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YEARS<br />

2008-2017<br />

A look back at the past <strong>10</strong> years of the<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies Awards<br />

Strategies for managing growth - Thoughts on the next <strong>10</strong> years<br />

Updates on past honorees - Notable milestones & records

TLCA would like to thank<br />

the local communities<br />

as we celebrate our<br />

th anniversary!<br />

<strong>10</strong><br />

“Named one of America’s Fastest-<br />

Growing Private Companies, TLC<br />

Associates is committed to operational<br />

excellence and a clearly defined goal:<br />

delivering program results with which<br />

our customers are satisfied and returning<br />

a positive ROI back to our clients.”<br />


JUNE 2017<br />

Chief Executive Officer<br />

& Publisher<br />

John F. Lohman<br />

Vice President<br />

Aspen N. Lohman<br />

Chief Operating Officer<br />

& Associate Publisher<br />

Andrea Rhoades<br />

Editor & Chief Content Officer<br />

Adam Moore<br />

Writers<br />

Chase Castle<br />

Dave DeWitte<br />

Angela Holmes<br />

Photographers<br />

Bill Adams<br />

Emily Bettridge<br />

Sarah Binder<br />

Brian Draeger<br />

Angela Holmes<br />

Graphic Design Manager<br />

Becky Lyons<br />

Graphic Designer<br />

Julia Druckmiller<br />

Media Consultants<br />

Kris Lacina<br />

Kelly Meyer<br />

Event Media Consultant<br />

Rhonda Roskos<br />

Marketing & Distribution Manager<br />

Jean Suckow<br />

Event Marketing Coordinator<br />

Ashley Levitt<br />

Contents are registered to Corridor Media Group.<br />

Reproductions or other use, in whole or in part, of<br />

the contents of the publication without permission<br />

is strictly prohibited.<br />


Marking a milestone<br />

The Fastest Growing Companies awards program, now in its <strong>10</strong>th year, has been<br />

one of our most satisfying projects here at the Corridor Business Journal.<br />

Before these awards were given, many of the entrepreneurs<br />

we now recognize were producing great economic<br />

development accomplishments through their businesses,<br />

but very few people outside of their company and<br />

vendors knew about them. That was a shame.<br />

It’s akin to a tree falling in the forest – if nobody<br />

hears it, does it make a sound?<br />

These entrepreneurial endeavors, and the wealth that<br />

they create, are important lessons for our region to hear,<br />

so that their successes can be replicated and nurtured.<br />

After all, growing our own companies in the Corridor,<br />

rather than competing to recruit outside businesses, is<br />

the best long-term approach to economic success.<br />

As we’ve mentioned numerous times in the CBJ<br />

over the past decade, these fast-growing companies are the so-called “gazelles”<br />

in economic development parlance, and are coveted by development and community<br />

officials.<br />

Those same officials should conduct a thorough examination of these companies,<br />

and see what incentives, if any, helped them accomplish what they have<br />

accomplished – and then see what else can be done to help them grow even<br />

more. This publication should help.<br />

It’s exciting to look back over these the past decade and see the impact these<br />

<strong>10</strong>0 companies have made on our region. We’ve circled around with some of the<br />

fastest companies to appear on our list for updates, and analyzed data on our<br />

past winners to look for deeper trends and takeaways that might offer clues for<br />

future assistance.<br />

It’s a cliché to say that a business can grow too fast, but a review of our lists<br />

over the past decade reveals multiple casualties attributable to that. Running or<br />

working for a fast-growing company is certainly exciting, but can be challenging<br />

in many other ways. That’s why those companies that have been on the list multiple<br />

times should get some additional attention.<br />

Clickstop is the leader in that category, with the Urbana-based online retailer<br />

appearing a record seven times over the past decade. The company has grown<br />

from a one-man show to more than <strong>10</strong>0 employees and nearly $36 million in<br />

revenue. It’s an amazing story that you can read more about inside the pages of<br />

this magazine.<br />

We would also like to thank our partner, Honkamp Krueger PC, as we recognize<br />

a decade of the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies program. The Dubuquebased<br />

firm has confidentially compiled the revenue numbers from these <strong>10</strong>0 private,<br />

for-profit companies for the past <strong>10</strong> years. We couldn’t have done it without<br />

them and their expertise and discretion.<br />

We hope you enjoy this look back, learn more about these high-performing<br />

companies and their leaders, and then consider what we can do as a region to<br />

foster the creation of more of these companies.<br />

2345 Landon Road, Ste. <strong>10</strong>0<br />

North Liberty, IA 52317<br />

319.665.NEWS<br />

www.corridorbusiness.com<br />

John Lohman<br />

CEO & Publisher<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 3



Sustaining growth is no easy task.............. 6<br />

LEADERS:<br />

Clickstop rides the e-commerce wave...... 28<br />


<strong>FGC</strong> by the numbers.................................. 30<br />


Through the <strong>Years</strong> 2008-2017..................... 9<br />

6<br />

2008: Asoyia LLC....................................... <strong>10</strong><br />

2009: Bochner Chocolates........................ 12<br />

20<strong>10</strong>: Thomas L. Cardella & Associates.... 14<br />

2011: MediRevv......................................... 16<br />

2012: Midwest Microwave Solutions........ 18<br />

2013: Lattice Communications................. 20<br />

2014: Midwest Microwave Solutions........ 22<br />

2015: Spotix.............................................. 24<br />

2016: Moxie Solar..................................... 26<br />

2017: Sitler’s LED Supplies....................... 32<br />

28<br />

4 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary


Technology paving the way for<br />

Corridor's Fastest Growing Companies<br />

We are excited to once again partner with the Corridor<br />

Business Journal for this year’s Fastest Growing<br />

Companies awards program. For <strong>10</strong> years we<br />

have been honored to be part of this competitive<br />

and prestigious award. Year over year, Corridor-area<br />

businesses continue to adapt and grow to the rapidly<br />

changing world we live in, and it’s been fun to<br />

watch these exceptional companies as they travel<br />

along their journey.<br />

Each year, we review the applicants’ financial<br />

statements and tax returns for the past three years<br />

to determine their overall percentage of growth,<br />

and the numbers have been amazing. We have seen<br />

greater than 400 percent growth in some cases, and<br />

companies have come within a decimal of a percentage<br />

point from each other to take the top spots.<br />

Most impressive are the companies who have made<br />

the list multiple times, which is an amazing accomplishment.<br />

If a business continues to make the top<br />

five or <strong>10</strong> each year, it means their revenue is effectively<br />

doubling annually, which is pretty powerful.<br />

One of the biggest trends we have seen over the<br />

years is the growth of technology and web-based<br />

companies. This comes as no surprise considering<br />

the mobile and digital world we live in, but the way<br />

these companies are successful is where it really gets<br />

interesting. Nearly every traditional industry has had<br />

to adapt to be more mobile and web-based, and that<br />

has in turn opened the door for entrepreneurs to<br />

step in and use their technological acumen.<br />

Rather than create new products or try to compete<br />

in traditional industries themselves, entrepreneurs<br />

are developing ways to help those industries<br />

perform more efficiently. For example, we already<br />

have companies that develop and manufacture<br />

heavy equipment; those companies that fall in the<br />

fast-growing category are instead coming up with<br />

ways to digitally manage the diagnostics on the<br />

equipment and provide better insight on its performance.<br />

Likewise, our health care systems have established<br />

staff, equipment and facilities, but entrepreneurs<br />

are coming up with better ways to manage<br />

their data and patient information so doctors can<br />

make better, more informed decisions.<br />

We also have seen an uptick in web-based retailers<br />

who have gone off the physical grid and exclusively<br />

operate online. These retailers are essentially<br />

like a mini-Amazon – they order products and resell<br />

them to the consumer. Without the overhead<br />

of a traditional physical location, these retailers can<br />

grow at a faster rate and meet their customers wherever<br />

and whenever they are online. It’s a game that<br />

people with a good sense of technology, distribution<br />

and marketing have jumped on,<br />

and it’s working here in Eastern Iowa.<br />

Furthermore, the growth we have<br />

seen has been encouraged and supported<br />

through some excellent economic<br />

stimulus programs such as<br />

tax incentives and historical districts.<br />

Growing companies in need of more<br />

space can make the investment to<br />

expand and build what they need,<br />

thanks to strong working partnerships<br />

with local and state economic<br />

development initiatives. More than<br />

half of all the entries over the course<br />

of the program have come from the Cedar Rapids<br />

metro area, while the rest have been fairly evenly dispersed<br />

throughout the Corridor, indicating that economic<br />

partnerships and overall community support<br />

has been strong for companies looking to expand.<br />

Moving into the next <strong>10</strong> years, based on the<br />

trends, we anticipate more entrepreneurs developing<br />

technologies and solutions to support industries<br />

and companies that already exist here in Eastern<br />

Iowa. Industries like health care, manufacturing,<br />

education, investments and services, and engineering<br />

are all going to need mobile and web-based<br />

solutions to support their operations and systems.<br />

Those who can find their niche and can figure out<br />

how to solve problems using technology, data and<br />

algorithms are the ones who will continue to grow<br />

and succeed in today’s digital world.<br />

As a fastest growing CPA firm in the U.S. for the<br />

past seven years, we can relate to these companies,<br />

which have found ways to carve out a niche, grow<br />

and sustain their business. Many of these are people<br />

we work with daily. We get it, and we understand<br />

where they’re headed. Their success is inspiring and<br />

the support locally is encouraging. We look forward<br />

to being a part of the next <strong>10</strong> years of this program,<br />

and we can’t wait to see what these companies come<br />

up with next.<br />

Kyle Kunz, CPA.CITP<br />

Partner<br />

Honkamp Krueger PC<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 5


Sustaining growth<br />

is no easy task<br />

By Dave DeWitte<br />

dave@corridorbusiness.com<br />

Corridor<br />

business<br />

leaders<br />

discuss the<br />

challenges<br />

that come with<br />

high-growth<br />

companies<br />

EDC CEO Curt Nelson, in the organization’s offices earlier this year.<br />

It typically gets harder to stay on the CBJ’s<br />

annual list of the Corridor’s Fastest Growing<br />

Companies after the first year or two of<br />

making an appearance, and yet it’s a feat that<br />

some companies have managed repeatedly.<br />

The challenge for “repeaters” is that it’s easier to grow,<br />

percentage-wise, from a small revenue base than from<br />

a larger one.<br />

“The percentages work in favor of a smaller company,”<br />

said Kris Gulick, who had worked with some of<br />

the ‘fastest’ companies as president of Entrepreneurial<br />

Services Group before selling the company in January.<br />

“They can have a high rate of growth for a few years or<br />

so, but their size catches up with them.”<br />

Mr. Gulick says being in the right industry at the<br />

right time can make a huge difference in how fast a<br />

6 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

company grows, as past booms in telecommunications and<br />

e-commerce have benefited Corridor companies. But perhaps<br />

the biggest factor in determining which companies keep coming<br />

back is profitability.<br />

“You could have significant growth, but if you do not have<br />

positive earnings, you cannot sustain higher sales volumes,”<br />

Mr. Gulick said. He added that profitability isn’t a requirement<br />

for making the fastest-growing list, but definitely comes<br />

into play in determining which companies keep coming back<br />

and which ones don’t.<br />

Curt Nelson, CEO of the Cedar Rapids-based Entrepreneurial<br />

Development Center (EDC), has also seen some patterns<br />

after years of working with growth-stage companies, some of<br />

which have made the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list.<br />

“If you get the ingredients and the execution right, it’s<br />

pretty straightforward,” Mr. Nelson said, defining “the ingredients”<br />

as:<br />

n Leadership: In addition to being strong leaders themselves,<br />

the company’s leadership must define the culture<br />

that drives a company.<br />

n Talent: Having the right people in the right places, and<br />

keeping them motivated so that they stay in the company<br />

and continue to perform well.<br />

n Resources: Although the obvious one is money, today’s<br />

businesses need the right technology, information, location,<br />

office environment and human resources to succeed.<br />

n Strategic fit: The business has to offer a product or service<br />

that it can use to generate profitable demand, and may<br />

have to change its product or service as factors in the marketplace<br />

such as competition, technology or market demographics<br />

change.<br />

TrueNorth Companies CEO Duane Smith, shown in his Cedar Rapids office. The<br />

company has appeared on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing list three times.<br />

“The better you get at all those things, year-upon-year, the<br />

more likely you are to be successful,” said Mr. Nelson, who<br />

wrote about the ingredients in his book, “The Recipe for Business<br />

Success,” and has explained them at seminars.<br />

When a high-growth business begins to fade, he says it’s<br />

often because its leaders lost focus on the ingredients that<br />

were making it successful. They may have lost the edge of providing<br />

the most responsive customer service, or their product<br />

that was once the best on the market may now be far down<br />

the list.<br />

“You have a nice restaurant in town and there’s nobody<br />

else there, and nobody else wants to open a restaurant,” Mr.<br />

Nelson said. “You feel like you’re a great restaurateur because<br />

there’s nobody there to compete with.”<br />

The arrival of a major competitor may force that business<br />

to not only refocus on its execution, but to redefine itself to<br />

differentiate its offering from the competition’s, he said.<br />

High-growth companies can also stumble when their<br />

founders don’t accept their own limitations, and fail to bring<br />

in more experienced and educated leaders who can better address<br />

the challenges of growth.<br />

“It’s an issue that comes with every business that gets<br />

started,” Mr. Nelson said. “Businesses get started by people<br />

who can build the widget and make the product. They don’t<br />

usually get started by the person who can build the company,<br />


CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 7




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8 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

Through the <strong>Years</strong><br />

2008-2017<br />

The Corridor Business Journal’s annual Fastest Growing Companies<br />

awards program has been a frequent source of excitement and inspiration over<br />

the past decade, with some of the region’s most successful companies taking<br />

their turn in the top spot. We revisited our reporting on each year’s<br />

No. 1 company, and followed up with them to see how they’re doing now.<br />



Happy <strong>10</strong> years of “Fastest Growing” to Corridor Business Journal!<br />

2007 was a great year, wasn’t it?<br />

www.beamedirevver.com<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 9

2008’S FASTE<br />

Asoyia LLC<br />

Based in Iowa City<br />

Established in 2004<br />

851% growth (2 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

Asoyia, a maker of a zero trans fat soybean<br />

oils, was named the Fastest Growing Company<br />

in the Corridor in 2008, topping the<br />

list with 851 percent growth.<br />

Asoyia is a fledgling name in agriculture<br />

circles and has brought attention to its new<br />

hometown, Iowa City, in recent months. In<br />

March, Forbes.com ranked Iowa City eighth<br />

among its Top <strong>10</strong> Up-and-Coming Tech Cities,<br />

specifically naming Asoyia’s presence as<br />

a reason for the designation.<br />

The company was started in 2004 by<br />

25 farmers in Winfield, a farming community<br />

45 miles south of Iowa City. It moved<br />

to Johnson County in 2007 to be closer to<br />

business partners, such as Cargill in Cedar<br />

Rapids.<br />

Securing the bottom line, Asoyia recently<br />

received $4 million from new investors. The<br />

company also recently signed an agreement<br />

with Pioneer to promote a genetically modified<br />

1 percent low linolenic soybean.<br />

Meanwhile, Asoyia has expanded distribution<br />

into Illinois, hired two business development<br />

managers and received a grant<br />

through Iowa State University to promote<br />

its next generation product.<br />

“We’re still a relatively small company.<br />

We intend to continue to operate our business<br />

that way; we don’t intend to add 1,000<br />

people and become a very large bureaucratic<br />

corporation,” said President Greg Keeley.<br />

“We just want to do what we do as best as<br />

anybody can do, and we want to be the<br />

leader in this whole low trans fat or trans<br />

fat-free food market. It’s a $25 billion-plus<br />

market – it’s a huge market and we’re not<br />

going to be the next Wesson oil, but we’re<br />

definitely going to be a major player in the<br />

specialty oils market.”<br />

Asoyia President Greg Keeley compares the company’s journey thus far to a roller coaster ride while<br />

accepting an award at the Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies breakfast May 28, 2008.<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Less than two years after being named the Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company,<br />

Asoyia closed its doors.<br />

Former CFO Bob George told the CBJ in a March 20<strong>10</strong> article that the company<br />

closed because the price at which the company could sell its soybean oils did<br />

not cover the cost to produce them.<br />

“We had gotten investments and venture capital money came in and they<br />

helped sustain that for awhile, but the cost structure was just too heavy and eventually<br />

collapsed, based on what we could sell the oil for,” Mr. George said. “It<br />

was considered kind of a premium product, and in a down economy, people just<br />

don’t pay premium, regardless of the extra value the oil might have had from a<br />

health standpoint, as well as a stability standpoint and use in application and<br />

things like that. It had some advantages – if you did the cost analysis from the<br />

standpoint of its uses, it was a better product in the long run, but in down economic<br />

times people see a premium price and they just don’t take the time to ><br />

<strong>10</strong> CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

gigi@corridorbiznews.com<br />

tim@corridorbiznews.com<br />

$1.50<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s<br />


Rapid<br />

growth<br />

Asoyia named<br />

Corridor’s Fastest<br />

Growing company<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

FOCUS:<br />



Featuring the CBJ List<br />

of Fastest Growing<br />

Companies<br />



Asoyia President Greg Keeley compares the company’s journey thus far to a roller coaster ride while<br />

accepting an award at the Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies breakfast May<br />

28. Asoyia was named the fastest growing company of the Corridor, with 856 percent growth over a<br />

three-year period.<br />

It comes down to five principles.<br />

That's what Greg Keeley, president of<br />

Asoyia, told an audience last week at the<br />

Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing<br />

Companies breakfast. Asoyia, maker of a<br />

zero trans fat soybean oils, was named the<br />

fastest growing company in the area.<br />

It was one of roughly 25 businesses to<br />

be nominated for the award; 15 were recognized<br />

at the breakfast at the new Kirkwood<br />

Community College’s Center for<br />

Continuing Education in Cedar Rapids.<br />

Companies had to earn at least<br />

$350,000 annually and were ranked<br />

based on the percentage increase in revenue<br />

experienced from 2005 to 2007.<br />

Companies submitted tax forms or audit<br />

statements to participate.<br />

“We got a good cross section of companies<br />

applying,” said Gordon Epping, a<br />

partner with Honkamp, Krueger & Co.,<br />

who evaluated the entries. “We had some<br />

big companies with some great, large sales<br />

apply but they didn’t have the percentage<br />

increase and didn't make the cutoff.”<br />

Asoyia topped the list with 856 percent<br />

growth. Mr. Keeley shared with the audience<br />

five principles all entrepreneurs need to follow<br />

to succeed in today’s business world.<br />

“Entrepreneurs are all about growth<br />

and not about cost reductions or laying<br />

off workers,” he said.<br />

Business owners need a great product,<br />

should spend wisely, hire great people<br />

and need passion, Mr. Keeley said.<br />

“Find great people,” he said. “Not<br />

good people, but great people.”<br />

Asoyia is a fledgling name in agriculture<br />

circles and has brought attention to its new<br />

hometown, Iowa City, in recent months. In<br />

March, Forbes.com ranked Iowa City<br />

Auto parts<br />

Company opens a new<br />

NAPA auto parts store after a<br />

long search for the right spot.<br />

PAGE 5<br />

The century mark<br />

Electrical and telecommunications<br />

wholesale supplier<br />

Terry-Durin Co. marks<br />

<strong>10</strong>0 years.<br />

PAGE 8<br />

eighth among its Top <strong>10</strong> Up-and-Coming<br />

Tech Cities, specifically naming Asoyia’s<br />

presence as a reason for the designation.<br />

The company was started by 25 farmers<br />

in 2004 in Winfield, a farming community<br />

45 miles south of Iowa City. It<br />

moved to Iowa City last year to be closer<br />

to business partners, such as Cargill in<br />

Cedar Rapids.<br />

Asoyia’s soybean oil is made from soybeans<br />

with only 1 percent of linolenic<br />

ASOYIA continues on page 12<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

Credit counselor<br />

stresses paying<br />

debt is best use<br />

By Tim Kenyon<br />

June 2 - 8, 2008<br />

IOWA<br />

Economic<br />

stimulus<br />

check<br />

spending<br />

varied<br />

Using an economic stimulus check can be<br />

the first move for consumers to fix their<br />

troubled finances, according to a Cedar<br />

Rapids credit advisor.<br />

“I had a client last month that I put on<br />

a debt-management program and we<br />

looked at the check as a source to start<br />

debt reduction. That seemed to work good<br />

for us; we’re telling others the same thing,”<br />

said Kathi Moss, a housing and credit<br />

counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling<br />

Service in southeast Cedar Rapids.<br />

The $152 billion federal measure provides<br />

tax rebate checks of up to $600 per<br />

working individual and $1,200 per married<br />

couple, plus $300 per child for families with<br />

children. It also includes new tax incentives<br />

for job-creating business investments.<br />

Continuing to pay down debt without<br />

adding to it again is the next challenge,<br />

Ms. Moss said.<br />

“So many people are truly living on the<br />

STIMULUS continues on page <strong>10</strong><br />

Fastest Growing Companies 2008<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 05-07)<br />


1 Asoyia LLC Iowa City 851<br />

2 Hybrid Transit Systems Inc. Cedar Rapids 818<br />

3 Express Auto Delivery Cedar Rapids 621<br />

4 MobileDemand Hiawatha 312<br />

5 kor Cedar Rapids 235<br />

6 ServiceMaster 380 Cedar Rapids 197<br />

7 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 156 1<br />

8 Reminisce North Liberty 144<br />

9 Genova Technologies Cedar Rapids 115<br />

<strong>10</strong> Iowa Northern Railway Cedar Rapids 89<br />

11 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 89<br />

12 VIPS Cedar Rapids 73<br />

13 OPN Architects Inc. Cedar Rapids 72<br />

14 World Trend Financial Cedar Rapids 67<br />

15 RuffaloCODY Cedar Rapids 59<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification. 1 Figure from 04-06.<br />

“We had gotten investments and<br />

venture capital money came in and<br />

they helped sustain that for awhile,<br />

but the cost structure was just too<br />

heavy and eventually collapsed, based<br />

on what we could sell the oil for.”<br />

We Put Your Pets First<br />

– 2016 Fastest Growing Company Honoree –<br />

- Bob George, Former CFO of Asoyia<br />

think about how it will last longer in a fryer.”<br />

Saving the company would have required too much of an<br />

investment, he added.<br />

“Based on the numbers, it was going to take a significant<br />

amount of additional capital to try to get the cash flow positive<br />

and we just didn’t see a buyer on the horizon who was<br />

going to be willing to do that, let alone existing ownership,”<br />

Mr. George said.<br />

– Angela Holmes<br />

319-743-0554<br />

www.petersenpethospital.com<br />

420 Colton Circle NE, Unit 3, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 11

2009’S FASTE<br />

Eric Bochner, president of Bochner Chocolates, stands in his southern Iowa City<br />

manufacturing center in 2008.<br />

Bochner Chocolates<br />

Based in Iowa City<br />

Established in 2003<br />

427% growth<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“The dirty secret of Bochner Chocolates is growing up, I never liked<br />

chocolate. I never really enjoyed chocolate,” said Eric Bochner, president<br />

of the chocolate manufacturing company. “It was only when<br />

I went to Europe and got a chance to try European chocolate that I<br />

began to like it.”<br />

Bochner Chocolates was named the Fastest Growing Company<br />

in the Corridor for 2009, with 427 percent growth from 2006-2008.<br />

Bochner produces high-end chocolates at its factory at 1419 Waterfront<br />

Drive in Iowa City and sells them at its retail store on the<br />

Coralville strip. His newest venture, Chocolate Block, is a retail store<br />

that sells the chocolates from his factory that don’t meet the company’s<br />

high-quality standards, at a lower price. Mr. Bochner refers to<br />

the discount chocolates as “selling champagne at beer prices.” The<br />

Chocolate Block, which opened about a month ago, is located at<br />

Pepperwood Plaza on Highway 6.<br />

“It’s doing much better than I even expected, that’s for sure,” he<br />

said. “The price point is lower, so you have to have more customers<br />

come in to do a certain amount of business and we’ve been seeing a<br />

huge influx of customers.”<br />

The company also sells its chocolates to other retailers<br />

and other venues, such as hotels. Additionally, it produces<br />

products under license for other companies, including<br />

a licensee of Hasbro.<br />

All this comes after a year when Bochner had to shut<br />

down for two months because of floods. The company was<br />

forced to dismantle $6 million of equipment. It took 36<br />

hours to take apart and 60 days to piece it back together.<br />

But business is brisk once again. Since opening five<br />

years ago, Bochner has doubled its manufacturing operation<br />

and will need more room before long.<br />

“We’ve had to increase the ability to make products,<br />

we’ve had to increase our capacity to package products,<br />

we’ve had to increase the variety of the products we package<br />

and make, so I say our capabilities have expanded a<br />

lot over the last five years,” Mr. Bochner said. “Our factory<br />

here is definitely going to max out in the next year<br />

or two. If we continue to grow even at reasonable rates<br />

comparable to what we’ve been doing, this factory’s going<br />

to max out and we’re already trying to envision what<br />

we’re going to do next.”<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Bochner Chocolates’ presence in the Corridor was short<br />

but sweet.<br />

Founded in 2003, the Iowa City chocolate manufacturer<br />

increased its revenue between 2006 and 2008 by<br />

427 percent, making it one of the <strong>10</strong> fastest companies<br />

honored in the first decade of the CBJ’s Fastest Growing<br />

Company competition.<br />

“Growth on some level is natural because it’s either<br />

grow or die,” Eric Bochner, president of Bochner Chocolates,<br />

told the CBJ in 2009. “I’d say it’s been a natural<br />

evolution of what our original vision of what our company,<br />

what we, were going to do.”<br />

In November 2012, Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier<br />

of St. Louis acquired Bochner Chocolates for an<br />

undisclosed amount, in part for access to the equipment<br />

found at the company’s Iowa City facility, according to<br />

news reports. That equipment, along with “several key<br />

people,” relocated to St. Louis later that year, and founder<br />

Eric Bochner assumed the position of senior vice president<br />

of operations and private label sales, according to<br />

trade publication Candy Industry.<br />

“Combining our advanced technology model with<br />

Bissinger’s extensive sales and distribution network will<br />

elevate Bissinger’s to levels the company has never seen,”<br />

Mr. Bochner said in a press release announcing the sale.<br />

“I am very excited to be a part of the next chapter of<br />

Bissinger’s long and distinguished history.”<br />

Ken Kellerhals, Bissinger’s president, said the purchase<br />

would help his company transform into a premier<br />

boutique chocolatier with a national presence.<br />

12 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

Eric Bochner, president of Bochner Chocolates, stands in his southern Iowa City manufacturing center in 2008. Bochner Chocolates was named the<br />

Fastest Growing Company in the Corridor this year with a three-year growth rate of 427 percent.<br />

gigi@corridorbiznews.com<br />

PAGE 3<br />

PAGE <strong>10</strong><br />

BOCHNER continues on page 11<br />

tim@corridorbiznews.com<br />

IMPACT continues on page 2<br />

$1.50<br />


ST<br />

Corridor’s<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

It’s a company with a secret.<br />

“The dirty secret of Bochner<br />

Chocolates is growing up I never liked<br />

chocolate. I never really enjoyed chocolate,”<br />

said Eric Bochner, president of<br />

FOCUS:<br />



Featuring the CBJ List<br />

of Fastest Growing<br />

Companies<br />



Fastest growing companies honored<br />

Bochner Chocolates wins with 427 percent growth<br />

Bon appetite<br />

The Chef’s Table brings French<br />

cuisine to remodeled downtown<br />

Iowa City space.<br />

Top entrepreneur<br />

Dennis Henderson with Ready<br />

Mobile is the 2009<br />

Entrepreneur of the Year.<br />

the chocolate manufacturing company.<br />

“It was only when I went to Europe and<br />

got a chance to try European chocolate<br />

that I began to like it.”<br />

Mr. Bochner shared anecdotes about<br />

his career and business at the Fastest<br />

Growing Companies breakfast May 19<br />

at the Coralville Marriott. Bochner<br />

Chocolates was named the fastestgrowing<br />

company in the area by the<br />

Corridor Business Journal. The event recognized<br />

the top 15 fastest growing companies<br />

in the Corridor.<br />

Companies had to earn at least<br />

$350,000 annually and were ranked<br />

based on the percentage increase in revenue<br />

experienced from 2006 to 2008.<br />


Combination<br />

seeks maximum<br />

impact<br />

Access Iowa,<br />

Next Generation<br />

Commission merge<br />

under chamber<br />

By Tim Kenyon<br />

May 25 - 31, 2009<br />

ImpactCR seeks to boost Cedar Rapids’<br />

ranking among top-rated “Next City”<br />

communities for young professionals to<br />

live and work.<br />

“Fourth place isn’t good enough anymore.<br />

The next generation is ready to tell<br />

employers it’s time to include them more,”<br />

said Christian Fong, co-chair of the new initiative<br />

that merged Access Iowa and the<br />

Cedar Rapids Next Generation Commission.<br />

The group’s new name of ImpactCR<br />

and its logo were unveiled at a press conference<br />

last week that touched on Cedar<br />

Rapids’ recent No. 4 ranking on a list of<br />

cities with a population of <strong>10</strong>0,000 to<br />

200,000, according to the Madison, Wis.-<br />

based Next Generation Consulting.<br />

Merger talk began in January when<br />

Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of<br />

Commerce President and CEO Shannon<br />

Meyer recommended the idea. Uniting<br />

the two groups with similar missions<br />

under the resources of the chamber forms<br />

a powerful partnership, Ms. Meyer said.<br />

“This is strong people pushing at the<br />

same boulder going up a hill,” added Mr.<br />

Fong, who directs capital markets for<br />

Aegon USA Realty Advisors in Cedar<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

Fastest Growing Companies 2009<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 06-08)<br />


1 Bochner Chocolates Iowa City 427<br />

2 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 335<br />

3 Riverside Casino & Golf Resort Riverside 224<br />

4 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 196<br />

5 Expense Reduction Analysts Hiawatha 139<br />

6 Innomatix LLC Iowa City 126<br />

7 Hybrid Transit Systems Inc. Cedar Rapids 120<br />

8 TMone Iowa City <strong>10</strong>7<br />

9 AES Corp. Cedar Rapids <strong>10</strong>6<br />

<strong>10</strong> Sign Productions Inc. Marion 87<br />

11 Dynamic Broadband Cedar Rapids 72<br />

12 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 67<br />

13 Asoyia Inc. Iowa City 53<br />

14 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 51<br />

15 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 49<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

“We had to acquire a like-minded company with stateof-the-art<br />

capabilities that complement Bissinger’s heritage,<br />

quality, strategy, products and sales network,” he<br />

said. “This is the perfect fit for Bissinger’s.”<br />

Despite a pledge by Bissinger’s to keep the Coralville<br />

store open under the Bochner name, the shop closed its<br />

doors in May 2013. The production plant closed soon after,<br />

and The Chocolate Block shut its doors by summer 2014.<br />

The move resulted in the local loss of about a dozen<br />

full-time employees, according to news reports, although<br />

Bissinger’s said the acquisition created about 40 positions<br />

at its St. Louis plant.<br />

– Chase Castle<br />

Growing and advancing the<br />

Ponseti Method of clubfoot<br />

treatment at home and around<br />

the globe since 2004.<br />

MD Orthopaedics, Inc.<br />

MD Molding<br />

manufacturer for MD Orthopaedics, Inc.<br />

www.mdorthopaedics.com<br />

Bochner Chocolates’ former retail operation<br />

near Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.<br />


CBJ Fastest Growing Company Honorees<br />

MD Ortho<br />

2009<br />

20<strong>10</strong><br />

2011<br />

MD Molding<br />

2013<br />

2014<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 13

20<strong>10</strong>’S FASTE<br />

TLC & Associates Founder and President Thomas Cardella, photographed at the CBJ<br />

offices earlier this year.<br />

Thomas L. Cardella & Associates<br />

Based in Cedar Rapids<br />

Established in 2007<br />

919% growth (2 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“We really focus on the basics each and every day,” said Thomas Cardella,<br />

founder and president of Thomas L. Cardella & Associates, which<br />

debuts on the Fastest Growing Companies list with 919 percent growth.<br />

“The spirit of my team … is that they’re extremely hard working,<br />

they put in hours that you couldn’t ask anyone to put in, because<br />

that’s how they feel about the company,” he said.<br />

TLC & Associates began opening call centers in Iowa in 2007 and<br />

has been racking up the awards during the past few years. It was<br />

named the Best in Class Call Center last year, and founder Mr. Cardella<br />

was recently named first runner-up for Call Center Leader of<br />

the Year award by the International Quality and Productivity Center,<br />

(IQPC) an industry organization.<br />

Last month, the company was also named one of the Top 50<br />

Outbound and Inbound Teleservices Agencies by Customer Interaction<br />

Solutions magazine. Cardella & Associates ranked No. 13 in<br />

outbound calls and 25th in inbound calls by the magazine.<br />

Before starting TLC & Associates, Mr. Cardella ran Access Direct,<br />

a telemarketing company he created in 1995 in Cedar Rapids. Access<br />

Direct, as does TLC & Associates, worked with global Fortune 500<br />

companies on inbound and outbound sales calls.<br />

“The companies we work with every day are worldwide<br />

companies with billion-dollar market caps,” he said.<br />

Access Direct was bought by Precision Response Corporation<br />

(PRC) in 2000, and Mr. Cardella became CEO<br />

before retiring from the firm in 2004. PRC closed its<br />

Coralville call center in 2006.<br />

With his new firm, Mr. Cardella has tried to open call<br />

centers in towns where Access Direct once operated.<br />

“We’ve tried to remain in those communities,” he said.<br />

TLC & Associates operates call centers in Cedar Rapids,<br />

Coralville, Keokuk, Marshalltown and Cedar Falls, and<br />

opened a Grinnell location last year. The company employs<br />

800 people, but expects to be up to 1,000 workers by July.<br />

“We’ll continue to expand our footprint throughout<br />

Iowa,” Mr. Cardella said. Since the company’s inception,<br />

each call center has expanded and now employs 60-200<br />

workers each.<br />

“We’re definitely hiring a lot of people,” he said. “We<br />

consistently have had a great workforce, we have intelligent<br />

people, we have a strong work ethic and those are<br />

hard to find outside of Iowa.”<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

With a 919 percent two-year growth rate in 20<strong>10</strong>, Thomas<br />

L. Cardella & Associates was easily “fastest of the fast”<br />

in the first decade of the Corridor Business Journal’s<br />

Fastest Growing Companies competition.<br />

Founder and President Tom Cardella credits the company’s<br />

people and location for much of its success in the<br />

customer contact center industry, which included another<br />

high appearance on the Fastest list in 2011.<br />

“We’re about six times larger in revenue than when<br />

we won our first Fastest Growing Companies [award]<br />

in 20<strong>10</strong>,” Mr. Cardella said. TLC & Associates has been<br />

ranked the ninth-largest integrated contact center operator<br />

in the United States, and Mr. Cardella thinks “the<br />

future’s really bright right now.”<br />

Hiring the right people has made the difference for<br />

TLC & Associates, Mr. Cardella said.<br />

“We opened this company specifically in Iowa to capitalize<br />

on the work ethic and the culture of our folks,”<br />

Mr. Cardella said. “That translates to our clients’ customers.<br />

In the last 12 months, we’ve probably spoken to 12<br />

million to 14 million people on the phone. Every one of<br />

those calls has to be as good as the last, or you get a bad<br />

reputation in the industry. It’s rare that I ever get a client<br />

complaining about a poor phone call, and that just says<br />

something about the quality of our name in the industry.”<br />

TLC & Associates employs more than 1,000 in<br />

Iowa at customer contact centers in Cedar Rapids,<br />

Keokuk, Marshalltown and Ottumwa. It also opened<br />

a smaller contact center in the Dominican Republic<br />

this spring, which it plans to grow to add Spanish and<br />

14 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

gigi@corridorbiznews.com<br />

Thomas Cardella, founder and president of Thomas L. Cardella & Associates, speaks after accepting<br />

the Fastest Growing Company award at breakfast last week at the Cedar Rapids Marriott.<br />

PAGE 3<br />

PAGE 5<br />

CARDELLA continues on page 12<br />

johnk@corridorbiznews.com<br />

AIRPORT continues on page 4<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s<br />

$1.50<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

It’s all about the basics.<br />

That’s what the fastest-growing company<br />

in the Corridor practices on a daily basis<br />

and is how it beats the competition.<br />

“We really focus on the basics each and<br />

every day,” said Thomas Cardella,<br />

founder and president of Thomas L.<br />

Cardella & Associates, which debuted on<br />

the Fastest Growing Companies list with<br />

919 percent growth.<br />

To apply for a spot on the Fastest<br />

Growing Companies list, businesses had<br />

to earn at least $350,000 annually and<br />

were ranked based on the percentage<br />

increase in revenue experienced from<br />

2005 to 2007. Companies submitted tax<br />

forms or audit statements to Honkamp<br />

Krueger & Co., which tabulated the results.<br />

The Corridor Business Journal began the list<br />

in 2008, when the now-closed Asoyia<br />

ranked first with 856 percent growth. In<br />

2009, Bochner Chocolates was ranked No.<br />

1 with 427 percent growth.<br />

The top 15 companies on the list were<br />

recognized at a breakfast May 25 at the<br />

Cedar Rapids Marriott. Mr. Cardella attributed<br />

his company’s success to his workforce.<br />

“The spirit of my team, which I’m sure<br />

is the spirit of everyone’s in this room, is<br />

that they’re extremely hard working, they<br />

put in hours that you couldn’t ask anyone<br />

to put in, because that’s how they feel<br />

about the company,” he said.<br />

He wants that enthusiasm to carry over<br />

to management.<br />

“When I’m hiring for our management<br />

team, the first thing I look for is do they<br />

have passion, I look for fire in the belly,”<br />

he said. “I want people who feel from<br />

down here (pointing at stomach) not from<br />



‘A fire in the belly’<br />

FOCUS:<br />



Featuring the CBJ List<br />

of Fastest Growing<br />

Companies<br />


up here (pointing at head).”<br />

Additional awards<br />

Cardella & Associates began opening call<br />

centers in Iowa in 2007 and has been racking<br />

up the awards during the past few<br />

Optimism increases<br />

The Corridor Poll finds<br />

positive signs about the<br />

local economy.<br />

Another award<br />

Founders of Iowa City startup<br />

J&J Solutions named<br />

Entrepreneurs of the Year.<br />

years. It was named the “Best in Class Call<br />

Center” last year and founder Mr. Cardella<br />

was recently named first runner-up for<br />

Call Center Leader of the Year award by<br />

the International Quality and Productivity<br />

Center, (IQPC) an industry organization.<br />

“The interesting thing about that is<br />

IQPC had never awarded that to the vendor<br />

side of the business, typically those<br />

have only gone to companies with internal<br />

call centers; so we beat out companies like<br />

FedEx Latin America, Nikon, a couple<br />

major insurance companies, we beat out<br />

some major talent,” Mr. Cardella said. “We<br />

attribute that to how we treat our clients<br />

and how we conduct our business.”<br />

Bradshaw begins at<br />

airport June 28<br />

By John Kenyon<br />

May 31 - June 6, 20<strong>10</strong><br />


Expanding<br />

air service<br />

top priority<br />

for director<br />

Expanding air service, addressing the perception<br />

of high fares and marketing what it<br />

has to offer are among the first tasks for<br />

Tim Bradshaw, the new airport director for<br />

The Eastern Iowa Airport.<br />

“I intend to meet with our business<br />

partners in the community,” he said. “To<br />

show them what we can accomplish, and<br />

work with them to get the service they want<br />

and meet their business needs.”<br />

Mr. Bradshaw was named last week and<br />

will start on June 28. He replaces Dan<br />

Mann, who left in late January after<br />

announcing his resignation at the end of<br />

2009. Mr. Bradshaw is currently the deputy<br />

executive director and chief operating officer<br />

for the Louisville Regional Airport<br />

Authority in Louisville, Ky.<br />

He will earn $141,086 annually, which<br />

is the same salary that Mr. Mann was earning<br />

when he left.<br />

He said air service is the most-talked<br />

about aspect of every airport, and that The<br />

Eastern Iowa Airport has a good foundation<br />

there. Still, there is room for expansion,<br />

he said, noting that an analysis of the<br />

final destination for travelers departing<br />

from Cedar Rapids supports the idea that<br />

some direct flights could be added.<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

Fastest Growing Companies 20<strong>10</strong><br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 07-09)<br />


1 Thomas L. Cardella & Associates Cedar Rapids 919<br />

2 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 177<br />

3 SecurityCoverage Cedar Rapids 168<br />

4 AES Corp./AE Systems Corp. Cedar Rapids 138<br />

5 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 126<br />

6 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 123<br />

7 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 75<br />

8 Service Master Avenue<br />

of the Saints Marion 67<br />

9 Expense Reduction Analysts Inc. Hiawatha 66<br />

<strong>10</strong> Involta LLC Cedar Rapids 60<br />

11 Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 35<br />

12 Innomatix LLC Iowa City 31<br />

13 TMone Iowa City 28<br />

14 RuffaloCody Cedar Rapids 26<br />

15 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 25<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

French-speaking agents, and is aiming to open a satellite<br />

office later this summer in Denver.<br />

As Mr. Cardella spoke with the CBJ in March, TLC & Associates<br />

was also preparing to announce a contract with a home warranty<br />

company that will bring 75-<strong>10</strong>0 additional jobs into Iowa.<br />

He said the company is looking at expanding one existing Iowa<br />

location, and has been in conversations with economic development<br />

leaders in Kentucky and West Virginia about opening<br />

customer contact centers in areas of high unemployment.<br />

Having an experienced team has lowered the challenge factor<br />

of executing on TLC’s strategic plan, Mr. Cardella said, noting<br />

that some members of its core management team “have been<br />

together for 20 years now.” But the company has also had to<br />

work harder for growth because the market isn’t growing as fast.<br />

TLC has focused on providing customers with accountability<br />

and value, Mr. Cardella said, and has benefited from<br />

strong word-of-mouth advertising among prospective clients.<br />

Mr. Cardella doesn’t see TLC’s run ending anytime soon.<br />

Because it has no outside investors, it’s under no timetable to<br />

sell out, and Mr. Cardella says he likes the people part of the<br />

business. He has praise both for the company’s older workers,<br />

some of whom are in their 60s and 70s, and for the new<br />

contingent of high school students that the company brought<br />

in for evening work last year. He’s also getting to know more<br />

international employees.<br />

“Every day is different,” he said. “It’s a people-based industry<br />

and I get to meet people all over the U.S. and the world, so I<br />

learn different perspectives from knowing those people.”<br />

– Dave DeWitte<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 15

2011’S FASTE<br />

MediRevv CEO Chris Klitgaard in his Coralville office earlier this year.<br />

MediRevv<br />

(Precision Revenue Strategies)<br />

Based in Coralville<br />

Established in 2007<br />

292.2% growth (5 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“Coming in at No. 1 on the list with 292 percent growth is Precision<br />

Revenue Strategies (PRS), a Coralville-based health care revenue cycle<br />

company. Basically, PRS takes the outstanding bills that patients<br />

aren’t paying their doctors or hospitals and works with the patients<br />

to get those bills paid.<br />

“We are strictly focused on helping providers with insurance receivables<br />

or insurance claims that have gone unpaid,” said President<br />

Chris Klitgaard. “What happens a lot of times is providers, hospitals<br />

or physician groups, can’t staff <strong>10</strong>0 percent of that volume that<br />

comes through. What inevitably occurs is that there are a certain<br />

percentage of their claims, whether it’s 5-20 percent, that they can<br />

just never touch.”<br />

Most company leaders will credit their employees with the business’<br />

success. For PRS, its employees are the mainstay of the company.<br />

“There are two or three things that we sell everyday here; first is<br />

our people,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “Ninety percent of our people have<br />

college degrees. And while that in and of itself isn’t necessarily the<br />

end all be all, we’re trying to get a more articulate, more<br />

professional, more analytical person who can understand<br />

how insurance companies work, such that they can take<br />

the benefits a patient has, and explain to a patient when<br />

we call to ask them for their balance owed.”<br />

Workers are such an important part of the equation<br />

at PRS, the employee culture manual is based off Tony<br />

Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness,” which outlines<br />

Zappos’ model for improving profits by improving<br />

corporate culture. Last year, when employees asked for<br />

more paid time off, Mr. Klitgaard doubled it. When they<br />

requested an employee shower to rinse off following<br />

lunchtime workouts, he declined, only because there is<br />

no room for one in the facility.<br />

The method seems to work. PRS started in 2007 with<br />

six employees. Now it has 70. The company has yet to<br />

advertise for a job opening because every hire has been<br />

generated by employees recommending the company to<br />

friends and family.<br />

Part of PRS’ competitive edge also comes from its<br />

willingness to outline its costs to clients.<br />

“When we go price out on a deal or bid out a deal or<br />

provide an estimate, starting from the financial piece, we<br />

show our cost model to these providers so they know exactly<br />

what they’re paying for,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “That’s<br />

something that a lot of people in this [industry] simply<br />

don’t do. It’s usually a shell game and that used to frustrate<br />

me so bad.”<br />

Mr. Klitgaard has high hopes for PRS looking forward.<br />

“We’re a little over a $4 million company now,” he<br />

said. “We’d like to be a $50 or $60 million company in<br />

<strong>10</strong> years. That would put us as one of the larger companies<br />

in this space. Not the largest, but the top 30 percent,<br />

top 40 percent.”<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Things began to change quickly for Precision Revenue<br />

Strategies after it was named the Corridor’s Fastest<br />

Growing Company in 2011. That July, the company rebranded,<br />

changing its name to MediRevv.<br />

The name reflects the company’s market in medical<br />

revenue, while the two Vs represent a revved-up engine,<br />

CEO Chris Klitgaard said.<br />

In 2012, business “started booming,” and MediRevv<br />

added more employees, Mr. Klitgaard said. That September,<br />

the company moved its operations from its home at<br />

the corner of Highway 965 and Oakdale Boulevard to<br />

its current location a half mile away, at 2600 University<br />

Parkway.<br />

“We needed a big footprint and there weren’t a lot<br />

of options,” he said. “We wanted to stay in the Iowa<br />

16 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

Pictured above are employees from Precision Revenue Strategies, which ranked first in the 2011 Fastest Growning Compaies list. The top 20 companies<br />

were honored at the Fastest Growing Companies breakfast May 24.<br />

FaSTeST continues on page 4<br />

COraLviLLe continues on page 16<br />

PAGE 3<br />

PAGE 15<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s<br />

$1.50 Cedar rapids/iowa City Corridor’s independent loCally owned Business weekly May 30 - June 5, 2011<br />

john richard<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

gigi@corridorbusiness.com<br />

It’s as easy as A, B, C.<br />

Readers of the Corridor Business Journal<br />

encounter a lot of acronyms and industry<br />

terms in their weekly issues. Phrases such<br />

as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) are fairly<br />

easy to understand.<br />

Talk like, “Internet retailer of ratchet<br />

straps” starts to become a little more complicated<br />

when reading about companies<br />

such as Clickstop. It took awhile to under-<br />

COrriDOr<br />

Precision Revenue Strategies No. 1 on list<br />

stand the concept of “rugged tablet PCs”<br />

Coralville-based<br />

that Mobile Demand sells. Now, most<br />

people know about, or even own, tablets.<br />

company is a UI<br />

There’s a bit of a learning curve. But<br />

that’s the price, or rather, benefit of be-<br />

spinoff, of sorts<br />

coming versed in the Corridor’s most innovative<br />

and fastest growing companies.<br />

Twenty of those companies were celebrated<br />

May 24 at the Coralville Marriott,<br />

during the 2011 Fastest Growing Companies<br />

breakfast hosted by the CBJ.<br />

Within this issue, the CBJ unveils the<br />

top 20 Fastest Growing Companies for<br />

the year. To earn a spot on the list, businesses<br />

had to meet a number of criteria.<br />

First, companies had to earn at least<br />

$350,000 annually. Those companies<br />

then submitted three years of tax forms<br />

or audit statements to Honkamp Krueger<br />

& Co., a Hiawatha-based accounting<br />

firm, which independently tabulated the<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

results. The winners were selected based<br />

on their growth during the previous<br />

three years.<br />

The list was started in 2008, when the<br />

now-closed soybean-oil-producer Asoyia<br />

ranked first with 856 percent growth.<br />

Bochner Chocolates was ranked No. 1 in<br />

2009, with 427 percent of growth.<br />

Interesting trends surfaced in this<br />

FOCUS:<br />

Fastest<br />

Companies<br />

Featuring the CBJ List of<br />

Fastest Companies<br />


Property buys<br />

raise ire in<br />

residents,<br />

officials<br />

Coralville council<br />

calls them necessary<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

gigi@corridorbusiness.com<br />

Area residents during the past two weeks<br />

witnessed first-hand the process of government,<br />

as well as media, when reports<br />

surfaced about three property purchases<br />

in and near Coralville.<br />

The Coralville City Council published<br />

its meeting agenda on May 20, prompting<br />

media reports about three property purchases<br />

on the docket.<br />

First up was the purchase of 723 Edgewater<br />

Dr., the last residence remaining<br />

along the Iowa River near the Coralville<br />

Marriott. The city has been buying out<br />

the properties since the flood of 2008. According<br />

to federal flood regulations, the<br />

land cannot be redeveloped.<br />

“We can’t develop it because we used<br />

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management<br />

Agency) funds to buy it; it will be all open<br />

space,” said Coralville Councilor John<br />

Lundell.<br />

Mark Brown, owner of 723 Edgewater<br />

Dr., his father’s home, has been the lone<br />

holdout during the buyout process. The<br />

other homes have been demolished and<br />

crews have raised the road to serve as an<br />

earthen berm during future flooding. Additional<br />

work this summer will add additional<br />

mitigation improvements to the<br />

On the go<br />

Clickstop President Tim<br />

Guenther shares the secrets<br />

of his company’s success.<br />

Noodle house open<br />

Noodles & Co. opens location<br />

in Coralville.<br />

Fastest Growing Companies 2011<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 08-<strong>10</strong>)<br />


1 Precision Revenue Strategies Inc. Coralville 292.2<br />

2 Health Solutions LLC Hiawatha 274.7<br />

3 Skywalk Group Cedar Rapids 212.1<br />

4 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 179.9<br />

5 MindFire Communications Inc. Cedar Rapids 127.6<br />

6 MobileDemand Hiawatha 119.4<br />

7 Thomas L. Cardella & Associates Cedar Rapids <strong>10</strong>5.0<br />

8 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 87.5<br />

9 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha 84.6<br />

<strong>10</strong> Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 73.7<br />

11 HR Green Cedar Rapids 71.9<br />

12 Children’s Center for Therapy Iowa City 54.6<br />

13 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 49.7<br />

14 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 47.8<br />

15 TMone Iowa City 43.7<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

City-Coralville area.”<br />

By September 2014, the company had grown so much<br />

that it needed more space, and built a second building<br />

next door. The company leases its buildings and may be<br />

looking for more space in the future as it continues to<br />

expand, Mr. Klitgaard said.<br />

MediRevv had 70 employees when it was named the<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company in 2011; it now employs<br />

300 more, and Mr. Klitgaard expects that number<br />

to hit 425 by the middle of this year.<br />

As word of MediRevv’s success has spread, so has its<br />

business. The company had about a dozen contracts in<br />

2011; it now has 55 contracts nationwide. Keeping up<br />

with changes in health care, MediRevv launched a new<br />

coding division launched four years ago and also has a<br />

full business outsourcing division.<br />

Its continual reinvention and growth has kept the company<br />

in the Corridor’s Fastest Growing ranks. It marked<br />

its fifth-consecutive appearance on the list this year with a<br />

No. 24 ranking and 42.3 percent revenue growth.<br />

“We have to innovate with the constant evolution of<br />

the industry,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “Our most important<br />

aspects are partners, people and performance.”<br />

- Angela Holmes<br />

Hanna Plumbing & Heating<br />

would like to congratulate<br />

all the fastest growing<br />

companies honored by the<br />

Corridor Business Journal!<br />

319.377.2809<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 17

2012’S FASTE<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions’ staff pose with the company’s previous <strong>FGC</strong> trophies in their Hiawatha facility. CEO Phil Rezin is shown at center, in a red shirt.<br />

2012 & 2014’s Fastest<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc.<br />

Located in Hiawatha<br />

Established in 2005<br />

419.8% growth (5 times on list)<br />

What we wrote in 2014:<br />

“No other company has claimed the Corridor’s Business Journal’s<br />

Fastest Growing Company title twice, let alone twice in three<br />

years – the new mark recorded by Midwest Microwave Solutions.<br />

With revenue growth of 419.8 percent from 2011-2013, MMS<br />

claimed top honors at the 2014 growth recognition event May<br />

20 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott, edging out Premier Staffing Inc.<br />

“Our continued growth is based more on name recognition<br />

because we’ve had great success in the field,” President Phil<br />

Rezin told the CBJ. “Midwest Microwave Solutions has products<br />

deployed worldwide, and the products we’ve had in Afghanistan<br />

the last three years have operated flawlessly.”<br />

The company was in first place in 2012 with growth of more<br />

than 516 percent and in fourth place in 2013 with growth of<br />

176.2 percent.<br />

Products from Midwest Microwave Solutions allow custom-<br />

ers to scan any communication band in existence, from microwave<br />

data links to garage door opener signals, Mr. Rezin<br />

said. They are mainstay tools used in gathering signal information<br />

to detect and analyze threats.<br />

“Knowing that our product has saved lives by intercepting<br />

a signal – that makes you feel good,” Mr. Rezin said.<br />

The company, which started with only three products,<br />

continued to add them in 2013, bringing the total in its catalog<br />

to 41. Many of the newer products modify previous designs<br />

to extend the frequency range and add capabilities.<br />

To the uninformed eye, the products appear as metal boxes<br />

with heat sinks, cable ports and an occasional switch or<br />

indicator light. Most of them are integrated by government<br />

customers into larger systems that monitor and analyze signals<br />

for threats. Nearly all of the orders are from government<br />

suppliers or original equipment manufacturers, and none of<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions’ products are exported.<br />

MMS currently employs 23 in its <strong>10</strong>,000-square-foot facility.<br />

The staff is a carefully hand-picked team of experienced radio<br />

frequency engineers and other specialists, Mr. Rezin said,<br />

calling them “the cream of the crop.”<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions this year returned to the CBJ’s<br />

Fastest Growing Companies list for the fifth time in six years,<br />

coming in at No. 9 with <strong>10</strong>9 percent growth.<br />

The company’s appearance streak might have been a per-<br />

18 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

Employees of Midwest Microwave Solutions are shown at their office in Hiawatha. The company produces<br />

high performance receiver products for government and large corporation clients. The company<br />

attributes its growth to its quick turnaround time for production and its highly-skilled workforce.<br />

FAStESt continues on page 4<br />

Hiawatha • Founded: 2005<br />

www.mms-rf.com • 1st year on the list<br />

PAGE 3<br />

PAGE 7<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2012<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 09-11)<br />

$1.50 an independent locally owned business weekly in iowa’s creative corridor May 28 - June 3, 2012<br />


MMS: Radioing in at No. 1<br />

Midwest Microwave<br />

Solutions debuts at<br />

No. 1 on list<br />

By Gigi Wood<br />

gigi@corridorbusiness.com<br />

If they tell you what they produce, they<br />

would have to kill you.<br />

That may be an exaggeration, but Midwest<br />

Microwave Solutions’ products are<br />

very James Bond. Simply put, Midwest<br />

Microwave produces highly-sophisticated<br />

radios for the government and large corporations.<br />

Since their start in 2005, the<br />

company has grown from two employees<br />

to 16 and is so busy, it has to turn down<br />

orders for new designs from customers.<br />

Midwest Microwave was honored May<br />

22 at the Corridor Business Journal’s 2012<br />

Fastest Growing Companies award breakfast<br />

for coming in first place, with 516.1<br />

percent growth, amongst this year’s top<br />

25 fastest growing companies.<br />

This issue of the CBJ is dedicated to the<br />

top 25 Fastest Growing Companies of the<br />

year, which were unveiled last week at the<br />

Coralville Marriott.<br />

To earn a spot on the list, businesses<br />

had to meet a number of criteria. First,<br />

companies had to earn at least $350,000<br />

from 2009-2011. Those companies then<br />

submitted three years of tax forms or audit<br />

statements to Honkamp Krueger & Co., a<br />

Hiawatha-based accounting firm, which<br />

independently tabulated the results. The<br />

winners were selected based on their<br />

growth rate.<br />

john richard<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

Three companies, Clickstop, TMone<br />

and Geonetric, have now appeared on the<br />

list four times since it began in 2008.<br />

Appearing on the list for the first time,<br />

Midwest Microwave is a privately-held<br />

small business engaged in design and<br />

manufacture of high performance receiver<br />

products. Those receiver products give<br />

customers the capability of gathering intelligence<br />

about signals that are present in<br />

the airwaves.<br />

FOCUS:<br />

Fastest growing<br />

companies<br />

Featuring the CBJ List<br />

of Fastest Growing<br />

Companies<br />

#1<br />

516.1%<br />

growth<br />

Midwest Microwave<br />

Solutions<br />

Keep growing<br />

Involta CEO Bruce Lehrman<br />

named the Entrepreneur of<br />

the year.<br />

First pitch<br />

Entrepreneurs pitch their<br />

ideas at Pitch & Grow event.<br />


1 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 516.1<br />

2 MobileDemand Hiawatha 421.4<br />

3 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 199.3<br />

4 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 189.1<br />

5 Lattice Communications Inc. Fairfax 186.3<br />

6 Genova Technologies Inc. Cedar Rapids 146.4<br />

7 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 146.2<br />

8 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha 142.3<br />

9 Health Solutions LLC Hiawatha 131<br />

<strong>10</strong> Tri County Enterprises Inc. Cedar Rapids 1<strong>10</strong><br />

11 TMone Iowa City <strong>10</strong>3<br />

12 MindFire Communications Inc. Cedar Rapids 89<br />

13 Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 82.4<br />

14 World Trend Financial Iowa City 79.4<br />

15 Circle Computer Resources Inc. Cedar Rapids 70.6<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

fect six-for-six if it had entered the competition in 2016,<br />

said President Phil Rezin, but a 2015 acquisition by aerospace<br />

and electronics conglomerate HEICO led MMS to<br />

temporarily keep a low profile.<br />

HEICO is a $1.3 billion company based in Florida with<br />

products found on large commercial aircraft, regional and<br />

business aircraft and a variety of military systems. MMS<br />

joined HEICO’s Electronic Technologies Group, which<br />

counts nearly 19 facilities around the country and nearly<br />

1,800 employees, according to the company.<br />

HEICO acquired 80.1 percent of MMS in the deal, but<br />

other than some accounting procedures, not much has<br />

changed operationally, according to Mr. Rezin.<br />

“It’s going great – they’re a hands-off kind of company.<br />

I’m still the president and have full control over running<br />

the business,” Mr. Rezin said, adding that the only<br />

substantial difference is that “we’re now a large corporation,<br />

rather than a small business.”<br />

MMS has seen significant growth in recent years, as<br />

some of its newest designs have been accepted into larger<br />

defense programs with the Army and Marines, groups<br />

typically outside of the company’s traditional market<br />

space. It also benefited from the addition of transmitters<br />

to its lineup in 2014 – a move that the company “resisted<br />

for a while” to focus on its core technologies, but has since<br />

MMS PAGE 22<br />

2015<br />

2014<br />

2013<br />

2012<br />

2008<br />

Growing<br />

with the Corridor<br />

over the past<br />

<strong>10</strong> years!<br />

THANK YOU!<br />

www.worldtrendfps.com<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 19

2013’S FASTE<br />

Lattice Communications Owner and President Bruce Leventhal, accepting the Fastest Growing Companies award in 2013.<br />

Lattice Communications<br />

Based in Fairfax<br />

Established 2004<br />

325.2% growth (2 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“Fairfax-based Lattice came in at No. 1 on the Fastest Growing<br />

Companies list with 325 percent growth between 20<strong>10</strong>-2012. Last<br />

year, Lattice debuted on the Fastest Growing Companies list with<br />

186 percent growth and had 35 employees. The company now employs<br />

50 people.<br />

“It really is a nice moment to take a breath and enjoy our accomplishments,”<br />

said Bruce Leventhal, Lattice owner and president. “It’s<br />

very rare that we probably all take a minute to sit back and relax.”<br />

With more than 20 locations across the United States, Lattice<br />

Communications remains the largest stocking dealer of telecommunications<br />

products. The company deals in new and refurbished telecommunications<br />

shelters, cabinets, power equipment fire suppression,<br />

HVAC and generators with new monitoring systems to ensure<br />

equipment reliability.<br />

The company also produces its own line of custom concrete shelters<br />

to meet its clients’ project needs.<br />

Mr. Leventhal addressed his staff at the Fastest Growing Companies<br />

event, noting their talent and persistence have allowed the<br />

company to grow.<br />

20 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary<br />

“I’m incredibly lucky to have you guys alongside. I<br />

wanted to take a minute to say thank you to you guys for<br />

the craziness and your hard work,” he said.<br />

The growth has been consistent over the past few<br />

years, with Lattice being named No. 5 on the list in 2012.<br />

In the midst of a challenging economic climate, Lattice<br />

still managed to triple its revenue and double its workforce<br />

in 2011.<br />

One of the reasons for the quick growth is the fiber<br />

optic cable installation recently added by the company.<br />

Lattice offers aerial, underground and indoor fiber installation<br />

to help increase bandwidth, speed up connectivity<br />

and reduce costs. It also provides its own in-house<br />

turn-key construction services across the U.S. including<br />

civil, concrete, electrical and project management.<br />

“We’re a very entrepreneurial company,” said Kendra<br />

Fish, Lattice’s director of marketing. “Our growth is really<br />

dependent on our customer’s needs and we challenge<br />

ourselves to go above and beyond for them.”<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Despite making the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list<br />

twice, Lattice Communications didn’t survive.<br />

The road ended somewhat abruptly in 2015 when<br />

the company sustained more than $2.5 million in flood<br />

damage to its property at 98 W. Cemetery Road in Fairfax.<br />

That triggered a series of financial events that led to a<br />

lender-directed sale of the company’s assets.

PAGE 29<br />

PAGE 3<br />


Bruce Leventhal, owner and president of Lattice Communications, speaks during the Corridor Business Journals Fastest Growing Companies<br />

event May 21. Lattice, based in Fairfax, was No. 1 on the list.<br />


Fairfax I Founded: 2004<br />

www.latticebiz.com I 2nd time on the list<br />

PAGE 20<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2013<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from <strong>10</strong>-12)<br />

Farmers Market<br />

Markets open<br />

across Eastern Iowa.<br />

25 Corridor companies<br />

awarded for growth<br />

By Pat Shaver<br />

pat@corridorbusiness.com<br />

CORALVILLE—Lattice Communications has grown more<br />

than any other local company.<br />

Fairfax-based Lattice was recognized for coming in at<br />

No. 1 on the Fastest Growing Companies list the Corridor<br />

Business Journal’s event with the same name on May 21.<br />

The company reported 325 percent growth between<br />

20<strong>10</strong>-2012. Last year, Lattice debuted on the Fastest Growing<br />

Companies list with 186 percent growth and had 35<br />

employees. Lattice now employs 50 people.<br />

“It really is a nice moment to take a breath and enjoy<br />

our accomplishments,” said Bruce Leventhal, Lattice<br />

owner and president. “It’s very rare that we probably all<br />

take a minute to sit back and relax.”<br />

With more than 20 locations across the United States,<br />

Lattice Communications remains the largest stocking<br />

dealer of telecommunications products.<br />

Lattice is a dealer of new and refurbished telecommunications<br />

shelters, cabinets, power equipment including<br />

rectifiers, power supply, fire suppression and HVAC and<br />

generators with new monitoring systems to ensure equipment<br />

reliability. The company produces its own line of<br />

custom concrete shelters to meet its client’s projects demanding<br />

needs.<br />

The Fastest Growing Companies event took place at the<br />

Coralville Marriott and honored the 25 companies in the<br />

Corridor. Companies had to earn at least $350,000 annually<br />

and were ranked based on the percentage increase in<br />

revenue experienced from 20<strong>10</strong>-2012.<br />

Of the 25 companies, 13 were new to the Fastest Growing<br />

Companies list. This is the sixth year the Corridor Business<br />

Journal has compiled the list.<br />

Mr. Leventhal addressed his staff, noting their talent<br />

and persistence have allowed the company to grow.<br />

“I’m incredibly lucky to have you guys alongside. I<br />

wanted to take a minute to say thank you to you guys for<br />

the craziness and your hard work,” he said.<br />

The growth has been consistent over the past few years<br />

and last year Lattice was named the fifth on the list. In the<br />

midst of a challenging economic climate, Lattice tripled<br />

revenue and doubled its workforce in 2011.<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

FOCUS:<br />




Featuring the CBJ List of<br />

Fastest Growing Companies<br />

Dawn Ainger<br />

Genova CEO<br />

grows IT business.<br />

Lattice Communications No. 1<br />


#1<br />

325.2%<br />

growth<br />

Lattice Communications<br />

Fastest<br />

Growing<br />

Companies<br />

Reception<br />

Check out the<br />

event photos<br />


1 Lattice Communications Inc. Fairfax 325.2<br />

2 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 224.8<br />

3 MD Molding Wayland 185<br />

4 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 176.2<br />

5 Genova Technologies Inc. Cedar Rapids 171.4<br />

6 Select Structural Engineering Cedar Rapids 139.3<br />

7 MobileDemand Hiawatha 139.2<br />

8 Involta Cedar Rapids <strong>10</strong>9.3<br />

9 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha <strong>10</strong>8.6<br />

<strong>10</strong> MediRevv Inc. Coralville 96.8<br />

11 Circle Computer Resources Inc. Cedar Rapids 95.2<br />

12 ESP International Cedar Rapids 88.7<br />

13 LimoLink Marion 87.9<br />

14 Cedar Ridge Vineyards Swisher 86.5<br />

15 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 85.1<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

Although many jobs were lost, not all was dark after<br />

the closing. Mr. Leventhal noted in a 2015 interview that<br />

several managers and employees started their own companies<br />

after the wind-down of Lattice Communications.<br />

They included Dennis Bruce, who relaunched a former<br />

company, BDC Group, making precast concrete shelters<br />

for telecommunications gear, and Al Meyer, who started<br />

Corridor Network Construction, a fiber optic network design<br />

and construction firm.<br />

Colin Brunner started CBTel, a supplier of telecommunications<br />

shelters, towers and generators in Wyoming,<br />

and Jared Nelson started Core Electric, a provider of telecommunications<br />

and electrical installation services.<br />

Mr. Leventhal said the startup trend that followed the<br />

closing reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of the company’s<br />

workforce.<br />

One of the first employees of Lattice, Carter Kramer,<br />

had gone on to start his own company, Cellsite Solutions,<br />

almost five years before Lattice closed. Mr. Kramer ended<br />

up buying most of the assets of Lattice, with which Cellsite<br />

competed in some markets.<br />

Mr. Leventhal moved following the closure to the Chicago<br />

area, where he has worked in consulting with private<br />

equity firms and startups to mid-market organizations.<br />

The former Lattice Communications property became<br />

home to a traffic control equipment company, Advanced<br />

Traffic Control.<br />

– Dave DeWitte<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 21

2014’S FASTE<br />

A look inside Midwest Microwave Solution’s Hiawatha facility earlier this year.<br />

2012 & 2014’s Fastest<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc.<br />

Located in Hiawatha<br />

Established in 2005<br />

419.8% growth (5 times on the list)<br />

MMS PAGE 19<br />

become “a source of great growth,” Mr. Rezin said.<br />

The company now counts 76 products in its catalog, many of<br />

which have been developed based on customers’ requests for<br />

enhanced capabilities.<br />

“When you have less men on the ground, you need more<br />

ears,” Mr. Rezin said. “I don’t see a slowdown in our markets.”<br />

Despite continual growth, MMS hasn’t increased its footprint<br />

much. The company doubled the size of its shop in 2012, and<br />

this year remodeled around 1,000 square feet to provide executive<br />

offices and more space for engineers, but has only added<br />

about five employees since its 2014 award. Mr. Rezin chalks that<br />

up to the company’s efficient staff and relatively flat hierarchy.<br />

“I was used to being on the floor with our engineers,” he<br />

said. “Still not sure if I like the whole office thing.”<br />

– Adam Moore<br />

The company doubled<br />

the size of its shop<br />

in 2012, and this year<br />

remodeled around<br />

1,000 square feet to<br />

provide executive<br />

offices and more space<br />

for engineers, but has<br />

only added about five<br />

employees since its<br />

2014 award.<br />

22 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

Nate Kaeding talks<br />

about kicking up biz.<br />

PAGE 31<br />


Phil Rezin, CEO of Midwest Microwave Solutions, talked about pitfalls to avoid when you’re technologists starting a business venture as he accepted the<br />

2014 Fastest Growing Companies Award on May 20. He urged technologists who lack a broad foundation in business to get help from experienced professionals<br />

outside the company, and to be sure not to neglect their own quality of life.<br />


Eco Lips’ Shriver takes<br />

top award.<br />

PAGE 3<br />

Hiawatha I Founded: 2005<br />

www.mms-rf.com I 3rd time on the list<br />

CBJ spotlights the top 25.<br />

PAGE 5<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s<br />

EntreFest<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions repeats<br />

Hiawatha company takes<br />

Fastest Growing honors again<br />

By Dave DeWitte<br />

dave@corridorbusiness.com<br />

CEDAR RAPIDS—No other company has claimed the<br />

Corridor’s Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Company<br />

title twice, let alone twice in three years – the new mark<br />

recorded by Midwest Microwave Solutions.<br />

With revenue growth of 419.8 percent from 2011-<br />

2013, Midwest Microwave Solutions claimed top honors<br />

at the 2014 growth recognition event May 20 at the Cedar<br />

Rapids Marriott, edging out Premier Staffing Inc. with<br />

418.3 percent growth.<br />

“Our continued growth is based more on name recognition<br />

because we’ve had great success in the field,” CEO<br />

Phil Rezin said in an interview. “Midwest Microwave Solutions<br />

has products deployed worldwide, and the products<br />

we’ve had in Afghanistan the last three years have<br />

operated flawlessly.”<br />

The company was in first place in 2012 with growth of<br />

more than 516 percent and in fourth place in 2013 with<br />

growth of 176.2 percent.<br />

A total of 25 companies were honored at the May<br />

20 event based on confidential evaluations provided by<br />

Honkamp Krueger of tax return information submitted<br />

by the companies. The list included four – World Trend<br />

Financial, Ready Wireless, Circle Computer Resources<br />

and Involta – that have made the list four times.<br />

One of the 2014 Fastest Growing winners, TrueNorth<br />

Companies, was the first to be honored by the Corridor<br />

Business Journal in three categories – Largest Privately<br />

Held Companies, Fastest Growing Companies and Coolest<br />

Places to Work.<br />

Rapid growth has characterized Midwest Microwave<br />

Solutions since its inception in 2005 as a radio frequency<br />

consulting and prototyping company by Mr. Rezin and<br />

Steve Wilson. They began producing a line of radio frequency<br />

tuners and digitizers.<br />

Mike Horn, a digital signal processer expert, joined<br />

the company in 2009, and Midwest Microwave Solutions<br />


opened a small shop with 1,400 square feet of space in<br />

Hiawatha.<br />

Products from Midwest Microwave Solutions allow<br />

customers to scan any communication band in existence,<br />

from microwave data links to garage door opener signals,<br />

Mr. Rezin said. They are mainstay tools used in gathering<br />

signal information to detect and analyze threats.<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

FOCUS:<br />



Featuring the CBJ List of<br />

Fastest Growing Companies<br />

Entrepreneur<br />

of the Year<br />

#1<br />

419.8%<br />

growth<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions<br />

Fastest<br />

Growing<br />

Companies<br />

Fastest Growing Companies 2014<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 11-13)<br />



1 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 419.8<br />

2 Premier Staffing Inc. Hiawatha 418.3<br />

3 MD Molding Wayland 351.7<br />

4 Ahmann Properties Hiawatha 219.2<br />

5 MediRevv Inc. Coralville 191.5<br />

6 Infinity Contact Inc. Cedar Rapids 136.4<br />

7 Health Solutions LLC Cedar Rapids 118.7<br />

8 Involta Cedar Rapids 1<strong>10</strong>.5<br />

9 Bazooka Farmstar Inc. Washington <strong>10</strong>6.6<br />

<strong>10</strong> IMS Branded Solutions Marion 94.6<br />

11 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 92.7<br />

12 Neumiller Electric Iowa City 80.9<br />

13 Innovative Software Engineering LLC Coralville 79<br />

14 Eco Lips Cedar Rapids 76.7<br />

15 Ready Wireless LLC Hiawatha 71.3<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

Our goal is to provide you with the best professional staffing solutions.<br />

Job Seekers<br />

Employers<br />

Jobs<br />

www.premierstaffing.com<br />

319-730-3890 | 1905 N Center Point Rd. | Hiawatha, IA 52233<br />

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customerservice@premierstaffing.com<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 23

2015’S FASTE<br />

General Manager Aaron Verhorevoort and Founder Scott Ramspott stand inside Spotix’ new facility in North Liberty earlier this year.<br />

Spotix<br />

Based in North Liberty<br />

Established in 2011<br />

283.6% growth (3 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“Few companies in the Corridor have experienced the rapid<br />

growth of North Liberty-based Spotix Inc., which sells fireplaces,<br />

fire pits, grills and related accessories to consumers and<br />

retailers, and has seen its sales more than double since 2012.<br />

The fuel for the company’s combustion? Online sales.<br />

Named overall leader of the Corridor Business Journal’s<br />

2015 Fastest Growing Companies list in its first year being honored,<br />

Spotix achieved nearly 284 percent growth in revenue<br />

from the 2012 calendar year to the close of 2014, with virtually<br />

all of the company’s sales completed online.<br />

Company founder and president Scott Ramspott said less<br />

than 1 percent of Spotix’s sales take place in Iowa, despite<br />

noteworthy local projects such as the fire pits at Vesta, Backpocket<br />

Brewery and 30hop in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing.<br />

“We truly are an e-commerce based company,” said Mr.<br />

24 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary<br />

Ramspott. “We can pick up and move anywhere.”<br />

Spotix does have a showroom at its office in North Liberty,<br />

which also houses about 60 percent of the company’s product<br />

offerings. However, that addition, made in 2012, was installed<br />

primarily to appease distributors that require stores to have<br />

one to carry their products.<br />

The company’s strong web sales have prompted demand<br />

for additional employees, with plans in place to hire a web<br />

traffic specialist, a digital marketing specialist and another<br />

salesperson as soon as possible, Mr. Ramspott said.<br />

General Manager Aaron Verhorevoort said a frequent misconception<br />

exists in online retailing that unless someone is<br />

making a purchase through Amazon or a major national retailer,<br />

the operation presumably takes place in someone’s basement.<br />

“There’s definitely a lot more that goes into it,” Mr. Verhorevoort<br />

said. “It’s probably a pretty comparable set of challenges<br />

that come from a regular walk-in customer. They’re different,<br />

but at the end of the day, they’re just as hard to overcome.”<br />

Among those challenges is making the shopping experience<br />

as intuitive and efficient as possible. To accomplish that,<br />

Mr. Verhorevoort helped redesign the company’s website in<br />

order to minimize time-consuming email and phone commu-<br />


Joe Ahmann honored<br />

PAGE 3<br />


North Liberty I Founded: 2011<br />

www.spotix.com I First time on list<br />


Roundup of local, regional events<br />

PAGE 29<br />

Spotix Founder and President Scott Ramspott accepts his company’s fastest growing award during<br />

the May 19 awards breakfast, held at the Coralville Marriott.<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2015<br />

(Ranked by Percentage Revenue Increase from 12-14)<br />

Entrepreneur<br />

of the Year<br />

Spotix named<br />

fastest growing<br />

North Liberty retailer’s online strategy ignites growth<br />

By Chase Castle<br />

30hop in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing.<br />

chase@corridorbusiness.com<br />

“We truly are an e-commerce based<br />

company,” said Mr. Ramspott. “We can<br />

Few companies in the Corridor have experienced<br />

the rapid growth of North Liberty-<br />

Spotix does have a showroom at its of-<br />

pick up and move anywhere.”<br />

based Spotix Inc., which sells fireplaces, fire fice in North Liberty, which also houses<br />

pits, grills and related accessories to consumers<br />

and retailers, and has seen its sales uct offerings. However, that addition,<br />

about 60 percent of the company’s prod-<br />

more than double since 2012.<br />

made in 2012, was installed merely to<br />

The fuel for the company’s combustion?<br />

Online sales.<br />

have one to carry their products.<br />

appease distributors that require stores to<br />

Named overall leader of the Corridor “That’s the long and the short of it,” Mr.<br />

Business Journal’s 2015 Fastest Growing Ramspott said. “It came to fruition strictly<br />

Companies list<br />

so we could sell<br />

in its first year<br />

products online.”<br />

being honored,<br />

283.6% Those strong<br />

Spotix achieved #1 growth web sales have<br />

nearly 284 percent<br />

growth in<br />

mand for ad-<br />

prompted de-<br />

revenue from<br />

Spotix<br />

ditional employees,<br />

with<br />

the 2012 calendar<br />

year to the<br />

plans in place to<br />

close of 2014,<br />

hire a web traffic<br />

specialist, a<br />

with virtually all<br />

of the company’s sales completed online. digital marketing specialist and another<br />

salesperson as soon as possible, Mr.<br />

A total of 25 companies were honored<br />

at a May 19 awards breakfast, with rankings<br />

based on confidential tax return in-<br />

“So immediately, we have three posi-<br />

Ramspott said.<br />

formation submitted by the companies to tions we’d love to fill,” he said.<br />

accounting firm Honkamp Krueger & Co. Although the company emphasizes<br />

(See full list on page 6.)<br />

the need for technical savvy in its hires,<br />

Company founder and president Scott Mr. Ramspott said employee chemistry<br />

and company culture are equally<br />

Ramspott said less than 1 percent of<br />

Spotix’s sales take place in Iowa, despite important – not just to Spotix, but to<br />

noteworthy local projects such as the fire<br />

pits at Vesta, Backpocket Brewery and<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />


See the rankings on page 6<br />

Iowa Summer Travel<br />

Also inside this edition:<br />

Marco, Inc.<br />

Streb Construction Company and<br />

E&F Paving, LLC Celebrating 50 <strong>Years</strong><br />

The Greater Iowa City Home Builders<br />

Association Builders News<br />


1 Spotix North Liberty 283.6<br />

2 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 239.4<br />

3 Bazooka Farmstar Inc. Washington 237.4<br />

4 Premier Staffing Inc. Hiawatha 205.3<br />

5 MediRevv Inc. Coralville 114.4<br />

6 World Class Graphics & Displays Cedar Rapids <strong>10</strong>2.7<br />

7 Ahmann Properties Hiawatha 91.7<br />

8 Eco Lips Cedar Rapids 81.5<br />

9 Health Solutions LLC Cedar Rapids 71.8<br />

<strong>10</strong> Sedna Warehousing LLC Iowa City 69.5<br />

11 Fusion Architects Hiawatha 64.8<br />

12 Sedna Logistics LLC Iowa City 64.3<br />

13 TrueNorth Companies LLC Cedar Rapids 62.9<br />

14 Perfect Game Incorporated Cedar Rapids 60.9<br />

15 ProofreadingPal LLC Iowa City 56.4<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

Ahmann’s startup record hard to match<br />

Joe Ahmann, accepting Ahmann Properties’ <strong>FGC</strong> award in 2015.<br />

At the 2016 Fastest Growing Companies award ceremony, CBJ<br />

Publisher John Lohman remarked that “there ought to be a special<br />

Joe Ahmann Award,” for the individual starting the most companies<br />

to make the Fastest Growing list.<br />

No less than four companies started by Mr. Ahmann have landed<br />

a spot on the prestigious list. He started out in 1991 with his<br />

home design firm, Ahmann Design, and in 1994 launched Ahmann<br />

Properties to maintain and manage office space for his own company<br />

and others in Hiawatha.<br />

In 2005, Mr. Ahmann created Fusion Architects to handle larger<br />

projects requiring an architect’s stamp, and in 2008 started Compass<br />

Commercial Services to offer design-build construction.<br />

Mr. Ahmann was voted the CBJ’s Entrepreneur of the Year in<br />

2015. In 2016, Ahmann-owned businesses took four spots on the<br />

Fastest Growing list, with Fusion Architects ranking highest at No.<br />

6 with 133.5 percent growth.<br />

There’s no sitting still for Mr. Ahmann. He began 2017 by starting<br />

Pivot Real Estate, which offers sales and leasing. It seems to<br />

have a high likelihood of finding a place on the Fastest Growing<br />

Companies list.<br />

– Dave DeWitte<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 25

2016’S FASTE<br />

“The Corridor’s Fastest<br />

Growing list has been a<br />

goal of mine for years, but<br />

to be on the top of the list<br />

is more than I ever could<br />

have expected.”<br />

- Jason Hall, Owner of Moxie Solar<br />

Moxie Solar CEO Jason Hall, shown in a 2015 photo for the CBJ’s Entrepreneur <strong>10</strong>1 magazine.<br />

Moxie Solar<br />

Based in North Liberty<br />

Established in 2008<br />

536.27% growth (2 times on list)<br />

What we wrote then:<br />

“When Jason Hall started to grow weary of banking, he looked<br />

to the outdoors for inspiration to enrich his life and possibly<br />

his career. Nearly a decade later, the ensuing venture that’s become<br />

Moxie Solar has grown beyond his wildest expectations.<br />

The North Liberty-based installer of solar energy systems<br />

now has about 25 employees, many of whom were the focus of<br />

an acceptance speech Mr. Hall gave May 17 at the CBJ’s Fastest<br />

Growing Companies awards breakfast, where Moxie Solar took<br />

the title of the Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company for 2016.<br />

Moxie Solar recorded a year-over-year revenue increase of<br />

nearly 1<strong>10</strong> percent in 2015, and saw its revenues grow by a<br />

whopping 536 percent from 2013-2015.<br />

“The Corridor’s Fastest Growing list has been a goal of<br />

mine for years, but to be on the top of the list is more than I<br />

ever could have expected,” Mr. Hall said upon accepting the<br />

Fastest Growing Companies award.<br />

Despite a successful banking career – which included being<br />

the youngest bank president in Iowa when he assumed<br />

the role of market president with First American – Mr. Hall<br />

“bit the bullet” by founding Moxie’s predecessor, Greenhall<br />

Industries, in 2008.<br />

In the company’s first four years, it primarily did efficiency<br />

audits, helped businesses improve their energy efficiency<br />

through things like lighting and sealing upgrades, and helped<br />

facilitate rebates for customers from their utility providers.<br />

In 2012, however, Greenhall hit a pivotal point in its development.<br />

State lawmakers approved a solar income tax credit<br />

that year that would supplement an existing federal program.<br />

With federal tax credits in place to cover up to 30 percent of<br />

solar project costs, and the state offering to match more than<br />

half of the federal credits, Mr. Hall and his colleagues saw a<br />

clear opportunity.<br />

“At that point, we extinguished the old website and we focused<br />

on solar,” Mr. Hall recalled.<br />

The company already has several notable projects in its<br />

portfolio, including a solar array atop Johnson County’s<br />

multi-million dollar Secondary Roads Facility, which opened<br />

last year on Melrose Avenue in Iowa City. Other clients include<br />

Iowa Book in Iowa City and the Mason City Public Library.”<br />

26 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary



Members Only Tour<br />

June 3<br />

Affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders & Home Builders A sociation of Iowa<br />

teady job growth, affordable<br />

home prices,<br />

a tractive mortgage<br />

interest rates and pent-up<br />

demand wi l help the housing<br />

market continue a gradual<br />

upward trajectory in the year<br />

ahead, a cording to economists<br />

who participated in the<br />

NAHB Spring Construction<br />

Forecast Webinar.<br />

Single-Family Sector Leads<br />

Housing to Higher Ground<br />

S<br />

“Builders remain cautiously optimistic about market conditions,” factors that should make this year’s home sales the best in a decade:<br />

said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “2016 should be the first • Household formations are projected to accelerate. Betw en 2008<br />

year since the Great Rece sion in which the growth rate for singlefamily<br />

production exc eds that of multifamily. And we s single-<br />

formations than normal.<br />

and 2014, the slowdown resulted in 5.1 million fewer household<br />

family growth a celerating 2017 as the su ply chain mends and<br />

we can expand production.”<br />

• Purchase application show solid home sales that match demographics.<br />

Steady job growth has bolstered consumer confidence and<br />

rekindled housing demand. Nationa ly, payro l employment has<br />

• More owners are cu rent on their mortgages, with fewer defaults<br />

surpa sed its pre-rece sion peak by a modest margin; only a sma l<br />

and le s foreclosures.<br />

number of state stil lag behind those levels.<br />

Solid job gains include rising salaries and wages.<br />

• House prices are rising about 6% annua ly and a pear to be in<br />

line with incomes and rents.<br />

Looking a the forecast, single-family production is expected to<br />

“Demographic tailwinds are helping to propel the housing market<br />

post a 14% gain 2016 to 812,0 units and rise an additional 19%<br />

forward,” said Kiefer.<br />

to 964, 0 units 2017.<br />

Freddie Mac is projecting 5.9 mi lion total home sales this year, the<br />

Using the 2 0-2 03 period as healthy benchmark (when singlefamily<br />

starts averaged 1.3 million units on an nual basis), single-<br />

Regiona ly, Kiefer said that house price growth is the strongest in<br />

highest level since 2 06, and 6.2 mi lion in 2017.<br />

family production cu rently stands at 58% of normal activity. NAHB the South and West, with Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado<br />

project single-family production wi l rise to 64% of normal by the and Florid all posting double-digit statewide house price a preciation<br />

betw en December 2014 and December 2015.<br />

fourth quarter of this year and climb to 7% of normal by th end of<br />

2017.<br />

On the multifamily side, production ran at 395, 0 units last year,<br />

above the 31, 0 rate that is considered a norma level of production.<br />

Multifamily starts expected to decline 4% to 379, 0 units<br />

Also l oking below the national numbers, NAHB Senior Economist<br />

Robert Denk said that housing market conditions are improv-<br />

this year, and rise 6% to 402, 0 units in 2017.<br />

ing acro s nation, but the pace of the recovery continues to vary<br />

Residential remodeling activity is expected to increase 3.3% in by state and region.<br />

2016 over last year, and rise an ditional 1.3% in 2017.<br />

“A common theme has emerged,” said Denk. “The progre s of<br />

market recovery is no longer a function of the boom-and-bust cycle<br />

Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, cited several<br />


The Forecast<br />

Best Year Since 2 06<br />

Back to Basics<br />

JUNE 2016<br />

7:00 - 8: 0 Breakfast at<br />

UICCU, North Liberty<br />

8: 0 - 5: 0 Tour Parade<br />

Homes<br />

1: 0 - 1:30 Lunch at Hi ls<br />

Bank, North Liberty<br />

Parade of Homes<br />

June 4, 5, 7, 9,<br />

1 and 12<br />

Bike Tour of<br />

Parade Homes<br />

June 11<br />

Remodelers Council<br />

June 14 - N on<br />

Board M eting<br />

June 16 - N on<br />

Iowa Va ley Habitat<br />

for Humanity<br />

Memorial Build<br />

June 20 - 24<br />

IC HBA Conference R om<br />

IC HBA Conference Room<br />

Hi ls, IA<br />

North Liberty I Founded 2008<br />

www.moxiesolar.com I First time on list<br />

MOXIE PAGE 5<br />

Look for The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders<br />

Association newsletter.<br />

The focus topic will be Health Care: Data and Coding<br />

and the CBJ List is Fitness Centers.<br />

The CBJ Business of Life will explore regional<br />

getaways for the summer months.<br />

ST<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2016<br />

(Ranked by Percentage Revenue Increase from 13-15)<br />

Moxie Solar takes<br />

title of 2016’s<br />

Fastest Growing<br />

Company<br />

By Chase Castle<br />

chase@corridorbusiness.com<br />

When Jason Hall started to grow<br />

weary of banking, he looked to the<br />

outdoors for inspiration to enrich<br />

his life and possibly his career. Nearly<br />

a decade later, the ensuing venture<br />

that’s become Moxie Solar has grown<br />

beyond his wildest expectations.<br />

The North Liberty-based installer<br />

of solar energy systems now has<br />

about 25 employees, many of whom<br />

were the focus of the acceptance<br />

speech Mr. Hall gave May 17 at the<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies<br />

awards breakfast, where Moxie Solar<br />

took the title of the Corridor’s Fastest<br />

Growing Company for 2016.<br />

Twenty-five companies were<br />

honored at the event, with their<br />

rankings based on confidential tax<br />

information submitted to accounting<br />

firm Honkamp Krueger & Co.<br />

Moxie Solar recorded a yearover-year<br />

revenue increase of nearly<br />

1<strong>10</strong> percent in 2015, and saw its<br />

revenues grow by 536 percent from<br />

2013-2015.<br />

“The Corridor’s Fastest Growing<br />

list has been a goal of mine for years,<br />

but to be on the top of the list is more<br />

than I ever could have expected,” Mr.<br />

Hall told event attendees at the Cedar<br />

Rapids Marriott. “Everything I’ve<br />

done prior to starting Moxie Solar<br />

was with an existing business I stepped into<br />

after it was already a successful operation.<br />

Moxie Solar is different to me, in that we<br />

didn’t take over from somebody else. Our<br />

team fought and struggled to create a company<br />

and a market – literally – that didn’t<br />

exist previously.”<br />

Prior to pursuing renewable energy, Mr.<br />

Corridor Business Journal<br />

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125<br />

Coralville, IA 52241<br />

Moxie Solar<br />

shines<br />

#1<br />

However, su ply-side<br />

headwinds led by a shortage<br />

of construction lots and labor,<br />

along with tight a ce s to<br />

acquisition, construction and<br />

development (AD&C) loans,<br />

continue to hamper a more<br />

robust recovery.<br />

536.27%<br />

growth<br />

Moxie Solar<br />

Inside<br />

Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in finance<br />

from the University of Northern Iowa. He<br />

later gained first-hand knowledge about<br />

business finance as a commercial credit<br />

analyst, a mid-market lender, and as a correspondent<br />

banker for Firstar, which later<br />

acquired U.S. Bank and assumed its name.<br />

Mr. Hall eventually left Firstar to lead<br />

Next week’s CBJ<br />


1 Moxie Solar North Liberty 536.27<br />

2 Papa’s Truck & Trailer Repair LLC Cedar Rapids 223.04<br />

3 Mass Markets Iowa City 195.48<br />

4 BerganKDV Cedar Rapids 194.13<br />

5 Spotix North Liberty 169<br />

6 Fusion Architects Inc. Hiawatha 133.52<br />

7 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha <strong>10</strong>3.62<br />

8 Converge Consulting Cedar Rapids 94.33<br />

9 Hanna Plumbing & Heating Inc. Marion 82.49<br />

<strong>10</strong> World Class Graphics & Displays Cedar Rapids 81.38<br />

11 Home Repair Team North Liberty 78.69<br />

12 Tri-County Enterprises Inc. Cedar Rapids 75.94<br />

13 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 71.65<br />

14 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 70.93<br />

15 Cyber Science 3D Coralville 67.43<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Moxie Solar won the 2016 Fastest Growing title with the<br />

fifth-fastest growth rate ever recorded in the CBJ’s competition,<br />

and topped all but Sitler’s LED Supplies this year, with<br />

growth of 225.45 percent.<br />

Moxie could have what it takes to become a perennial presence<br />

on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing list. The company in April<br />

opened new sales offices in Cedar Rapids and Davenport, with<br />

the Quad Cities region led by former University of Iowa Hawkeye<br />

and NFL player, Julian Vandervelde. They’ll be joined soon by<br />

another office in Austin, Texas – a big but studied jump based on<br />

the market’s concentration of solar, favorable market incentives<br />

and its ability to balance out the weather risks found in Iowa.<br />

“We wanted to have another market that deconcentrates us<br />

from that risk,” CEO Jason Hall said. “[Austin] looked like a<br />

good market that would be good for us.”<br />

The company has also completed its integration of Green<br />

Transitions, a small Vinton-based solar firm Moxie acquired<br />

in October of last year. Former Green Transitions founder and<br />

CEO Brandon Yoder “has been going gangbusters,” since joining<br />

Moxie, Mr. Hall said.<br />

Over the last six months, the company has also started<br />

Moxie Electric, which does electrical contracting work but solar<br />

remains “far and away” the largest revenue source for the<br />

company. Moxie had its best sales and installation month ever<br />

in March, and is now pushing 40 employees.<br />

“We’ve got the right people in the right places,” Mr. Hall<br />

said. “We haven’t actually flexed the muscle in this machine<br />

yet – 2017 will be the year.”<br />

- Adam Moore<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 27


Riding the<br />

e-commerce<br />

wave<br />

By Chase Castle<br />

chase@corridorbusiness.com<br />

Clickstop President Tim Guenther stands inside the company’s Urbana facility.<br />

Clickstop, a CBJ<br />

Fastest Growing<br />

veteran, considers<br />

new locales with<br />

eye on distribution

Clickstop recorded<br />

close to $30 million<br />

in revenue last year<br />

and is on pace to<br />

earn about $36<br />

million in 2017.<br />

Clickstop’s headquarters in Urbana.<br />

Since its founding around 2005, the e-retailer has<br />

appeared on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies<br />

list eight times – more than any company in the Corridor<br />

– and the latest retail projections suggest that<br />

streak will continue.<br />

U.S. Department of Commerce data for the fourth<br />

quarter of last year estimated a 14.3 percent increase<br />

in online sales over the fourth quarter of 2015, compared<br />

to an 8.3 percent increase in total retail sales<br />

for the same period.<br />

For Clickstop, which recorded close to $30 million<br />

in revenue last year and is on pace to earn about<br />

$36 million in 2017, the company’s flagship brand,<br />

US Cargo Control, has been central to its success.<br />

US Cargo Control is the largest of the five brands<br />

the company owns and operates, offering rigging<br />

supplies, flatbed truck products and moving supplies.<br />

The brand accounts for approximately 85 percent<br />

of the company’s overall sales, mainly from the<br />

brand’s trucking and transportation products.<br />

Clickstop manages its own sales teams, website<br />

maintenance and shipping, and also does some light<br />

manufacturing.<br />

Founder and CEO Tim Guenther said that moving<br />

forward, the company’s growth strategy likely<br />

calls for the continued acquisition of smaller brands,<br />

possibly as early as this year.<br />

“The team operating those smaller brands is in a<br />

situation where they’ll likely explore some acquisition<br />

of e-commerce stores and brands,” Mr. Guenther<br />

said.<br />

Longer term, the company will also entertain acquisitions<br />

related to its largest product line. An acquisition<br />

related to US Cargo Control likely won’t happen<br />

for 3-5 years, but could result in a new location, ideally<br />

along the East or West coasts, Mr. Guenther said.<br />

“Anything we acquire in another location probably<br />

doesn’t have the resources to support our US<br />

Cargo Control brand from a fulfillment center standpoint,”<br />

he said. “So we’re interested in the East and<br />

West Coast, but most of the things we’re exploring<br />

from an acquisition standpoint are smaller and not<br />

likely to include fulfillment.”<br />

That doesn’t mean that expanding the company’s<br />

shipping capabilities aren’t being considered, however.<br />

If and when one of those coastal acquisitions is<br />

made, the company will favor areas when it can build<br />

its own distribution center. Alternatively, Clickstop<br />

may seek an acquisition somewhere with existing<br />

distribution services that it could partner with.<br />

“Ideally, we’ll find an existing business that can add<br />

value through acquisition, then also fulfill our customers<br />

in that region with products we already sell,”<br />

Mr. Guenther said. “We’re an opportunistic company,<br />


CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 29

<strong>FGC</strong> BY THE N<br />


(out of <strong>10</strong>0 companies overall)<br />

CUSTOMER SERVICE------------------------------- 40<br />

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES------------------------21<br />

MANUFACTURING------------------------------------13<br />

RETAIL----------------------------------------------------- 6<br />

REAL ESTATE/DEVELOPMENT--------------------- 6<br />

MEDICAL/HEALTH------------------------------------- 4<br />

FINANCE/INSURANCE-------------------------------- 4<br />

FOOD/RESTAURANT---------------------------------- 3<br />

TRANSPORTATION------------------------------------ 3<br />



12%<br />


88%<br />

on<br />

Lisbon<br />

Iowa City<br />

North Liberty<br />

Coralville<br />

Swisher<br />

Washington<br />

Fairfax<br />

Urbana<br />

Urbana<br />

Riverside<br />

LINN<br />

Lisbon<br />

Swisher<br />

Marion<br />

North Liberty Coralville<br />

Washington<br />

Hiawatha<br />

Iowa City<br />

Cedar Rapids<br />

Cedar Rapids<br />

Hiawatha<br />

JONES<br />

BENTON<br />

Marion<br />

IOWA<br />

Hiawatha Hiawatha<br />

Cedar Cedar Rapids Rapids<br />

Lisbon<br />

Marion<br />

Iowa City North Liberty Coralville<br />

Hiawatha<br />

Fairfax<br />

Marion Urbana<br />

Hiawatha Cedar Rapids<br />

Swisher<br />

Lisbon<br />

Marion<br />

Hiawatha<br />

Iowa City<br />

Cedar Rapids<br />

Lisbon<br />

Marion<br />

North Liberty<br />

Hiawatha<br />

Iowa City<br />

Cedar Rapids<br />

Lisbon<br />

Marion<br />

Hiawatha<br />


Cedar Rapids<br />

(Ranking the hometowns of the region’s Fastest Growing Companies)<br />

Fairfax<br />

Swisher<br />

Iowa City<br />

Marion Marion<br />

North Liberty<br />

North Liberty<br />

Coralville<br />


Cedar Rapids<br />

Lisbon<br />

HiawathaLisbon<br />

Riverside<br />

Washington<br />

Coralville<br />

Iowa City<br />

Lisbon Lisbon<br />

Coralville<br />

Swisher<br />

Iowa City North North Liberty Liberty<br />

Iowa City<br />

Lisbon<br />

Marion<br />

Iowa Cit<br />

Iowa City North Liberty<br />

Fairfax<br />

CEDAR<br />

Urbana<br />

Swisher Washington<br />

Washington<br />

Fairfax<br />

Riverside<br />

Swisher<br />

North Liberty Coralville<br />

Marion<br />

Cedar Rapids<br />

Lisbon<br />

Hiawatha<br />

Iowa City<br />

Cedar North Liberty Rapids Coralville 49<br />

Hiawatha 12<br />

Iowa City <strong>10</strong><br />

Marion 6<br />

North Liberty 5<br />

Coralville Lisbon 5<br />

Washington 4<br />

Marion<br />

Iowa City<br />

Swisher<br />

Fairfax<br />

Washington2<br />

Wayland 2<br />

Lisbon 1<br />

Riverside 1<br />

Sigourney 1<br />

Swisher 1<br />

North Liberty<br />

Urbana 1<br />

Coralville<br />

Fairfax<br />

Urbana<br />

Riverside<br />


Washington<br />

Swisher Washington<br />

Fairfax<br />

Urbana<br />

Riverside<br />

30 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

UMBERS<br />




Thomas L Cardella & Assoc. 919.00%<br />

Asoyia 851.00%<br />

Hybrid Transit Systems 818.00%<br />

Express Auto Delivery 621.00%<br />

Moxie Solar 536.27%<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions (2012) 516.<strong>10</strong>%<br />

Bochner Chocolates 427.00%<br />

MobileDemand 421.40%<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions (2014) 419.80%<br />

Premier Staffing Inc. 418.30%<br />

TO NOTE:<br />

Midwest Microwave Solutions is the only company to be No. 1 twice<br />

MobileDemand and Midwest Microwave Solutions had revenue<br />

increase above 300% twice<br />

6/12 Companies with revenue increase above 300% were No. 1<br />

on the list that year<br />

Spotix (2015) & MediRevv (2011) are the only two companies to<br />

be named No. 1 with revenue increase less than 300%<br />


SOLD OR MERGER - 7<br />


CLOSED - 3<br />

REBRANDED - 2<br />


Hybrid Transit Systems’ COO and Partner Gerald Moore,<br />

President and CEO John Miller, and Partner Robert Helgens<br />

pose for a photo at the company’s headquarters in Cedar Rapids<br />

earlier this year. The transportation service provider reported<br />

the third-fastest growth rate in the program’s first decade, with<br />

818 percent growth in 2008.<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 31

2017’S FASTEST<br />

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2017<br />

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 14-16)<br />


1 Sitler’s LED Supplies Washington 289.99<br />

2 Moxie Solar North Liberty 225.45<br />

3 Higher Learning Technologies Coralville 190.27<br />

4 Fiberutilities Group LLC Cedar Rapids 158.85<br />

5 Katalyst Systems Impact Cedar Rapids 155.05<br />

6 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 151.55<br />

7 Spotix North Liberty 144.17<br />

8 Ready Wireless Hiawatha 136.9<br />

9 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha <strong>10</strong>9.19<br />

<strong>10</strong> Converge Consulting Cedar Rapids <strong>10</strong>7.15<br />

11 Ahmann Design Hiawatha 88.83<br />

12 Involta Cedar Rapids 84.54<br />

13 Hardscape Solutions of Iowa Inc. Cedar Rapids 76.31<br />

14 de Novo Marketing Cedar Rapids 71.72<br />

15 RKSJS Online DBA: IAHomes<br />

Source: The companies featured on this list submitted information to an independent auditor for verification.<br />

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32 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary


the business person.”<br />

Mr. Nelson is acutely aware of that need because it’s<br />

often one of the things that brings clients to the EDC.<br />

The center can connect company founders with business<br />

expertise and resources that can help if they aren’t<br />

ready to bring in an outsider to lead. Sometimes the answer<br />

can be hiring consultants, or even additional training<br />

for the owner to help them deal with challenges.<br />

“Business get caught in their own forest,” Mr. Nelson<br />

said. “They don’t objectively see their business<br />

from the outside, and that’s why businesses hire consultants<br />

all the time.”<br />

Focus & financing<br />

TrueNorth Companies, a three-time member of the<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list, has been one of<br />

the companies that exemplifies sustained, rapid growth.<br />

It has kept its focus by emphasizing four “pillars” of its<br />

business model: profitable operation, client experience,<br />

dynamic culture and business development. Progress<br />

in each of those areas is carefully tracked, down to the<br />

individual employee.<br />

TrueNorth’s 20/20 Vision initiative was the result of<br />

a strategic planning process, according to CEO Duane<br />

Smith. The initiative established a goal of more than<br />

$1 billion in premiums and growing to more than 400<br />

staff members; it has also helped the company maintain<br />

focus and stay on track.<br />

Such focus is, unfortunately, more the exception than<br />

the rule.<br />

“Companies typically don’t do that,” Mr. Nelson<br />

said. “They focus on the problem of the day or the<br />

hour, and someone [the leader] is not focusing enough<br />

on the overall strategic directions, goals and execution.”<br />

Providing financial predictability to lenders has<br />

been one of the keys to the success of Cedar Ridge<br />

Winery & Distillery in Swisher, according to owner Jeff<br />

Quint, who was previously CFO of the fast-growing<br />

data services company Involta.<br />

“We are a heavy equipment and inventory company,<br />

and you’ve got to have good banking,” Mr. Quint said.<br />

“To have good banking, you’ve got to line up one good<br />

year after another.”<br />

Mr. Quint said accurate forecasting of financials and<br />

hitting those forecasts have been crucial to his banking<br />

relationships. It’s something bankers have mentioned<br />

in extending his company additional credit.<br />

“They [lenders] have told us, ‘You did what you told<br />

us you’re going to do,’” he said.<br />

Defining success<br />

High-growth businesses are often described as “gazelles”<br />

and heaped with glowing praise. Mr. Nelson is<br />

quick to point out that growth, while a worthy goal,<br />

is only one definition of success. He recalled one EDC<br />

client who simply wanted to grow his business in the<br />

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery Owner Jeff Quint (right) stands with Head Distiller Kolin<br />

Brighton (left) and General Manager Jamie Siefken at the company’s facility in Swisher<br />

earlier this year.<br />

small town where it had started, using a style of “open book” management<br />

that empowered and informed his employees.<br />

For that company’s founder, Mr. Nelson said, it was important<br />

to follow and maintain his values and be an economic engine to his<br />

community, rather than maximize growth. It was a limiting factor to<br />

that company’s overall size, but one the founder was willing to accept.<br />

“What I’ve learned over time is people reach a point where they<br />

don’t want to continue to grow,” Mr. Nelson said.<br />

Another fact that Mr. Nelson has observed with high-growth companies<br />

is that many don’t remain independent for too long. Most entrepreneurs<br />

don’t start out their first successful business with the idea of<br />

selling it, Mr. Nelson said, but “if you build something that’s successful,<br />

someone will want to buy it.”<br />

Selling a business may end the entrepreneur’s growth story, Mr.<br />

Nelson said, but it can also set the stage for the next phase of the company’s<br />

growth, and for the entrepreneur to start again with another<br />

company. CBJ<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary 33


Clickstop’s Tim Guenther stands with<br />

the company’s awards, including the<br />

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies and<br />

Coolest Places to Work honors.<br />

so that’s probably the approach we’re taking.”<br />

The company’s eye for opportunities that<br />

could compliment its distribution reflects one of<br />

online retail’s most important recent changes: expectations<br />

for fast shipping, which could work to<br />

Clickstop’s advantage.<br />

“Shipping is happening a lot faster than it ever<br />

has,” Mr. Guenther said. “It makes us wonder<br />

how long it is before these carriers figure out that<br />

being in the middle of the country is actually a<br />

pretty good place to be.”<br />

As to whether a new acquisition would carry<br />

the Clickstop name, as opposed to the US Cargo<br />

Control brand or another altogether, Mr. Guenther<br />

said the company has yet to clearly demarcate<br />

the Clickstop name and its individual brands,<br />

which also cover lifting and moving supplies and<br />

building products.<br />

“So that’s a tough one for us, and I wish it<br />

wasn’t that way,” Mr. Guenther said.<br />

Presently, Clickstop has 117 full-time and 23-<br />

part time employees, with two facilities located<br />

in Urbana, including a $2.5 million facility with<br />

warehousing and distribution space that opened<br />

on Blue Creek Drive in 2011.<br />

The company also continues to own its original<br />

office on Bing Miller Lane, which now includes<br />

a warehouse and the company’s nonprofit,<br />

Clickstop Cares. Once a roughly 53,000-squarefoot<br />

expansion of the new office is completed this<br />

summer, however, those operations will move to<br />

Blue Creek Drive. CBJ<br />

SPOTIX PAGE 24<br />

nications. With the company’s platforms now dialed in, he<br />

said he views any significant spike in email or phone contact<br />

with customers as an indicator of possible issues.<br />

“It’s actually a really good barometer for the overall status…<br />

of the content, the service, the product,” he said.<br />

Mr. Verhorevoort believes the business outlook for Spotix is<br />

positive due to economic indicators such as home construction<br />

and new home sales, which increased 6 percent nationwide the<br />

first quarter of 2015 over the same time period last year.<br />

“I think it looks like a pretty rosy picture with some slow,<br />

steady growth for the next couple of years, at least as far as<br />

big-picture, macro growth goes,” he said.<br />

What’s happened since:<br />

Spotix has kept the fire going since topping the CBJ’s Fastest<br />

Growing Companies list in 2015. The company ranked No. 5 in<br />

2016 with 169 percent growth, and No. 7 this year, at 144 percent.<br />

Although the company has a sales floor at its new facility<br />

at the I-380 Industrial Park, where it relocated in December,<br />

more than 95 percent of the company’s sales continue to be<br />

earned online.<br />

“A sale is a sale, whether it’s online or in-person out of the<br />

showroom,” Aaron Verhorevoort, now president, said. “Any<br />

sale is a good sale.”<br />

The company more than doubled its space with the move,<br />

and Spotix now occupies about 23,000 square feet, including<br />

its warehouse, in the 90,0000-square-foot building.<br />

The new space also boasts a revamped showroom, which<br />

serves two purposes, according to Mr. Verhorevoort. Like any<br />

showroom, the space allows the company to display hardware<br />

to prospective buyers. Perhaps more importantly, however, the<br />

room helps staff familiarize themselves with the products in-person<br />

so that they can better answer questions for customers online.<br />

“And that level of experience is more common in brickand-mortar<br />

retail space, but it’s not as common online,” Mr.<br />

Verhorevoort said. “That’s kind of what helps us have a little<br />

bit of an upper-hand or unique edge over the competition.”<br />

As of April, the company had 13 full-time employees, with<br />

plans to hire about six more full-time employees in 2017 and<br />

another half-dozen employees next year. Among those positions<br />

slated to be hired are sales, marketing, development and<br />

possibly 1-2 service positions.<br />

“We’re certainly still on pace for that timeline and maybe a<br />

little bit ahead of it,” Mr. Verhorevoort said.<br />

– Chase Castle<br />

34 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies <strong>10</strong>th Anniversary

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