Congratulations to the winners of our 32nd annual Corporate Report 100 ranking. It’s been a big year!
By Joe Sweeney
This year marks the 20th occurrence of our team’s administering the annual Corporate Report 100 ranking of the fastest-growing companies headquartered in the greater Kansas City region. The CR100 competition is actually in its 32nd year—we’re honored to be able to continue the tradition of this fun and competitive annual ranking.
Never have we seen so much lift in revenues from one year to another. The economy is clearly humming along at a better pace in many sectors but you’ll see some interesting patterns in studying the outcomes of this year’s honorees. First, realty companies are having banner years. So are many companies associated with the construction and design sectors—from general contractors to home builders to subcontractors. Most organizations that have a hand in construction are doing well.
Another pattern you may notice is the age of many of the firms on the CR100 ranking. Naturally, it’s easier to grow by significant percentages when starting with a small baseline year. Our point of entry for this competition was $200,000 in gross revenue in 2013, and at least $1 million for 2016.
We get to know many companies much better when they wade in to Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 competition, and it’s common that once they submit, they usually nominate their firm every year. I can relate with many of these companies, especially the smaller firms enjoying breakneck growth.
Back in the ’80s, I ran a small business by the name of Corporate Care, which provided commercial landscape construction and lawn maintenance services, in additional to seasonal services such as snow removal. As often times it hap-pens, this was the continuance of a service company I operated to pay my way through high school and college in the ’70s.
I recall as a kid being focused mostly on top-line revenue growth and we enjoyed about 125 percent growth each year for a decade. Had I known about the Corporate Report 100 ranking in its first few years, I’m sure we would have ranked high among the volatile companies who were also growing by breakneck speed. We grew to 80 seasonal employees, and in my late 20s,
I worked my way out of this enterprise for a few reasons.
First, I never intended to continue to run this company but ironically during the ’80s, commercial construction was booming, especially the development of the College Boulevard corridor and it made sense at the time to make hay. The challenges, however, were clear and present—our business was seasonal—we had to carry our good employees through the winter or we would lose them. We staffed-up with transient, mostly seasonal labor. The business was terribly capital intensive—we heavily invested in equipment early each spring when cash flow challenges were typically at a peak. We had a $4 million landscape construction contract at Executive Park in 1986 and I encountered my first serious experience working with an absolutely corrupt client. We settled after months of trying to get paid and I walked away from the 10 percent retention (aka profit). I learned a valuable lesson that miserable summer—to do business with people you know, like and TRUST!
My exit plan was an interesting experience as well. We amassed a substantial amount of equipment. The absolute auction was preceded by a sale of some of the vehicles and equipment to Harry Lloyd, who at the time had just opened Loch Lloyd Country Club. Harry offered me exactly 50 percent of my asking price for the equipment he wanted. “Do you know how I make my living, son?” asked Harry. (Another good les-son, as I learned, was to research who I’m doing business with.) “I import products from the Orient and sell them for many multiples higher than their value—I don’t think I’ve paid retail or the asking price for anything in decades.”
I’m happy to report that Harry finally paid my asking price—several hundred thousand dollars—and I also negotiated 12 rounds of golf at Loch Lloyd. He was not only a little baffled but he had to be amused. During my first round of golf on that beautiful course, I saw a platoon of guys mowing the large hillside with my old walk-behind commercial mowers as I came in on 18—this, ironically, was a bit of a high-point in my young career, which has included many fun and several not-so-fun learning experiences.
I launched our first magazine that year and remain charged every time I visit with an ambitious entrepreneur.
I have a great deal of admiration for the companies who land on Ingram’s CR100. The common denominator among most firms is that they’re focused on the future, and fittingly, they’re also focused on the top and especially the bottom line. It’s a real pleasure to administer this fun annual competition, and we encourage other fast-growth businesses to submit their nomination in the future.
Enjoy getting to know this year’s class of CR100 winners.
Editor-In-Chief & Publisher