mission, KS proactivesolutions.com
Began: 1996 Initial Investment: $0 2003 sales: $9.6 million 2007 sales: $37 million
- ITI Inc.
IT & business consulting Pearland, TX iti-ps.com/services
Began: 2000 Initial Investment: $0 2003 sales: $1.2 million 2007 sales: $10.5 million
- Trans-Expedite Inc.
Freight forwarding El Paso, TX trans-expedite.com
Began: 2001 Initial Investment: $29,000 2003 sales: $3 million 2007 sales: $18 million
- LetterLogic Inc.
Mailing services Nashville, TN letterlogic.com
Began: 2002 Initial Investment: $50,000 2003 sales: $1.1 million 2007 sales: $9.8 million
Behind The Numbers
The 50 fastest-growing women-led companies ranking was compiled with the help of the Women Presidents' Organization, a nonprofit peer advisory organization for independent women presidents and CEOs. Entrepreneur and the WPO solicited applications from women-led businesses in North America and considered those that met the following criteria:
Research was conducted by WPO director of communications Caitlin Jenkins, communications manager Kirsten Wynn and assistants Kat Piracha and Tanya Rosado. Entrepreneur research editor James Park also contributed to this listing.
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