The Flavor of Home-Grown

The Corporate Report 100 isn’t just a compilation of fast-growth companies; it says something about Kansas City’s business climate, too.

By Joe Sweeney

It’s hard to believe this is the 33rd annual release of Ingram’s Corporate Report 100—the ranking of the fastest-growing companies headquartered in the greater Kansas City region.

It’s harder for me to believe this is the 22nd year that our team has managed this unique ranking.

As you might imagine, we’ve probably seen it all as we recruit data from companies, and at times are most definitely fed some less-than-believable information. We continue to elevate our standards and requirements so companies need to prove their revenues on an accrual basis—especially among the top quartile.

Much of this month’s edition of Ingram’s, as well as Destination Kansas City, focuses on work-force development and the critical importance of securing and retaining productive workers. Kansas City is certainly not alone in this nationwide and international effort for companies and organizations to compete to hire and retain qualified workers and to build successful companies.

There’s no question that the productivity of a work force makes the difference between a company that is either great or gone. We’ve studied companies for decades and we only half-joke when we suggest that recurring companies that rank on the CR100—especially in the Top 10—are particularly vulnerable. Often, the volatility associated with fast growth leads to the demise of  companies. The fact is, growing too fast is one of the larger dangers of effectively sustaining a company.

A review of the CR100 Honor Roll on page 72 is worth studying. It may come as no surprise that Cerner tops the list with most appearances—making the CR100 22 of the 33 years. For many of those years, Cerner co-founders Neal Patterson or Cliff Illig would contact me as we concluded the process, to see if they ranked, and roughly where.

History has shown us many times over the decades that it’s very hard to keep this pace of growth when revenues rise concurrent with years in business.

Despite impressive growth in this past cycle—from $3.4 billion in 2014 to $5.1 billion in 2017—Cerner would have ranked No. 163 this year. The No. 2 all-time honoree, SKC Communications, would have ranked No. 279.

The fact is, it’s very hard to keep the pace of growth when revenues rise concurrent with years in business. 

The Majority are First-Time Honorees

Here’s where the analysis gets interesting: 51 of this year’s 100 companies have claimed their position on Ingram’s Corporate Report 100 for the first time ever—including 36 of the Top 50. What this suggests is that the KC region has an extremely strong business environment and culture and is conducive for small businesses to effectively grow and thrive. Another interesting observation is that all 100 of this year’s honorees grew by more than 100 percent between 2014 and 2017. That rarely happens, and contradicts economists warning of recession.

It’s not surprising that younger companies prevail in the CR100, but there are many established companies in this year’s lineup as well, including AdamsGabbert, Keller Williams, Excel Construction, Strickland Construction, DEG and 12-time honoree Affinity Group Management.

I can’t begin to tell you the time and resources that goes into responsibly researching and reporting the Corporate Report 100 ranking and we appreciate the nearly 500 companies that are headquartered in the KC area that submit their application and revenues each year for consideration.

We hope you consider Ingram’s CR100 as an informative and useful report and a tool to engage with the fastest-growing companies who are home grown in and around KC. We’re proud to serve as the steward of the CR100 and to hold standards extremely high and in line with the most reputable national rankings. If ever there was a doubt if the Kansas City area possessed a healthy environment to invest and build a business, the Corporate Report 100 is a solid reminded of not only the stability among companies in the region, but the level of innovation happening among dozens of strong sectors here. Kansas City may be considered an island and a fair distance from comparably sized markets, but we can with confidence report that the economy and business environment here is quite healthy.

About the author


Joe Sweeney

Editor-In-Chief & Publisher

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