FGC_10 Years

samanthakollasch

YEARS

2008-2017

A look back at the past 10 years of the

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies Awards

Strategies for managing growth - Thoughts on the next 10 years

Updates on past honorees - Notable milestones & records


TLCA would like to thank

the local communities

as we celebrate our

th anniversary!

10

“Named one of America’s Fastest-

Growing Private Companies, TLC

Associates is committed to operational

excellence and a clearly defined goal:

delivering program results with which

our customers are satisfied and returning

a positive ROI back to our clients.”

T


JUNE 2017

Chief Executive Officer

& Publisher

John F. Lohman

Vice President

Aspen N. Lohman

Chief Operating Officer

& Associate Publisher

Andrea Rhoades

Editor & Chief Content Officer

Adam Moore

Writers

Chase Castle

Dave DeWitte

Angela Holmes

Photographers

Bill Adams

Emily Bettridge

Sarah Binder

Brian Draeger

Angela Holmes

Graphic Design Manager

Becky Lyons

Graphic Designer

Julia Druckmiller

Media Consultants

Kris Lacina

Kelly Meyer

Event Media Consultant

Rhonda Roskos

Marketing & Distribution Manager

Jean Suckow

Event Marketing Coordinator

Ashley Levitt

Contents are registered to Corridor Media Group.

Reproductions or other use, in whole or in part, of

the contents of the publication without permission

is strictly prohibited.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Marking a milestone

The Fastest Growing Companies awards program, now in its 10th year, has been

one of our most satisfying projects here at the Corridor Business Journal.

Before these awards were given, many of the entrepreneurs

we now recognize were producing great economic

development accomplishments through their businesses,

but very few people outside of their company and

vendors knew about them. That was a shame.

It’s akin to a tree falling in the forest – if nobody

hears it, does it make a sound?

These entrepreneurial endeavors, and the wealth that

they create, are important lessons for our region to hear,

so that their successes can be replicated and nurtured.

After all, growing our own companies in the Corridor,

rather than competing to recruit outside businesses, is

the best long-term approach to economic success.

As we’ve mentioned numerous times in the CBJ

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

in economic development parlance, and are coveted by development and community

officials.

Those same officials should conduct a thorough examination of these companies,

and see what incentives, if any, helped them accomplish what they have

accomplished – and then see what else can be done to help them grow even

more. This publication should help.

It’s exciting to look back over these the past decade and see the impact these

100 companies have made on our region. We’ve circled around with some of the

fastest companies to appear on our list for updates, and analyzed data on our

past winners to look for deeper trends and takeaways that might offer clues for

future assistance.

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

over the past decade reveals multiple casualties attributable to that. Running or

working for a fast-growing company is certainly exciting, but can be challenging

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

times should get some additional attention.

Clickstop is the leader in that category, with the Urbana-based online retailer

appearing a record seven times over the past decade. The company has grown

from a one-man show to more than 100 employees and nearly $36 million in

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

this magazine.

We would also like to thank our partner, Honkamp Krueger PC, as we recognize

a decade of the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies program. The Dubuquebased

firm has confidentially compiled the revenue numbers from these 100 private,

for-profit companies for the past 10 years. We couldn’t have done it without

them and their expertise and discretion.

We hope you enjoy this look back, learn more about these high-performing

companies and their leaders, and then consider what we can do as a region to

foster the creation of more of these companies.

2345 Landon Road, Ste. 100

North Liberty, IA 52317

319.665.NEWS

www.corridorbusiness.com

John Lohman

CEO & Publisher

Corridor Business Journal

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 3


CONTENTS

STRATEGIES:

Sustaining growth is no easy task.............. 6

LEADERS:

Clickstop rides the e-commerce wave...... 28

ANALYSIS:

FGC by the numbers.................................. 30

FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES:

Through the Years 2008-2017..................... 9

6

2008: Asoyia LLC....................................... 10

2009: Bochner Chocolates........................ 12

2010: Thomas L. Cardella & Associates.... 14

2011: MediRevv......................................... 16

2012: Midwest Microwave Solutions........ 18

2013: Lattice Communications................. 20

2014: Midwest Microwave Solutions........ 22

2015: Spotix.............................................. 24

2016: Moxie Solar..................................... 26

2017: Sitler’s LED Supplies....................... 32

28

4 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


FROM THE ACCOUNTANTS

Technology paving the way for

Corridor's Fastest Growing Companies

We are excited to once again partner with the Corridor

Business Journal for this year’s Fastest Growing

Companies awards program. For 10 years we

have been honored to be part of this competitive

and prestigious award. Year over year, Corridor-area

businesses continue to adapt and grow to the rapidly

changing world we live in, and it’s been fun to

watch these exceptional companies as they travel

along their journey.

Each year, we review the applicants’ financial

statements and tax returns for the past three years

to determine their overall percentage of growth,

and the numbers have been amazing. We have seen

greater than 400 percent growth in some cases, and

companies have come within a decimal of a percentage

point from each other to take the top spots.

Most impressive are the companies who have made

the list multiple times, which is an amazing accomplishment.

If a business continues to make the top

five or 10 each year, it means their revenue is effectively

doubling annually, which is pretty powerful.

One of the biggest trends we have seen over the

years is the growth of technology and web-based

companies. This comes as no surprise considering

the mobile and digital world we live in, but the way

these companies are successful is where it really gets

interesting. Nearly every traditional industry has had

to adapt to be more mobile and web-based, and that

has in turn opened the door for entrepreneurs to

step in and use their technological acumen.

Rather than create new products or try to compete

in traditional industries themselves, entrepreneurs

are developing ways to help those industries

perform more efficiently. For example, we already

have companies that develop and manufacture

heavy equipment; those companies that fall in the

fast-growing category are instead coming up with

ways to digitally manage the diagnostics on the

equipment and provide better insight on its performance.

Likewise, our health care systems have established

staff, equipment and facilities, but entrepreneurs

are coming up with better ways to manage

their data and patient information so doctors can

make better, more informed decisions.

We also have seen an uptick in web-based retailers

who have gone off the physical grid and exclusively

operate online. These retailers are essentially

like a mini-Amazon – they order products and resell

them to the consumer. Without the overhead

of a traditional physical location, these retailers can

grow at a faster rate and meet their customers wherever

and whenever they are online. It’s a game that

people with a good sense of technology, distribution

and marketing have jumped on,

and it’s working here in Eastern Iowa.

Furthermore, the growth we have

seen has been encouraged and supported

through some excellent economic

stimulus programs such as

tax incentives and historical districts.

Growing companies in need of more

space can make the investment to

expand and build what they need,

thanks to strong working partnerships

with local and state economic

development initiatives. More than

half of all the entries over the course

of the program have come from the Cedar Rapids

metro area, while the rest have been fairly evenly dispersed

throughout the Corridor, indicating that economic

partnerships and overall community support

has been strong for companies looking to expand.

Moving into the next 10 years, based on the

trends, we anticipate more entrepreneurs developing

technologies and solutions to support industries

and companies that already exist here in Eastern

Iowa. Industries like health care, manufacturing,

education, investments and services, and engineering

are all going to need mobile and web-based

solutions to support their operations and systems.

Those who can find their niche and can figure out

how to solve problems using technology, data and

algorithms are the ones who will continue to grow

and succeed in today’s digital world.

As a fastest growing CPA firm in the U.S. for the

past seven years, we can relate to these companies,

which have found ways to carve out a niche, grow

and sustain their business. Many of these are people

we work with daily. We get it, and we understand

where they’re headed. Their success is inspiring and

the support locally is encouraging. We look forward

to being a part of the next 10 years of this program,

and we can’t wait to see what these companies come

up with next.

Kyle Kunz, CPA.CITP

Partner

Honkamp Krueger PC

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 5


STRATEGIES

Sustaining growth

is no easy task

By Dave DeWitte

dave@corridorbusiness.com

Corridor

business

leaders

discuss the

challenges

that come with

high-growth

companies

EDC CEO Curt Nelson, in the organization’s offices earlier this year.

It typically gets harder to stay on the CBJ’s

annual list of the Corridor’s Fastest Growing

Companies after the first year or two of

making an appearance, and yet it’s a feat that

some companies have managed repeatedly.

The challenge for “repeaters” is that it’s easier to grow,

percentage-wise, from a small revenue base than from

a larger one.

“The percentages work in favor of a smaller company,”

said Kris Gulick, who had worked with some of

the ‘fastest’ companies as president of Entrepreneurial

Services Group before selling the company in January.

“They can have a high rate of growth for a few years or

so, but their size catches up with them.”

Mr. Gulick says being in the right industry at the

right time can make a huge difference in how fast a

6 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


company grows, as past booms in telecommunications and

e-commerce have benefited Corridor companies. But perhaps

the biggest factor in determining which companies keep coming

back is profitability.

“You could have significant growth, but if you do not have

positive earnings, you cannot sustain higher sales volumes,”

Mr. Gulick said. He added that profitability isn’t a requirement

for making the fastest-growing list, but definitely comes

into play in determining which companies keep coming back

and which ones don’t.

Curt Nelson, CEO of the Cedar Rapids-based Entrepreneurial

Development Center (EDC), has also seen some patterns

after years of working with growth-stage companies, some of

which have made the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list.

“If you get the ingredients and the execution right, it’s

pretty straightforward,” Mr. Nelson said, defining “the ingredients”

as:

n Leadership: In addition to being strong leaders themselves,

the company’s leadership must define the culture

that drives a company.

n Talent: Having the right people in the right places, and

keeping them motivated so that they stay in the company

and continue to perform well.

n Resources: Although the obvious one is money, today’s

businesses need the right technology, information, location,

office environment and human resources to succeed.

n Strategic fit: The business has to offer a product or service

that it can use to generate profitable demand, and may

have to change its product or service as factors in the marketplace

such as competition, technology or market demographics

change.

TrueNorth Companies CEO Duane Smith, shown in his Cedar Rapids office. The

company has appeared on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing list three times.

“The better you get at all those things, year-upon-year, the

more likely you are to be successful,” said Mr. Nelson, who

wrote about the ingredients in his book, “The Recipe for Business

Success,” and has explained them at seminars.

When a high-growth business begins to fade, he says it’s

often because its leaders lost focus on the ingredients that

were making it successful. They may have lost the edge of providing

the most responsive customer service, or their product

that was once the best on the market may now be far down

the list.

“You have a nice restaurant in town and there’s nobody

else there, and nobody else wants to open a restaurant,” Mr.

Nelson said. “You feel like you’re a great restaurateur because

there’s nobody there to compete with.”

The arrival of a major competitor may force that business

to not only refocus on its execution, but to redefine itself to

differentiate its offering from the competition’s, he said.

High-growth companies can also stumble when their

founders don’t accept their own limitations, and fail to bring

in more experienced and educated leaders who can better address

the challenges of growth.

“It’s an issue that comes with every business that gets

started,” Mr. Nelson said. “Businesses get started by people

who can build the widget and make the product. They don’t

usually get started by the person who can build the company,

STRATEGIES PAGE 33

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 7


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8 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


Through the Years

2008-2017

The Corridor Business Journal’s annual Fastest Growing Companies

awards program has been a frequent source of excitement and inspiration over

the past decade, with some of the region’s most successful companies taking

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

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

ANTICIPATE CHANGE

INNOVATE AND GROW

Happy 10 years of “Fastest Growing” to Corridor Business Journal!

2007 was a great year, wasn’t it?

www.beamedirevver.com

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 9


2008’S FASTE

Asoyia LLC

Based in Iowa City

Established in 2004

851% growth (2 times on list)

What we wrote then:

Asoyia, a maker of a zero trans fat soybean

oils, was named the Fastest Growing Company

in the Corridor in 2008, topping the

list with 851 percent growth.

Asoyia is a fledgling name in agriculture

circles and has brought attention to its new

hometown, Iowa City, in recent months. In

March, Forbes.com ranked Iowa City eighth

among its Top 10 Up-and-Coming Tech Cities,

specifically naming Asoyia’s presence as

a reason for the designation.

The company was started in 2004 by

25 farmers in Winfield, a farming community

45 miles south of Iowa City. It moved

to Johnson County in 2007 to be closer to

business partners, such as Cargill in Cedar

Rapids.

Securing the bottom line, Asoyia recently

received $4 million from new investors. The

company also recently signed an agreement

with Pioneer to promote a genetically modified

1 percent low linolenic soybean.

Meanwhile, Asoyia has expanded distribution

into Illinois, hired two business development

managers and received a grant

through Iowa State University to promote

its next generation product.

“We’re still a relatively small company.

We intend to continue to operate our business

that way; we don’t intend to add 1,000

people and become a very large bureaucratic

corporation,” said President Greg Keeley.

“We just want to do what we do as best as

anybody can do, and we want to be the

leader in this whole low trans fat or trans

fat-free food market. It’s a $25 billion-plus

market – it’s a huge market and we’re not

going to be the next Wesson oil, but we’re

definitely going to be a major player in the

specialty oils market.”

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

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

What’s happened since:

Less than two years after being named the Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company,

Asoyia closed its doors.

Former CFO Bob George told the CBJ in a March 2010 article that the company

closed because the price at which the company could sell its soybean oils did

not cover the cost to produce them.

“We had gotten investments and venture capital money came in and they

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

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

was considered kind of a premium product, and in a down economy, people just

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

health standpoint, as well as a stability standpoint and use in application and

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

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

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

10 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


gigi@corridorbiznews.com

tim@corridorbiznews.com

$1.50

ST

Corridor’s

CORRIDOR

Rapid

growth

Asoyia named

Corridor’s Fastest

Growing company

By Gigi Wood

FOCUS:

FASTEST GROWING

COMPANIES

Featuring the CBJ List

of Fastest Growing

Companies

CEDAR RAPIDS/IOWA CITY CORRIDOR’S INDEPENDENT LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY

JOHN RICHARD

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

accepting an award at the Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies breakfast May

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

three-year period.

It comes down to five principles.

That's what Greg Keeley, president of

Asoyia, told an audience last week at the

Corridor Business Journal’s Fastest Growing

Companies breakfast. Asoyia, maker of a

zero trans fat soybean oils, was named the

fastest growing company in the area.

It was one of roughly 25 businesses to

be nominated for the award; 15 were recognized

at the breakfast at the new Kirkwood

Community College’s Center for

Continuing Education in Cedar Rapids.

Companies had to earn at least

$350,000 annually and were ranked

based on the percentage increase in revenue

experienced from 2005 to 2007.

Companies submitted tax forms or audit

statements to participate.

“We got a good cross section of companies

applying,” said Gordon Epping, a

partner with Honkamp, Krueger & Co.,

who evaluated the entries. “We had some

big companies with some great, large sales

apply but they didn’t have the percentage

increase and didn't make the cutoff.”

Asoyia topped the list with 856 percent

growth. Mr. Keeley shared with the audience

five principles all entrepreneurs need to follow

to succeed in today’s business world.

“Entrepreneurs are all about growth

and not about cost reductions or laying

off workers,” he said.

Business owners need a great product,

should spend wisely, hire great people

and need passion, Mr. Keeley said.

“Find great people,” he said. “Not

good people, but great people.”

Asoyia is a fledgling name in agriculture

circles and has brought attention to its new

hometown, Iowa City, in recent months. In

March, Forbes.com ranked Iowa City

Auto parts

Company opens a new

NAPA auto parts store after a

long search for the right spot.

PAGE 5

The century mark

Electrical and telecommunications

wholesale supplier

Terry-Durin Co. marks

100 years.

PAGE 8

eighth among its Top 10 Up-and-Coming

Tech Cities, specifically naming Asoyia’s

presence as a reason for the designation.

The company was started by 25 farmers

in 2004 in Winfield, a farming community

45 miles south of Iowa City. It

moved to Iowa City last year to be closer

to business partners, such as Cargill in

Cedar Rapids.

Asoyia’s soybean oil is made from soybeans

with only 1 percent of linolenic

ASOYIA continues on page 12

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

Credit counselor

stresses paying

debt is best use

By Tim Kenyon

June 2 - 8, 2008

IOWA

Economic

stimulus

check

spending

varied

Using an economic stimulus check can be

the first move for consumers to fix their

troubled finances, according to a Cedar

Rapids credit advisor.

“I had a client last month that I put on

a debt-management program and we

looked at the check as a source to start

debt reduction. That seemed to work good

for us; we’re telling others the same thing,”

said Kathi Moss, a housing and credit

counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling

Service in southeast Cedar Rapids.

The $152 billion federal measure provides

tax rebate checks of up to $600 per

working individual and $1,200 per married

couple, plus $300 per child for families with

children. It also includes new tax incentives

for job-creating business investments.

Continuing to pay down debt without

adding to it again is the next challenge,

Ms. Moss said.

“So many people are truly living on the

STIMULUS continues on page 10

Fastest Growing Companies 2008

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 05-07)

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Asoyia LLC Iowa City 851

2 Hybrid Transit Systems Inc. Cedar Rapids 818

3 Express Auto Delivery Cedar Rapids 621

4 MobileDemand Hiawatha 312

5 kor Cedar Rapids 235

6 ServiceMaster 380 Cedar Rapids 197

7 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 156 1

8 Reminisce North Liberty 144

9 Genova Technologies Cedar Rapids 115

10 Iowa Northern Railway Cedar Rapids 89

11 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 89

12 VIPS Cedar Rapids 73

13 OPN Architects Inc. Cedar Rapids 72

14 World Trend Financial Cedar Rapids 67

15 RuffaloCODY Cedar Rapids 59

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

“We had gotten investments and

venture capital money came in and

they helped sustain that for awhile,

but the cost structure was just too

heavy and eventually collapsed, based

on what we could sell the oil for.”

We Put Your Pets First

– 2016 Fastest Growing Company Honoree –

- Bob George, Former CFO of Asoyia

think about how it will last longer in a fryer.”

Saving the company would have required too much of an

investment, he added.

“Based on the numbers, it was going to take a significant

amount of additional capital to try to get the cash flow positive

and we just didn’t see a buyer on the horizon who was

going to be willing to do that, let alone existing ownership,”

Mr. George said.

– Angela Holmes

319-743-0554

www.petersenpethospital.com

420 Colton Circle NE, Unit 3, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 11


2009’S FASTE

Eric Bochner, president of Bochner Chocolates, stands in his southern Iowa City

manufacturing center in 2008.

Bochner Chocolates

Based in Iowa City

Established in 2003

427% growth

What we wrote then:

“The dirty secret of Bochner Chocolates is growing up, I never liked

chocolate. I never really enjoyed chocolate,” said Eric Bochner, president

of the chocolate manufacturing company. “It was only when

I went to Europe and got a chance to try European chocolate that I

began to like it.”

Bochner Chocolates was named the Fastest Growing Company

in the Corridor for 2009, with 427 percent growth from 2006-2008.

Bochner produces high-end chocolates at its factory at 1419 Waterfront

Drive in Iowa City and sells them at its retail store on the

Coralville strip. His newest venture, Chocolate Block, is a retail store

that sells the chocolates from his factory that don’t meet the company’s

high-quality standards, at a lower price. Mr. Bochner refers to

the discount chocolates as “selling champagne at beer prices.” The

Chocolate Block, which opened about a month ago, is located at

Pepperwood Plaza on Highway 6.

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

said. “The price point is lower, so you have to have more customers

come in to do a certain amount of business and we’ve been seeing a

huge influx of customers.”

The company also sells its chocolates to other retailers

and other venues, such as hotels. Additionally, it produces

products under license for other companies, including

a licensee of Hasbro.

All this comes after a year when Bochner had to shut

down for two months because of floods. The company was

forced to dismantle $6 million of equipment. It took 36

hours to take apart and 60 days to piece it back together.

But business is brisk once again. Since opening five

years ago, Bochner has doubled its manufacturing operation

and will need more room before long.

“We’ve had to increase the ability to make products,

we’ve had to increase our capacity to package products,

we’ve had to increase the variety of the products we package

and make, so I say our capabilities have expanded a

lot over the last five years,” Mr. Bochner said. “Our factory

here is definitely going to max out in the next year

or two. If we continue to grow even at reasonable rates

comparable to what we’ve been doing, this factory’s going

to max out and we’re already trying to envision what

we’re going to do next.”

What’s happened since:

Bochner Chocolates’ presence in the Corridor was short

but sweet.

Founded in 2003, the Iowa City chocolate manufacturer

increased its revenue between 2006 and 2008 by

427 percent, making it one of the 10 fastest companies

honored in the first decade of the CBJ’s Fastest Growing

Company competition.

“Growth on some level is natural because it’s either

grow or die,” Eric Bochner, president of Bochner Chocolates,

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

evolution of what our original vision of what our company,

what we, were going to do.”

In November 2012, Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier

of St. Louis acquired Bochner Chocolates for an

undisclosed amount, in part for access to the equipment

found at the company’s Iowa City facility, according to

news reports. That equipment, along with “several key

people,” relocated to St. Louis later that year, and founder

Eric Bochner assumed the position of senior vice president

of operations and private label sales, according to

trade publication Candy Industry.

“Combining our advanced technology model with

Bissinger’s extensive sales and distribution network will

elevate Bissinger’s to levels the company has never seen,”

Mr. Bochner said in a press release announcing the sale.

“I am very excited to be a part of the next chapter of

Bissinger’s long and distinguished history.”

Ken Kellerhals, Bissinger’s president, said the purchase

would help his company transform into a premier

boutique chocolatier with a national presence.

12 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


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

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

gigi@corridorbiznews.com

PAGE 3

PAGE 10

BOCHNER continues on page 11

tim@corridorbiznews.com

IMPACT continues on page 2

$1.50

FILE PHOTO

ST

Corridor’s

By Gigi Wood

It’s a company with a secret.

“The dirty secret of Bochner

Chocolates is growing up I never liked

chocolate. I never really enjoyed chocolate,”

said Eric Bochner, president of

FOCUS:

FASTEST GROWING

COMPANIES

Featuring the CBJ List

of Fastest Growing

Companies

CEDAR RAPIDS/IOWA CITY CORRIDOR’S INDEPENDENT LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY

CORRIDOR

Fastest growing companies honored

Bochner Chocolates wins with 427 percent growth

Bon appetite

The Chef’s Table brings French

cuisine to remodeled downtown

Iowa City space.

Top entrepreneur

Dennis Henderson with Ready

Mobile is the 2009

Entrepreneur of the Year.

the chocolate manufacturing company.

“It was only when I went to Europe and

got a chance to try European chocolate

that I began to like it.”

Mr. Bochner shared anecdotes about

his career and business at the Fastest

Growing Companies breakfast May 19

at the Coralville Marriott. Bochner

Chocolates was named the fastestgrowing

company in the area by the

Corridor Business Journal. The event recognized

the top 15 fastest growing companies

in the Corridor.

Companies had to earn at least

$350,000 annually and were ranked

based on the percentage increase in revenue

experienced from 2006 to 2008.

CORRIDOR

Combination

seeks maximum

impact

Access Iowa,

Next Generation

Commission merge

under chamber

By Tim Kenyon

May 25 - 31, 2009

ImpactCR seeks to boost Cedar Rapids’

ranking among top-rated “Next City”

communities for young professionals to

live and work.

“Fourth place isn’t good enough anymore.

The next generation is ready to tell

employers it’s time to include them more,”

said Christian Fong, co-chair of the new initiative

that merged Access Iowa and the

Cedar Rapids Next Generation Commission.

The group’s new name of ImpactCR

and its logo were unveiled at a press conference

last week that touched on Cedar

Rapids’ recent No. 4 ranking on a list of

cities with a population of 100,000 to

200,000, according to the Madison, Wis.-

based Next Generation Consulting.

Merger talk began in January when

Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of

Commerce President and CEO Shannon

Meyer recommended the idea. Uniting

the two groups with similar missions

under the resources of the chamber forms

a powerful partnership, Ms. Meyer said.

“This is strong people pushing at the

same boulder going up a hill,” added Mr.

Fong, who directs capital markets for

Aegon USA Realty Advisors in Cedar

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

Fastest Growing Companies 2009

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 06-08)

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Bochner Chocolates Iowa City 427

2 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 335

3 Riverside Casino & Golf Resort Riverside 224

4 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 196

5 Expense Reduction Analysts Hiawatha 139

6 Innomatix LLC Iowa City 126

7 Hybrid Transit Systems Inc. Cedar Rapids 120

8 TMone Iowa City 107

9 AES Corp. Cedar Rapids 106

10 Sign Productions Inc. Marion 87

11 Dynamic Broadband Cedar Rapids 72

12 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 67

13 Asoyia Inc. Iowa City 53

14 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 51

15 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 49

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

“We had to acquire a like-minded company with stateof-the-art

capabilities that complement Bissinger’s heritage,

quality, strategy, products and sales network,” he

said. “This is the perfect fit for Bissinger’s.”

Despite a pledge by Bissinger’s to keep the Coralville

store open under the Bochner name, the shop closed its

doors in May 2013. The production plant closed soon after,

and The Chocolate Block shut its doors by summer 2014.

The move resulted in the local loss of about a dozen

full-time employees, according to news reports, although

Bissinger’s said the acquisition created about 40 positions

at its St. Louis plant.

– Chase Castle

Growing and advancing the

Ponseti Method of clubfoot

treatment at home and around

the globe since 2004.

MD Orthopaedics, Inc.

MD Molding

manufacturer for MD Orthopaedics, Inc.

www.mdorthopaedics.com

Bochner Chocolates’ former retail operation

near Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville.

WE’VE MADE THE LIST!

CBJ Fastest Growing Company Honorees

MD Ortho

2009

2010

2011

MD Molding

2013

2014

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 13


2010’S FASTE

TLC & Associates Founder and President Thomas Cardella, photographed at the CBJ

offices earlier this year.

Thomas L. Cardella & Associates

Based in Cedar Rapids

Established in 2007

919% growth (2 times on list)

What we wrote then:

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

founder and president of Thomas L. Cardella & Associates, which

debuts on the Fastest Growing Companies list with 919 percent growth.

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

they put in hours that you couldn’t ask anyone to put in, because

that’s how they feel about the company,” he said.

TLC & Associates began opening call centers in Iowa in 2007 and

has been racking up the awards during the past few years. It was

named the Best in Class Call Center last year, and founder Mr. Cardella

was recently named first runner-up for Call Center Leader of

the Year award by the International Quality and Productivity Center,

(IQPC) an industry organization.

Last month, the company was also named one of the Top 50

Outbound and Inbound Teleservices Agencies by Customer Interaction

Solutions magazine. Cardella & Associates ranked No. 13 in

outbound calls and 25th in inbound calls by the magazine.

Before starting TLC & Associates, Mr. Cardella ran Access Direct,

a telemarketing company he created in 1995 in Cedar Rapids. Access

Direct, as does TLC & Associates, worked with global Fortune 500

companies on inbound and outbound sales calls.

“The companies we work with every day are worldwide

companies with billion-dollar market caps,” he said.

Access Direct was bought by Precision Response Corporation

(PRC) in 2000, and Mr. Cardella became CEO

before retiring from the firm in 2004. PRC closed its

Coralville call center in 2006.

With his new firm, Mr. Cardella has tried to open call

centers in towns where Access Direct once operated.

“We’ve tried to remain in those communities,” he said.

TLC & Associates operates call centers in Cedar Rapids,

Coralville, Keokuk, Marshalltown and Cedar Falls, and

opened a Grinnell location last year. The company employs

800 people, but expects to be up to 1,000 workers by July.

“We’ll continue to expand our footprint throughout

Iowa,” Mr. Cardella said. Since the company’s inception,

each call center has expanded and now employs 60-200

workers each.

“We’re definitely hiring a lot of people,” he said. “We

consistently have had a great workforce, we have intelligent

people, we have a strong work ethic and those are

hard to find outside of Iowa.”

What’s happened since:

With a 919 percent two-year growth rate in 2010, Thomas

L. Cardella & Associates was easily “fastest of the fast”

in the first decade of the Corridor Business Journal’s

Fastest Growing Companies competition.

Founder and President Tom Cardella credits the company’s

people and location for much of its success in the

customer contact center industry, which included another

high appearance on the Fastest list in 2011.

“We’re about six times larger in revenue than when

we won our first Fastest Growing Companies [award]

in 2010,” Mr. Cardella said. TLC & Associates has been

ranked the ninth-largest integrated contact center operator

in the United States, and Mr. Cardella thinks “the

future’s really bright right now.”

Hiring the right people has made the difference for

TLC & Associates, Mr. Cardella said.

“We opened this company specifically in Iowa to capitalize

on the work ethic and the culture of our folks,”

Mr. Cardella said. “That translates to our clients’ customers.

In the last 12 months, we’ve probably spoken to 12

million to 14 million people on the phone. Every one of

those calls has to be as good as the last, or you get a bad

reputation in the industry. It’s rare that I ever get a client

complaining about a poor phone call, and that just says

something about the quality of our name in the industry.”

TLC & Associates employs more than 1,000 in

Iowa at customer contact centers in Cedar Rapids,

Keokuk, Marshalltown and Ottumwa. It also opened

a smaller contact center in the Dominican Republic

this spring, which it plans to grow to add Spanish and

14 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


gigi@corridorbiznews.com

Thomas Cardella, founder and president of Thomas L. Cardella & Associates, speaks after accepting

the Fastest Growing Company award at breakfast last week at the Cedar Rapids Marriott.

PAGE 3

PAGE 5

CARDELLA continues on page 12

johnk@corridorbiznews.com

AIRPORT continues on page 4

ST

Corridor’s

$1.50

By Gigi Wood

It’s all about the basics.

That’s what the fastest-growing company

in the Corridor practices on a daily basis

and is how it beats the competition.

“We really focus on the basics each and

every day,” said Thomas Cardella,

founder and president of Thomas L.

Cardella & Associates, which debuted on

the Fastest Growing Companies list with

919 percent growth.

To apply for a spot on the Fastest

Growing Companies list, businesses had

to earn at least $350,000 annually and

were ranked based on the percentage

increase in revenue experienced from

2005 to 2007. Companies submitted tax

forms or audit statements to Honkamp

Krueger & Co., which tabulated the results.

The Corridor Business Journal began the list

in 2008, when the now-closed Asoyia

ranked first with 856 percent growth. In

2009, Bochner Chocolates was ranked No.

1 with 427 percent growth.

The top 15 companies on the list were

recognized at a breakfast May 25 at the

Cedar Rapids Marriott. Mr. Cardella attributed

his company’s success to his workforce.

“The spirit of my team, which I’m sure

is the spirit of everyone’s in this room, is

that they’re extremely hard working, they

put in hours that you couldn’t ask anyone

to put in, because that’s how they feel

about the company,” he said.

He wants that enthusiasm to carry over

to management.

“When I’m hiring for our management

team, the first thing I look for is do they

have passion, I look for fire in the belly,”

he said. “I want people who feel from

down here (pointing at stomach) not from

CEDAR RAPIDS/IOWA CITY CORRIDOR’S INDEPENDENT LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY

CORRIDOR

‘A fire in the belly’

FOCUS:

FASTEST GROWING

COMPANIES

Featuring the CBJ List

of Fastest Growing

Companies

JOHN RICHARD

up here (pointing at head).”

Additional awards

Cardella & Associates began opening call

centers in Iowa in 2007 and has been racking

up the awards during the past few

Optimism increases

The Corridor Poll finds

positive signs about the

local economy.

Another award

Founders of Iowa City startup

J&J Solutions named

Entrepreneurs of the Year.

years. It was named the “Best in Class Call

Center” last year and founder Mr. Cardella

was recently named first runner-up for

Call Center Leader of the Year award by

the International Quality and Productivity

Center, (IQPC) an industry organization.

“The interesting thing about that is

IQPC had never awarded that to the vendor

side of the business, typically those

have only gone to companies with internal

call centers; so we beat out companies like

FedEx Latin America, Nikon, a couple

major insurance companies, we beat out

some major talent,” Mr. Cardella said. “We

attribute that to how we treat our clients

and how we conduct our business.”

Bradshaw begins at

airport June 28

By John Kenyon

May 31 - June 6, 2010

CORRIDOR

Expanding

air service

top priority

for director

Expanding air service, addressing the perception

of high fares and marketing what it

has to offer are among the first tasks for

Tim Bradshaw, the new airport director for

The Eastern Iowa Airport.

“I intend to meet with our business

partners in the community,” he said. “To

show them what we can accomplish, and

work with them to get the service they want

and meet their business needs.”

Mr. Bradshaw was named last week and

will start on June 28. He replaces Dan

Mann, who left in late January after

announcing his resignation at the end of

2009. Mr. Bradshaw is currently the deputy

executive director and chief operating officer

for the Louisville Regional Airport

Authority in Louisville, Ky.

He will earn $141,086 annually, which

is the same salary that Mr. Mann was earning

when he left.

He said air service is the most-talked

about aspect of every airport, and that The

Eastern Iowa Airport has a good foundation

there. Still, there is room for expansion,

he said, noting that an analysis of the

final destination for travelers departing

from Cedar Rapids supports the idea that

some direct flights could be added.

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

Fastest Growing Companies 2010

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 07-09)

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Thomas L. Cardella & Associates Cedar Rapids 919

2 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 177

3 SecurityCoverage Cedar Rapids 168

4 AES Corp./AE Systems Corp. Cedar Rapids 138

5 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 126

6 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 123

7 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 75

8 Service Master Avenue

of the Saints Marion 67

9 Expense Reduction Analysts Inc. Hiawatha 66

10 Involta LLC Cedar Rapids 60

11 Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 35

12 Innomatix LLC Iowa City 31

13 TMone Iowa City 28

14 RuffaloCody Cedar Rapids 26

15 Bankers Trust Co. Cedar Rapids 25

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

French-speaking agents, and is aiming to open a satellite

office later this summer in Denver.

As Mr. Cardella spoke with the CBJ in March, TLC & Associates

was also preparing to announce a contract with a home warranty

company that will bring 75-100 additional jobs into Iowa.

He said the company is looking at expanding one existing Iowa

location, and has been in conversations with economic development

leaders in Kentucky and West Virginia about opening

customer contact centers in areas of high unemployment.

Having an experienced team has lowered the challenge factor

of executing on TLC’s strategic plan, Mr. Cardella said, noting

that some members of its core management team “have been

together for 20 years now.” But the company has also had to

work harder for growth because the market isn’t growing as fast.

TLC has focused on providing customers with accountability

and value, Mr. Cardella said, and has benefited from

strong word-of-mouth advertising among prospective clients.

Mr. Cardella doesn’t see TLC’s run ending anytime soon.

Because it has no outside investors, it’s under no timetable to

sell out, and Mr. Cardella says he likes the people part of the

business. He has praise both for the company’s older workers,

some of whom are in their 60s and 70s, and for the new

contingent of high school students that the company brought

in for evening work last year. He’s also getting to know more

international employees.

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

and I get to meet people all over the U.S. and the world, so I

learn different perspectives from knowing those people.”

– Dave DeWitte

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 15


2011’S FASTE

MediRevv CEO Chris Klitgaard in his Coralville office earlier this year.

MediRevv

(Precision Revenue Strategies)

Based in Coralville

Established in 2007

292.2% growth (5 times on list)

What we wrote then:

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

Revenue Strategies (PRS), a Coralville-based health care revenue cycle

company. Basically, PRS takes the outstanding bills that patients

aren’t paying their doctors or hospitals and works with the patients

to get those bills paid.

“We are strictly focused on helping providers with insurance receivables

or insurance claims that have gone unpaid,” said President

Chris Klitgaard. “What happens a lot of times is providers, hospitals

or physician groups, can’t staff 100 percent of that volume that

comes through. What inevitably occurs is that there are a certain

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

just never touch.”

Most company leaders will credit their employees with the business’

success. For PRS, its employees are the mainstay of the company.

“There are two or three things that we sell everyday here; first is

our people,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “Ninety percent of our people have

college degrees. And while that in and of itself isn’t necessarily the

end all be all, we’re trying to get a more articulate, more

professional, more analytical person who can understand

how insurance companies work, such that they can take

the benefits a patient has, and explain to a patient when

we call to ask them for their balance owed.”

Workers are such an important part of the equation

at PRS, the employee culture manual is based off Tony

Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness,” which outlines

Zappos’ model for improving profits by improving

corporate culture. Last year, when employees asked for

more paid time off, Mr. Klitgaard doubled it. When they

requested an employee shower to rinse off following

lunchtime workouts, he declined, only because there is

no room for one in the facility.

The method seems to work. PRS started in 2007 with

six employees. Now it has 70. The company has yet to

advertise for a job opening because every hire has been

generated by employees recommending the company to

friends and family.

Part of PRS’ competitive edge also comes from its

willingness to outline its costs to clients.

“When we go price out on a deal or bid out a deal or

provide an estimate, starting from the financial piece, we

show our cost model to these providers so they know exactly

what they’re paying for,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “That’s

something that a lot of people in this [industry] simply

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

me so bad.”

Mr. Klitgaard has high hopes for PRS looking forward.

“We’re a little over a $4 million company now,” he

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

10 years. That would put us as one of the larger companies

in this space. Not the largest, but the top 30 percent,

top 40 percent.”

What’s happened since:

Things began to change quickly for Precision Revenue

Strategies after it was named the Corridor’s Fastest

Growing Company in 2011. That July, the company rebranded,

changing its name to MediRevv.

The name reflects the company’s market in medical

revenue, while the two Vs represent a revved-up engine,

CEO Chris Klitgaard said.

In 2012, business “started booming,” and MediRevv

added more employees, Mr. Klitgaard said. That September,

the company moved its operations from its home at

the corner of Highway 965 and Oakdale Boulevard to

its current location a half mile away, at 2600 University

Parkway.

“We needed a big footprint and there weren’t a lot

of options,” he said. “We wanted to stay in the Iowa

16 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


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

were honored at the Fastest Growing Companies breakfast May 24.

FaSTeST continues on page 4

COraLviLLe continues on page 16

PAGE 3

PAGE 15

ST

Corridor’s

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

john richard

By Gigi Wood

gigi@corridorbusiness.com

It’s as easy as A, B, C.

Readers of the Corridor Business Journal

encounter a lot of acronyms and industry

terms in their weekly issues. Phrases such

as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) are fairly

easy to understand.

Talk like, “Internet retailer of ratchet

straps” starts to become a little more complicated

when reading about companies

such as Clickstop. It took awhile to under-

COrriDOr

Precision Revenue Strategies No. 1 on list

stand the concept of “rugged tablet PCs”

Coralville-based

that Mobile Demand sells. Now, most

people know about, or even own, tablets.

company is a UI

There’s a bit of a learning curve. But

that’s the price, or rather, benefit of be-

spinoff, of sorts

coming versed in the Corridor’s most innovative

and fastest growing companies.

Twenty of those companies were celebrated

May 24 at the Coralville Marriott,

during the 2011 Fastest Growing Companies

breakfast hosted by the CBJ.

Within this issue, the CBJ unveils the

top 20 Fastest Growing Companies for

the year. To earn a spot on the list, businesses

had to meet a number of criteria.

First, companies had to earn at least

$350,000 annually. Those companies

then submitted three years of tax forms

or audit statements to Honkamp Krueger

& Co., a Hiawatha-based accounting

firm, which independently tabulated the

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

results. The winners were selected based

on their growth during the previous

three years.

The list was started in 2008, when the

now-closed soybean-oil-producer Asoyia

ranked first with 856 percent growth.

Bochner Chocolates was ranked No. 1 in

2009, with 427 percent of growth.

Interesting trends surfaced in this

FOCUS:

Fastest

Companies

Featuring the CBJ List of

Fastest Companies

JOHNSON COUNTY

Property buys

raise ire in

residents,

officials

Coralville council

calls them necessary

By Gigi Wood

gigi@corridorbusiness.com

Area residents during the past two weeks

witnessed first-hand the process of government,

as well as media, when reports

surfaced about three property purchases

in and near Coralville.

The Coralville City Council published

its meeting agenda on May 20, prompting

media reports about three property purchases

on the docket.

First up was the purchase of 723 Edgewater

Dr., the last residence remaining

along the Iowa River near the Coralville

Marriott. The city has been buying out

the properties since the flood of 2008. According

to federal flood regulations, the

land cannot be redeveloped.

“We can’t develop it because we used

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management

Agency) funds to buy it; it will be all open

space,” said Coralville Councilor John

Lundell.

Mark Brown, owner of 723 Edgewater

Dr., his father’s home, has been the lone

holdout during the buyout process. The

other homes have been demolished and

crews have raised the road to serve as an

earthen berm during future flooding. Additional

work this summer will add additional

mitigation improvements to the

On the go

Clickstop President Tim

Guenther shares the secrets

of his company’s success.

Noodle house open

Noodles & Co. opens location

in Coralville.

Fastest Growing Companies 2011

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 08-10)

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Precision Revenue Strategies Inc. Coralville 292.2

2 Health Solutions LLC Hiawatha 274.7

3 Skywalk Group Cedar Rapids 212.1

4 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 179.9

5 MindFire Communications Inc. Cedar Rapids 127.6

6 MobileDemand Hiawatha 119.4

7 Thomas L. Cardella & Associates Cedar Rapids 105.0

8 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 87.5

9 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha 84.6

10 Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 73.7

11 HR Green Cedar Rapids 71.9

12 Children’s Center for Therapy Iowa City 54.6

13 MD Orthopaedics Wayland 49.7

14 Geonetric Cedar Rapids 47.8

15 TMone Iowa City 43.7

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

City-Coralville area.”

By September 2014, the company had grown so much

that it needed more space, and built a second building

next door. The company leases its buildings and may be

looking for more space in the future as it continues to

expand, Mr. Klitgaard said.

MediRevv had 70 employees when it was named the

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company in 2011; it now employs

300 more, and Mr. Klitgaard expects that number

to hit 425 by the middle of this year.

As word of MediRevv’s success has spread, so has its

business. The company had about a dozen contracts in

2011; it now has 55 contracts nationwide. Keeping up

with changes in health care, MediRevv launched a new

coding division launched four years ago and also has a

full business outsourcing division.

Its continual reinvention and growth has kept the company

in the Corridor’s Fastest Growing ranks. It marked

its fifth-consecutive appearance on the list this year with a

No. 24 ranking and 42.3 percent revenue growth.

“We have to innovate with the constant evolution of

the industry,” Mr. Klitgaard said. “Our most important

aspects are partners, people and performance.”

- Angela Holmes

Hanna Plumbing & Heating

would like to congratulate

all the fastest growing

companies honored by the

Corridor Business Journal!

319.377.2809

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 17


2012’S FASTE

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

2012 & 2014’s Fastest

Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc.

Located in Hiawatha

Established in 2005

419.8% growth (5 times on list)

What we wrote in 2014:

“No other company has claimed the Corridor’s Business Journal’s

Fastest Growing Company title twice, let alone twice in three

years – the new mark recorded by Midwest Microwave Solutions.

With revenue growth of 419.8 percent from 2011-2013, MMS

claimed top honors at the 2014 growth recognition event May

20 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott, edging out Premier Staffing Inc.

“Our continued growth is based more on name recognition

because we’ve had great success in the field,” President Phil

Rezin told the CBJ. “Midwest Microwave Solutions has products

deployed worldwide, and the products we’ve had in Afghanistan

the last three years have operated flawlessly.”

The company was in first place in 2012 with growth of more

than 516 percent and in fourth place in 2013 with growth of

176.2 percent.

Products from Midwest Microwave Solutions allow custom-

ers to scan any communication band in existence, from microwave

data links to garage door opener signals, Mr. Rezin

said. They are mainstay tools used in gathering signal information

to detect and analyze threats.

“Knowing that our product has saved lives by intercepting

a signal – that makes you feel good,” Mr. Rezin said.

The company, which started with only three products,

continued to add them in 2013, bringing the total in its catalog

to 41. Many of the newer products modify previous designs

to extend the frequency range and add capabilities.

To the uninformed eye, the products appear as metal boxes

with heat sinks, cable ports and an occasional switch or

indicator light. Most of them are integrated by government

customers into larger systems that monitor and analyze signals

for threats. Nearly all of the orders are from government

suppliers or original equipment manufacturers, and none of

Midwest Microwave Solutions’ products are exported.

MMS currently employs 23 in its 10,000-square-foot facility.

The staff is a carefully hand-picked team of experienced radio

frequency engineers and other specialists, Mr. Rezin said,

calling them “the cream of the crop.”

What’s happened since:

Midwest Microwave Solutions this year returned to the CBJ’s

Fastest Growing Companies list for the fifth time in six years,

coming in at No. 9 with 109 percent growth.

The company’s appearance streak might have been a per-

18 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


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

high performance receiver products for government and large corporation clients. The company

attributes its growth to its quick turnaround time for production and its highly-skilled workforce.

FAStESt continues on page 4

Hiawatha • Founded: 2005

www.mms-rf.com • 1st year on the list

PAGE 3

PAGE 7

ST

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2012

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 09-11)

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

CORALVILLE

MMS: Radioing in at No. 1

Midwest Microwave

Solutions debuts at

No. 1 on list

By Gigi Wood

gigi@corridorbusiness.com

If they tell you what they produce, they

would have to kill you.

That may be an exaggeration, but Midwest

Microwave Solutions’ products are

very James Bond. Simply put, Midwest

Microwave produces highly-sophisticated

radios for the government and large corporations.

Since their start in 2005, the

company has grown from two employees

to 16 and is so busy, it has to turn down

orders for new designs from customers.

Midwest Microwave was honored May

22 at the Corridor Business Journal’s 2012

Fastest Growing Companies award breakfast

for coming in first place, with 516.1

percent growth, amongst this year’s top

25 fastest growing companies.

This issue of the CBJ is dedicated to the

top 25 Fastest Growing Companies of the

year, which were unveiled last week at the

Coralville Marriott.

To earn a spot on the list, businesses

had to meet a number of criteria. First,

companies had to earn at least $350,000

from 2009-2011. Those companies then

submitted three years of tax forms or audit

statements to Honkamp Krueger & Co., a

Hiawatha-based accounting firm, which

independently tabulated the results. The

winners were selected based on their

growth rate.

john richard

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

Three companies, Clickstop, TMone

and Geonetric, have now appeared on the

list four times since it began in 2008.

Appearing on the list for the first time,

Midwest Microwave is a privately-held

small business engaged in design and

manufacture of high performance receiver

products. Those receiver products give

customers the capability of gathering intelligence

about signals that are present in

the airwaves.

FOCUS:

Fastest growing

companies

Featuring the CBJ List

of Fastest Growing

Companies

#1

516.1%

growth

Midwest Microwave

Solutions

Keep growing

Involta CEO Bruce Lehrman

named the Entrepreneur of

the year.

First pitch

Entrepreneurs pitch their

ideas at Pitch & Grow event.

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 516.1

2 MobileDemand Hiawatha 421.4

3 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 199.3

4 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 189.1

5 Lattice Communications Inc. Fairfax 186.3

6 Genova Technologies Inc. Cedar Rapids 146.4

7 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 146.2

8 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha 142.3

9 Health Solutions LLC Hiawatha 131

10 Tri County Enterprises Inc. Cedar Rapids 110

11 TMone Iowa City 103

12 MindFire Communications Inc. Cedar Rapids 89

13 Raining Rose Cedar Rapids 82.4

14 World Trend Financial Iowa City 79.4

15 Circle Computer Resources Inc. Cedar Rapids 70.6

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

fect six-for-six if it had entered the competition in 2016,

said President Phil Rezin, but a 2015 acquisition by aerospace

and electronics conglomerate HEICO led MMS to

temporarily keep a low profile.

HEICO is a $1.3 billion company based in Florida with

products found on large commercial aircraft, regional and

business aircraft and a variety of military systems. MMS

joined HEICO’s Electronic Technologies Group, which

counts nearly 19 facilities around the country and nearly

1,800 employees, according to the company.

HEICO acquired 80.1 percent of MMS in the deal, but

other than some accounting procedures, not much has

changed operationally, according to Mr. Rezin.

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

I’m still the president and have full control over running

the business,” Mr. Rezin said, adding that the only

substantial difference is that “we’re now a large corporation,

rather than a small business.”

MMS has seen significant growth in recent years, as

some of its newest designs have been accepted into larger

defense programs with the Army and Marines, groups

typically outside of the company’s traditional market

space. It also benefited from the addition of transmitters

to its lineup in 2014 – a move that the company “resisted

for a while” to focus on its core technologies, but has since

MMS PAGE 22

2015

2014

2013

2012

2008

Growing

with the Corridor

over the past

10 years!

THANK YOU!

www.worldtrendfps.com

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 19


2013’S FASTE

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

Lattice Communications

Based in Fairfax

Established 2004

325.2% growth (2 times on list)

What we wrote then:

“Fairfax-based Lattice came in at No. 1 on the Fastest Growing

Companies list with 325 percent growth between 2010-2012. Last

year, Lattice debuted on the Fastest Growing Companies list with

186 percent growth and had 35 employees. The company now employs

50 people.

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

said Bruce Leventhal, Lattice owner and president. “It’s

very rare that we probably all take a minute to sit back and relax.”

With more than 20 locations across the United States, Lattice

Communications remains the largest stocking dealer of telecommunications

products. The company deals in new and refurbished telecommunications

shelters, cabinets, power equipment fire suppression,

HVAC and generators with new monitoring systems to ensure

equipment reliability.

The company also produces its own line of custom concrete shelters

to meet its clients’ project needs.

Mr. Leventhal addressed his staff at the Fastest Growing Companies

event, noting their talent and persistence have allowed the

company to grow.

20 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary

“I’m incredibly lucky to have you guys alongside. I

wanted to take a minute to say thank you to you guys for

the craziness and your hard work,” he said.

The growth has been consistent over the past few

years, with Lattice being named No. 5 on the list in 2012.

In the midst of a challenging economic climate, Lattice

still managed to triple its revenue and double its workforce

in 2011.

One of the reasons for the quick growth is the fiber

optic cable installation recently added by the company.

Lattice offers aerial, underground and indoor fiber installation

to help increase bandwidth, speed up connectivity

and reduce costs. It also provides its own in-house

turn-key construction services across the U.S. including

civil, concrete, electrical and project management.

“We’re a very entrepreneurial company,” said Kendra

Fish, Lattice’s director of marketing. “Our growth is really

dependent on our customer’s needs and we challenge

ourselves to go above and beyond for them.”

What’s happened since:

Despite making the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list

twice, Lattice Communications didn’t survive.

The road ended somewhat abruptly in 2015 when

the company sustained more than $2.5 million in flood

damage to its property at 98 W. Cemetery Road in Fairfax.

That triggered a series of financial events that led to a

lender-directed sale of the company’s assets.


PAGE 29

PAGE 3

$1.50 I WWW.CORRIDORBUSINESS.COM I A LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY IN IOWA’S CREATIVE CORRIDOR I MAY 27 - JUNE 2, 2013

Bruce Leventhal, owner and president of Lattice Communications, speaks during the Corridor Business Journals Fastest Growing Companies

event May 21. Lattice, based in Fairfax, was No. 1 on the list.

LATTICE CONTINUES ON PAGE 19

Fairfax I Founded: 2004

www.latticebiz.com I 2nd time on the list

PAGE 20

ST

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2013

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 10-12)

Farmers Market

Markets open

across Eastern Iowa.

25 Corridor companies

awarded for growth

By Pat Shaver

pat@corridorbusiness.com

CORALVILLE—Lattice Communications has grown more

than any other local company.

Fairfax-based Lattice was recognized for coming in at

No. 1 on the Fastest Growing Companies list the Corridor

Business Journal’s event with the same name on May 21.

The company reported 325 percent growth between

2010-2012. Last year, Lattice debuted on the Fastest Growing

Companies list with 186 percent growth and had 35

employees. Lattice now employs 50 people.

“It really is a nice moment to take a breath and enjoy

our accomplishments,” said Bruce Leventhal, Lattice

owner and president. “It’s very rare that we probably all

take a minute to sit back and relax.”

With more than 20 locations across the United States,

Lattice Communications remains the largest stocking

dealer of telecommunications products.

Lattice is a dealer of new and refurbished telecommunications

shelters, cabinets, power equipment including

rectifiers, power supply, fire suppression and HVAC and

generators with new monitoring systems to ensure equipment

reliability. The company produces its own line of

custom concrete shelters to meet its client’s projects demanding

needs.

The Fastest Growing Companies event took place at the

Coralville Marriott and honored the 25 companies in the

Corridor. Companies had to earn at least $350,000 annually

and were ranked based on the percentage increase in

revenue experienced from 2010-2012.

Of the 25 companies, 13 were new to the Fastest Growing

Companies list. This is the sixth year the Corridor Business

Journal has compiled the list.

Mr. Leventhal addressed his staff, noting their talent

and persistence have allowed the company to grow.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have you guys alongside. I

wanted to take a minute to say thank you to you guys for

the craziness and your hard work,” he said.

The growth has been consistent over the past few years

and last year Lattice was named the fifth on the list. In the

midst of a challenging economic climate, Lattice tripled

revenue and doubled its workforce in 2011.

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

FOCUS:

FASTEST

GROWING

COMPANIES

Featuring the CBJ List of

Fastest Growing Companies

Dawn Ainger

Genova CEO

grows IT business.

Lattice Communications No. 1

BILL ADAMS

#1

325.2%

growth

Lattice Communications

Fastest

Growing

Companies

Reception

Check out the

event photos

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Lattice Communications Inc. Fairfax 325.2

2 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 224.8

3 MD Molding Wayland 185

4 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 176.2

5 Genova Technologies Inc. Cedar Rapids 171.4

6 Select Structural Engineering Cedar Rapids 139.3

7 MobileDemand Hiawatha 139.2

8 Involta Cedar Rapids 109.3

9 Crystal Group Inc. Hiawatha 108.6

10 MediRevv Inc. Coralville 96.8

11 Circle Computer Resources Inc. Cedar Rapids 95.2

12 ESP International Cedar Rapids 88.7

13 LimoLink Marion 87.9

14 Cedar Ridge Vineyards Swisher 86.5

15 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 85.1

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

Although many jobs were lost, not all was dark after

the closing. Mr. Leventhal noted in a 2015 interview that

several managers and employees started their own companies

after the wind-down of Lattice Communications.

They included Dennis Bruce, who relaunched a former

company, BDC Group, making precast concrete shelters

for telecommunications gear, and Al Meyer, who started

Corridor Network Construction, a fiber optic network design

and construction firm.

Colin Brunner started CBTel, a supplier of telecommunications

shelters, towers and generators in Wyoming,

and Jared Nelson started Core Electric, a provider of telecommunications

and electrical installation services.

Mr. Leventhal said the startup trend that followed the

closing reflected the entrepreneurial spirit of the company’s

workforce.

One of the first employees of Lattice, Carter Kramer,

had gone on to start his own company, Cellsite Solutions,

almost five years before Lattice closed. Mr. Kramer ended

up buying most of the assets of Lattice, with which Cellsite

competed in some markets.

Mr. Leventhal moved following the closure to the Chicago

area, where he has worked in consulting with private

equity firms and startups to mid-market organizations.

The former Lattice Communications property became

home to a traffic control equipment company, Advanced

Traffic Control.

– Dave DeWitte

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 21


2014’S FASTE

A look inside Midwest Microwave Solution’s Hiawatha facility earlier this year.

2012 & 2014’s Fastest

Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc.

Located in Hiawatha

Established in 2005

419.8% growth (5 times on the list)

MMS PAGE 19

become “a source of great growth,” Mr. Rezin said.

The company now counts 76 products in its catalog, many of

which have been developed based on customers’ requests for

enhanced capabilities.

“When you have less men on the ground, you need more

ears,” Mr. Rezin said. “I don’t see a slowdown in our markets.”

Despite continual growth, MMS hasn’t increased its footprint

much. The company doubled the size of its shop in 2012, and

this year remodeled around 1,000 square feet to provide executive

offices and more space for engineers, but has only added

about five employees since its 2014 award. Mr. Rezin chalks that

up to the company’s efficient staff and relatively flat hierarchy.

“I was used to being on the floor with our engineers,” he

said. “Still not sure if I like the whole office thing.”

– Adam Moore

The company doubled

the size of its shop

in 2012, and this year

remodeled around

1,000 square feet to

provide executive

offices and more space

for engineers, but has

only added about five

employees since its

2014 award.

22 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


Nate Kaeding talks

about kicking up biz.

PAGE 31

$1.50 I WWW.CORRIDORBUSINESS.COM I A LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY IN IOWA’S CREATIVE CORRIDOR I MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2014

Phil Rezin, CEO of Midwest Microwave Solutions, talked about pitfalls to avoid when you’re technologists starting a business venture as he accepted the

2014 Fastest Growing Companies Award on May 20. He urged technologists who lack a broad foundation in business to get help from experienced professionals

outside the company, and to be sure not to neglect their own quality of life.

MIDWEST CONTINUES ON PAGE 6

Eco Lips’ Shriver takes

top award.

PAGE 3

Hiawatha I Founded: 2005

www.mms-rf.com I 3rd time on the list

CBJ spotlights the top 25.

PAGE 5

ST

Corridor’s

EntreFest

Midwest Microwave Solutions repeats

Hiawatha company takes

Fastest Growing honors again

By Dave DeWitte

dave@corridorbusiness.com

CEDAR RAPIDS—No other company has claimed the

Corridor’s Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Company

title twice, let alone twice in three years – the new mark

recorded by Midwest Microwave Solutions.

With revenue growth of 419.8 percent from 2011-

2013, Midwest Microwave Solutions claimed top honors

at the 2014 growth recognition event May 20 at the Cedar

Rapids Marriott, edging out Premier Staffing Inc. with

418.3 percent growth.

“Our continued growth is based more on name recognition

because we’ve had great success in the field,” CEO

Phil Rezin said in an interview. “Midwest Microwave Solutions

has products deployed worldwide, and the products

we’ve had in Afghanistan the last three years have

operated flawlessly.”

The company was in first place in 2012 with growth of

more than 516 percent and in fourth place in 2013 with

growth of 176.2 percent.

A total of 25 companies were honored at the May

20 event based on confidential evaluations provided by

Honkamp Krueger of tax return information submitted

by the companies. The list included four – World Trend

Financial, Ready Wireless, Circle Computer Resources

and Involta – that have made the list four times.

One of the 2014 Fastest Growing winners, TrueNorth

Companies, was the first to be honored by the Corridor

Business Journal in three categories – Largest Privately

Held Companies, Fastest Growing Companies and Coolest

Places to Work.

Rapid growth has characterized Midwest Microwave

Solutions since its inception in 2005 as a radio frequency

consulting and prototyping company by Mr. Rezin and

Steve Wilson. They began producing a line of radio frequency

tuners and digitizers.

Mike Horn, a digital signal processer expert, joined

the company in 2009, and Midwest Microwave Solutions

JUSTIN TORNER

opened a small shop with 1,400 square feet of space in

Hiawatha.

Products from Midwest Microwave Solutions allow

customers to scan any communication band in existence,

from microwave data links to garage door opener signals,

Mr. Rezin said. They are mainstay tools used in gathering

signal information to detect and analyze threats.

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

FOCUS:

FASTEST GROWING

COMPANIES

Featuring the CBJ List of

Fastest Growing Companies

Entrepreneur

of the Year

#1

419.8%

growth

Midwest Microwave Solutions

Fastest

Growing

Companies

Fastest Growing Companies 2014

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 11-13)

RANK NAME

HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 419.8

2 Premier Staffing Inc. Hiawatha 418.3

3 MD Molding Wayland 351.7

4 Ahmann Properties Hiawatha 219.2

5 MediRevv Inc. Coralville 191.5

6 Infinity Contact Inc. Cedar Rapids 136.4

7 Health Solutions LLC Cedar Rapids 118.7

8 Involta Cedar Rapids 110.5

9 Bazooka Farmstar Inc. Washington 106.6

10 IMS Branded Solutions Marion 94.6

11 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 92.7

12 Neumiller Electric Iowa City 80.9

13 Innovative Software Engineering LLC Coralville 79

14 Eco Lips Cedar Rapids 76.7

15 Ready Wireless LLC Hiawatha 71.3

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

Our goal is to provide you with the best professional staffing solutions.

Job Seekers

Employers

Jobs

www.premierstaffing.com

319-730-3890 | 1905 N Center Point Rd. | Hiawatha, IA 52233

319-505-2733 | 2809 University Ave. | Waterloo, IA 50701

customerservice@premierstaffing.com

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 23


2015’S FASTE

General Manager Aaron Verhorevoort and Founder Scott Ramspott stand inside Spotix’ new facility in North Liberty earlier this year.

Spotix

Based in North Liberty

Established in 2011

283.6% growth (3 times on list)

What we wrote then:

“Few companies in the Corridor have experienced the rapid

growth of North Liberty-based Spotix Inc., which sells fireplaces,

fire pits, grills and related accessories to consumers and

retailers, and has seen its sales more than double since 2012.

The fuel for the company’s combustion? Online sales.

Named overall leader of the Corridor Business Journal’s

2015 Fastest Growing Companies list in its first year being honored,

Spotix achieved nearly 284 percent growth in revenue

from the 2012 calendar year to the close of 2014, with virtually

all of the company’s sales completed online.

Company founder and president Scott Ramspott said less

than 1 percent of Spotix’s sales take place in Iowa, despite

noteworthy local projects such as the fire pits at Vesta, Backpocket

Brewery and 30hop in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing.

“We truly are an e-commerce based company,” said Mr.

24 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary

Ramspott. “We can pick up and move anywhere.”

Spotix does have a showroom at its office in North Liberty,

which also houses about 60 percent of the company’s product

offerings. However, that addition, made in 2012, was installed

primarily to appease distributors that require stores to have

one to carry their products.

The company’s strong web sales have prompted demand

for additional employees, with plans in place to hire a web

traffic specialist, a digital marketing specialist and another

salesperson as soon as possible, Mr. Ramspott said.

General Manager Aaron Verhorevoort said a frequent misconception

exists in online retailing that unless someone is

making a purchase through Amazon or a major national retailer,

the operation presumably takes place in someone’s basement.

“There’s definitely a lot more that goes into it,” Mr. Verhorevoort

said. “It’s probably a pretty comparable set of challenges

that come from a regular walk-in customer. They’re different,

but at the end of the day, they’re just as hard to overcome.”

Among those challenges is making the shopping experience

as intuitive and efficient as possible. To accomplish that,

Mr. Verhorevoort helped redesign the company’s website in

order to minimize time-consuming email and phone commu-

SPOTIX PAGE 34


Joe Ahmann honored

PAGE 3

$2.00 I WWW.CORRIDORBUSINESS.COM I A LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY IN IOWA’S CREATIVE CORRIDOR I MAY 25 - 31, 2015

North Liberty I Founded: 2011

www.spotix.com I First time on list

SPOTIX ON PAGE 19

Roundup of local, regional events

PAGE 29

Spotix Founder and President Scott Ramspott accepts his company’s fastest growing award during

the May 19 awards breakfast, held at the Coralville Marriott.

ST

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2015

(Ranked by Percentage Revenue Increase from 12-14)

Entrepreneur

of the Year

Spotix named

fastest growing

North Liberty retailer’s online strategy ignites growth

By Chase Castle

30hop in Coralville’s Iowa River Landing.

chase@corridorbusiness.com

“We truly are an e-commerce based

company,” said Mr. Ramspott. “We can

Few companies in the Corridor have experienced

the rapid growth of North Liberty-

Spotix does have a showroom at its of-

pick up and move anywhere.”

based Spotix Inc., which sells fireplaces, fire fice in North Liberty, which also houses

pits, grills and related accessories to consumers

and retailers, and has seen its sales uct offerings. However, that addition,

about 60 percent of the company’s prod-

more than double since 2012.

made in 2012, was installed merely to

The fuel for the company’s combustion?

Online sales.

have one to carry their products.

appease distributors that require stores to

Named overall leader of the Corridor “That’s the long and the short of it,” Mr.

Business Journal’s 2015 Fastest Growing Ramspott said. “It came to fruition strictly

Companies list

so we could sell

in its first year

products online.”

being honored,

283.6% Those strong

Spotix achieved #1 growth web sales have

nearly 284 percent

growth in

mand for ad-

prompted de-

revenue from

Spotix

ditional employees,

with

the 2012 calendar

year to the

plans in place to

close of 2014,

hire a web traffic

specialist, a

with virtually all

of the company’s sales completed online. digital marketing specialist and another

salesperson as soon as possible, Mr.

A total of 25 companies were honored

at a May 19 awards breakfast, with rankings

based on confidential tax return in-

“So immediately, we have three posi-

Ramspott said.

formation submitted by the companies to tions we’d love to fill,” he said.

accounting firm Honkamp Krueger & Co. Although the company emphasizes

(See full list on page 6.)

the need for technical savvy in its hires,

Company founder and president Scott Mr. Ramspott said employee chemistry

and company culture are equally

Ramspott said less than 1 percent of

Spotix’s sales take place in Iowa, despite important – not just to Spotix, but to

noteworthy local projects such as the fire

pits at Vesta, Backpocket Brewery and

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

BILL ADAMS

See the rankings on page 6

Iowa Summer Travel

Also inside this edition:

Marco, Inc.

Streb Construction Company and

E&F Paving, LLC Celebrating 50 Years

The Greater Iowa City Home Builders

Association Builders News

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Spotix North Liberty 283.6

2 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 239.4

3 Bazooka Farmstar Inc. Washington 237.4

4 Premier Staffing Inc. Hiawatha 205.3

5 MediRevv Inc. Coralville 114.4

6 World Class Graphics & Displays Cedar Rapids 102.7

7 Ahmann Properties Hiawatha 91.7

8 Eco Lips Cedar Rapids 81.5

9 Health Solutions LLC Cedar Rapids 71.8

10 Sedna Warehousing LLC Iowa City 69.5

11 Fusion Architects Hiawatha 64.8

12 Sedna Logistics LLC Iowa City 64.3

13 TrueNorth Companies LLC Cedar Rapids 62.9

14 Perfect Game Incorporated Cedar Rapids 60.9

15 ProofreadingPal LLC Iowa City 56.4

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

Ahmann’s startup record hard to match

Joe Ahmann, accepting Ahmann Properties’ FGC award in 2015.

At the 2016 Fastest Growing Companies award ceremony, CBJ

Publisher John Lohman remarked that “there ought to be a special

Joe Ahmann Award,” for the individual starting the most companies

to make the Fastest Growing list.

No less than four companies started by Mr. Ahmann have landed

a spot on the prestigious list. He started out in 1991 with his

home design firm, Ahmann Design, and in 1994 launched Ahmann

Properties to maintain and manage office space for his own company

and others in Hiawatha.

In 2005, Mr. Ahmann created Fusion Architects to handle larger

projects requiring an architect’s stamp, and in 2008 started Compass

Commercial Services to offer design-build construction.

Mr. Ahmann was voted the CBJ’s Entrepreneur of the Year in

2015. In 2016, Ahmann-owned businesses took four spots on the

Fastest Growing list, with Fusion Architects ranking highest at No.

6 with 133.5 percent growth.

There’s no sitting still for Mr. Ahmann. He began 2017 by starting

Pivot Real Estate, which offers sales and leasing. It seems to

have a high likelihood of finding a place on the Fastest Growing

Companies list.

– Dave DeWitte

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 25


2016’S FASTE

“The Corridor’s Fastest

Growing list has been a

goal of mine for years, but

to be on the top of the list

is more than I ever could

have expected.”

- Jason Hall, Owner of Moxie Solar

Moxie Solar CEO Jason Hall, shown in a 2015 photo for the CBJ’s Entrepreneur 101 magazine.

Moxie Solar

Based in North Liberty

Established in 2008

536.27% growth (2 times on list)

What we wrote then:

“When Jason Hall started to grow weary of banking, he looked

to the outdoors for inspiration to enrich his life and possibly

his career. Nearly a decade later, the ensuing venture that’s become

Moxie Solar has grown beyond his wildest expectations.

The North Liberty-based installer of solar energy systems

now has about 25 employees, many of whom were the focus of

an acceptance speech Mr. Hall gave May 17 at the CBJ’s Fastest

Growing Companies awards breakfast, where Moxie Solar took

the title of the Corridor’s Fastest Growing Company for 2016.

Moxie Solar recorded a year-over-year revenue increase of

nearly 110 percent in 2015, and saw its revenues grow by a

whopping 536 percent from 2013-2015.

“The Corridor’s Fastest Growing list has been a goal of

mine for years, but to be on the top of the list is more than I

ever could have expected,” Mr. Hall said upon accepting the

Fastest Growing Companies award.

Despite a successful banking career – which included being

the youngest bank president in Iowa when he assumed

the role of market president with First American – Mr. Hall

“bit the bullet” by founding Moxie’s predecessor, Greenhall

Industries, in 2008.

In the company’s first four years, it primarily did efficiency

audits, helped businesses improve their energy efficiency

through things like lighting and sealing upgrades, and helped

facilitate rebates for customers from their utility providers.

In 2012, however, Greenhall hit a pivotal point in its development.

State lawmakers approved a solar income tax credit

that year that would supplement an existing federal program.

With federal tax credits in place to cover up to 30 percent of

solar project costs, and the state offering to match more than

half of the federal credits, Mr. Hall and his colleagues saw a

clear opportunity.

“At that point, we extinguished the old website and we focused

on solar,” Mr. Hall recalled.

The company already has several notable projects in its

portfolio, including a solar array atop Johnson County’s

multi-million dollar Secondary Roads Facility, which opened

last year on Melrose Avenue in Iowa City. Other clients include

Iowa Book in Iowa City and the Mason City Public Library.”

26 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


$2.00 I A LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESS WEEKLY IN IOWA’S CREATIVE CORRIDOR I MAY 23 - 29, 2016

THE GREATER IOWA CITY AREA HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION I www.iowacityhomes.com

Members Only Tour

June 3

Affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders & Home Builders A sociation of Iowa

teady job growth, affordable

home prices,

a tractive mortgage

interest rates and pent-up

demand wi l help the housing

market continue a gradual

upward trajectory in the year

ahead, a cording to economists

who participated in the

NAHB Spring Construction

Forecast Webinar.

Single-Family Sector Leads

Housing to Higher Ground

S

“Builders remain cautiously optimistic about market conditions,” factors that should make this year’s home sales the best in a decade:

said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “2016 should be the first • Household formations are projected to accelerate. Betw en 2008

year since the Great Rece sion in which the growth rate for singlefamily

production exc eds that of multifamily. And we s single-

formations than normal.

and 2014, the slowdown resulted in 5.1 million fewer household

family growth a celerating 2017 as the su ply chain mends and

we can expand production.”

• Purchase application show solid home sales that match demographics.

Steady job growth has bolstered consumer confidence and

rekindled housing demand. Nationa ly, payro l employment has

• More owners are cu rent on their mortgages, with fewer defaults

surpa sed its pre-rece sion peak by a modest margin; only a sma l

and le s foreclosures.

number of state stil lag behind those levels.

Solid job gains include rising salaries and wages.

• House prices are rising about 6% annua ly and a pear to be in

line with incomes and rents.

Looking a the forecast, single-family production is expected to

“Demographic tailwinds are helping to propel the housing market

post a 14% gain 2016 to 812,0 units and rise an additional 19%

forward,” said Kiefer.

to 964, 0 units 2017.

Freddie Mac is projecting 5.9 mi lion total home sales this year, the

Using the 2 0-2 03 period as healthy benchmark (when singlefamily

starts averaged 1.3 million units on an nual basis), single-

Regiona ly, Kiefer said that house price growth is the strongest in

highest level since 2 06, and 6.2 mi lion in 2017.

family production cu rently stands at 58% of normal activity. NAHB the South and West, with Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado

project single-family production wi l rise to 64% of normal by the and Florid all posting double-digit statewide house price a preciation

betw en December 2014 and December 2015.

fourth quarter of this year and climb to 7% of normal by th end of

2017.

On the multifamily side, production ran at 395, 0 units last year,

above the 31, 0 rate that is considered a norma level of production.

Multifamily starts expected to decline 4% to 379, 0 units

Also l oking below the national numbers, NAHB Senior Economist

Robert Denk said that housing market conditions are improv-

this year, and rise 6% to 402, 0 units in 2017.

ing acro s nation, but the pace of the recovery continues to vary

Residential remodeling activity is expected to increase 3.3% in by state and region.

2016 over last year, and rise an ditional 1.3% in 2017.

“A common theme has emerged,” said Denk. “The progre s of

market recovery is no longer a function of the boom-and-bust cycle

Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac, cited several

HOUSING, PAGE 7

The Forecast

Best Year Since 2 06

Back to Basics

JUNE 2016

7:00 - 8: 0 Breakfast at

UICCU, North Liberty

8: 0 - 5: 0 Tour Parade

Homes

1: 0 - 1:30 Lunch at Hi ls

Bank, North Liberty

Parade of Homes

June 4, 5, 7, 9,

1 and 12

Bike Tour of

Parade Homes

June 11

Remodelers Council

June 14 - N on

Board M eting

June 16 - N on

Iowa Va ley Habitat

for Humanity

Memorial Build

June 20 - 24

IC HBA Conference R om

IC HBA Conference Room

Hi ls, IA

North Liberty I Founded 2008

www.moxiesolar.com I First time on list

MOXIE PAGE 5

Look for The Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders

Association newsletter.

The focus topic will be Health Care: Data and Coding

and the CBJ List is Fitness Centers.

The CBJ Business of Life will explore regional

getaways for the summer months.

ST

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2016

(Ranked by Percentage Revenue Increase from 13-15)

Moxie Solar takes

title of 2016’s

Fastest Growing

Company

By Chase Castle

chase@corridorbusiness.com

When Jason Hall started to grow

weary of banking, he looked to the

outdoors for inspiration to enrich

his life and possibly his career. Nearly

a decade later, the ensuing venture

that’s become Moxie Solar has grown

beyond his wildest expectations.

The North Liberty-based installer

of solar energy systems now has

about 25 employees, many of whom

were the focus of the acceptance

speech Mr. Hall gave May 17 at the

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies

awards breakfast, where Moxie Solar

took the title of the Corridor’s Fastest

Growing Company for 2016.

Twenty-five companies were

honored at the event, with their

rankings based on confidential tax

information submitted to accounting

firm Honkamp Krueger & Co.

Moxie Solar recorded a yearover-year

revenue increase of nearly

110 percent in 2015, and saw its

revenues grow by 536 percent from

2013-2015.

“The Corridor’s Fastest Growing

list has been a goal of mine for years,

but to be on the top of the list is more

than I ever could have expected,” Mr.

Hall told event attendees at the Cedar

Rapids Marriott. “Everything I’ve

done prior to starting Moxie Solar

was with an existing business I stepped into

after it was already a successful operation.

Moxie Solar is different to me, in that we

didn’t take over from somebody else. Our

team fought and struggled to create a company

and a market – literally – that didn’t

exist previously.”

Prior to pursuing renewable energy, Mr.

Corridor Business Journal

845 Quarry Rd. Ste. 125

Coralville, IA 52241

Moxie Solar

shines

#1

However, su ply-side

headwinds led by a shortage

of construction lots and labor,

along with tight a ce s to

acquisition, construction and

development (AD&C) loans,

continue to hamper a more

robust recovery.

536.27%

growth

Moxie Solar

Inside

Hall earned a bachelor’s degree in finance

from the University of Northern Iowa. He

later gained first-hand knowledge about

business finance as a commercial credit

analyst, a mid-market lender, and as a correspondent

banker for Firstar, which later

acquired U.S. Bank and assumed its name.

Mr. Hall eventually left Firstar to lead

Next week’s CBJ

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Moxie Solar North Liberty 536.27

2 Papa’s Truck & Trailer Repair LLC Cedar Rapids 223.04

3 Mass Markets Iowa City 195.48

4 BerganKDV Cedar Rapids 194.13

5 Spotix North Liberty 169

6 Fusion Architects Inc. Hiawatha 133.52

7 Compass Commercial Services LLC Hiawatha 103.62

8 Converge Consulting Cedar Rapids 94.33

9 Hanna Plumbing & Heating Inc. Marion 82.49

10 World Class Graphics & Displays Cedar Rapids 81.38

11 Home Repair Team North Liberty 78.69

12 Tri-County Enterprises Inc. Cedar Rapids 75.94

13 Ready Mobile Hiawatha 71.65

14 Clickstop Inc. Urbana 70.93

15 Cyber Science 3D Coralville 67.43

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

What’s happened since:

Moxie Solar won the 2016 Fastest Growing title with the

fifth-fastest growth rate ever recorded in the CBJ’s competition,

and topped all but Sitler’s LED Supplies this year, with

growth of 225.45 percent.

Moxie could have what it takes to become a perennial presence

on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing list. The company in April

opened new sales offices in Cedar Rapids and Davenport, with

the Quad Cities region led by former University of Iowa Hawkeye

and NFL player, Julian Vandervelde. They’ll be joined soon by

another office in Austin, Texas – a big but studied jump based on

the market’s concentration of solar, favorable market incentives

and its ability to balance out the weather risks found in Iowa.

“We wanted to have another market that deconcentrates us

from that risk,” CEO Jason Hall said. “[Austin] looked like a

good market that would be good for us.”

The company has also completed its integration of Green

Transitions, a small Vinton-based solar firm Moxie acquired

in October of last year. Former Green Transitions founder and

CEO Brandon Yoder “has been going gangbusters,” since joining

Moxie, Mr. Hall said.

Over the last six months, the company has also started

Moxie Electric, which does electrical contracting work but solar

remains “far and away” the largest revenue source for the

company. Moxie had its best sales and installation month ever

in March, and is now pushing 40 employees.

“We’ve got the right people in the right places,” Mr. Hall

said. “We haven’t actually flexed the muscle in this machine

yet – 2017 will be the year.”

- Adam Moore

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 27


LEADERS

Riding the

e-commerce

wave

By Chase Castle

chase@corridorbusiness.com

Clickstop President Tim Guenther stands inside the company’s Urbana facility.

Clickstop, a CBJ

Fastest Growing

veteran, considers

new locales with

eye on distribution


Clickstop recorded

close to $30 million

in revenue last year

and is on pace to

earn about $36

million in 2017.

Clickstop’s headquarters in Urbana.

Since its founding around 2005, the e-retailer has

appeared on the CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies

list eight times – more than any company in the Corridor

– and the latest retail projections suggest that

streak will continue.

U.S. Department of Commerce data for the fourth

quarter of last year estimated a 14.3 percent increase

in online sales over the fourth quarter of 2015, compared

to an 8.3 percent increase in total retail sales

for the same period.

For Clickstop, which recorded close to $30 million

in revenue last year and is on pace to earn about

$36 million in 2017, the company’s flagship brand,

US Cargo Control, has been central to its success.

US Cargo Control is the largest of the five brands

the company owns and operates, offering rigging

supplies, flatbed truck products and moving supplies.

The brand accounts for approximately 85 percent

of the company’s overall sales, mainly from the

brand’s trucking and transportation products.

Clickstop manages its own sales teams, website

maintenance and shipping, and also does some light

manufacturing.

Founder and CEO Tim Guenther said that moving

forward, the company’s growth strategy likely

calls for the continued acquisition of smaller brands,

possibly as early as this year.

“The team operating those smaller brands is in a

situation where they’ll likely explore some acquisition

of e-commerce stores and brands,” Mr. Guenther

said.

Longer term, the company will also entertain acquisitions

related to its largest product line. An acquisition

related to US Cargo Control likely won’t happen

for 3-5 years, but could result in a new location, ideally

along the East or West coasts, Mr. Guenther said.

“Anything we acquire in another location probably

doesn’t have the resources to support our US

Cargo Control brand from a fulfillment center standpoint,”

he said. “So we’re interested in the East and

West Coast, but most of the things we’re exploring

from an acquisition standpoint are smaller and not

likely to include fulfillment.”

That doesn’t mean that expanding the company’s

shipping capabilities aren’t being considered, however.

If and when one of those coastal acquisitions is

made, the company will favor areas when it can build

its own distribution center. Alternatively, Clickstop

may seek an acquisition somewhere with existing

distribution services that it could partner with.

“Ideally, we’ll find an existing business that can add

value through acquisition, then also fulfill our customers

in that region with products we already sell,”

Mr. Guenther said. “We’re an opportunistic company,

CLICKSTOP PAGE 34

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 29


FGC BY THE N

INDUSTRY

(out of 100 companies overall)

CUSTOMER SERVICE------------------------------- 40

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES------------------------21

MANUFACTURING------------------------------------13

RETAIL----------------------------------------------------- 6

REAL ESTATE/DEVELOPMENT--------------------- 6

MEDICAL/HEALTH------------------------------------- 4

FINANCE/INSURANCE-------------------------------- 4

FOOD/RESTAURANT---------------------------------- 3

TRANSPORTATION------------------------------------ 3

WOMEN-LED

WOMEN-OWNED/LED

12%

MALE-OWNED/LED

88%

on

Lisbon

Iowa City

North Liberty

Coralville

Swisher

Washington

Fairfax

Urbana

Urbana

Riverside

LINN

Lisbon

Swisher

Marion

North Liberty Coralville

Washington

Hiawatha

Iowa City

Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids

Hiawatha

JONES

BENTON

Marion

IOWA

Hiawatha Hiawatha

Cedar Cedar Rapids Rapids

Lisbon

Marion

Iowa City North Liberty Coralville

Hiawatha

Fairfax

Marion Urbana

Hiawatha Cedar Rapids

Swisher

Lisbon

Marion

Hiawatha

Iowa City

Cedar Rapids

Lisbon

Marion

North Liberty

Hiawatha

Iowa City

Cedar Rapids

Lisbon

Marion

Hiawatha

WHAT CITIES ARE THE FASTEST?

Cedar Rapids

(Ranking the hometowns of the region’s Fastest Growing Companies)

Fairfax

Swisher

Iowa City

Marion Marion

North Liberty

North Liberty

Coralville

JOHNSON

Cedar Rapids

Lisbon

HiawathaLisbon

Riverside

Washington

Coralville

Iowa City

Lisbon Lisbon

Coralville

Swisher

Iowa City North North Liberty Liberty

Iowa City

Lisbon

Marion

Iowa Cit

Iowa City North Liberty

Fairfax

CEDAR

Urbana

Swisher Washington

Washington

Fairfax

Riverside

Swisher

North Liberty Coralville

Marion

Cedar Rapids

Lisbon

Hiawatha

Iowa City

Cedar North Liberty Rapids Coralville 49

Hiawatha 12

Iowa City 10

Marion 6

North Liberty 5

Coralville Lisbon 5

Washington 4

Marion

Iowa City

Swisher

Fairfax

Washington2

Wayland 2

Lisbon 1

Riverside 1

Sigourney 1

Swisher 1

North Liberty

Urbana 1

Coralville

Fairfax

Urbana

Riverside

WASHINGTON

Washington

Swisher Washington

Fairfax

Urbana

Riverside

30 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


UMBERS

FASTEST OF THE FAST

COMPANY NAME

TOP PERCENTAGES

Thomas L Cardella & Assoc. 919.00%

Asoyia 851.00%

Hybrid Transit Systems 818.00%

Express Auto Delivery 621.00%

Moxie Solar 536.27%

Midwest Microwave Solutions (2012) 516.10%

Bochner Chocolates 427.00%

MobileDemand 421.40%

Midwest Microwave Solutions (2014) 419.80%

Premier Staffing Inc. 418.30%

TO NOTE:

Midwest Microwave Solutions is the only company to be No. 1 twice

MobileDemand and Midwest Microwave Solutions had revenue

increase above 300% twice

6/12 Companies with revenue increase above 300% were No. 1

on the list that year

Spotix (2015) & MediRevv (2011) are the only two companies to

be named No. 1 with revenue increase less than 300%

SOLD OR CLOSED

SOLD OR MERGER - 7

PERMANENTLY

CLOSED - 3

REBRANDED - 2

ORIGINAL COMPANY - 88

Hybrid Transit Systems’ COO and Partner Gerald Moore,

President and CEO John Miller, and Partner Robert Helgens

pose for a photo at the company’s headquarters in Cedar Rapids

earlier this year. The transportation service provider reported

the third-fastest growth rate in the program’s first decade, with

818 percent growth in 2008.

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 31


2017’S FASTEST

Corridor’s Fastest Growing Companies 2017

(Ranked by percentage revenue increase from 14-16)

RANK NAME HOMETOWN PERCENTAGE GROWTH

1 Sitler’s LED Supplies Washington 289.99

2 Moxie Solar North Liberty 225.45

3 Higher Learning Technologies Coralville 190.27

4 Fiberutilities Group LLC Cedar Rapids 158.85

5 Katalyst Systems Impact Cedar Rapids 155.05

6 Ovation Networks Cedar Rapids 151.55

7 Spotix North Liberty 144.17

8 Ready Wireless Hiawatha 136.9

9 Midwest Microwave Solutions Inc. Hiawatha 109.19

10 Converge Consulting Cedar Rapids 107.15

11 Ahmann Design Hiawatha 88.83

12 Involta Cedar Rapids 84.54

13 Hardscape Solutions of Iowa Inc. Cedar Rapids 76.31

14 de Novo Marketing Cedar Rapids 71.72

15 RKSJS Online DBA: IAHomes

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

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STRATEGIES PAGE 7

the business person.”

Mr. Nelson is acutely aware of that need because it’s

often one of the things that brings clients to the EDC.

The center can connect company founders with business

expertise and resources that can help if they aren’t

ready to bring in an outsider to lead. Sometimes the answer

can be hiring consultants, or even additional training

for the owner to help them deal with challenges.

“Business get caught in their own forest,” Mr. Nelson

said. “They don’t objectively see their business

from the outside, and that’s why businesses hire consultants

all the time.”

Focus & financing

TrueNorth Companies, a three-time member of the

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list, has been one of

the companies that exemplifies sustained, rapid growth.

It has kept its focus by emphasizing four “pillars” of its

business model: profitable operation, client experience,

dynamic culture and business development. Progress

in each of those areas is carefully tracked, down to the

individual employee.

TrueNorth’s 20/20 Vision initiative was the result of

a strategic planning process, according to CEO Duane

Smith. The initiative established a goal of more than

$1 billion in premiums and growing to more than 400

staff members; it has also helped the company maintain

focus and stay on track.

Such focus is, unfortunately, more the exception than

the rule.

“Companies typically don’t do that,” Mr. Nelson

said. “They focus on the problem of the day or the

hour, and someone [the leader] is not focusing enough

on the overall strategic directions, goals and execution.”

Providing financial predictability to lenders has

been one of the keys to the success of Cedar Ridge

Winery & Distillery in Swisher, according to owner Jeff

Quint, who was previously CFO of the fast-growing

data services company Involta.

“We are a heavy equipment and inventory company,

and you’ve got to have good banking,” Mr. Quint said.

“To have good banking, you’ve got to line up one good

year after another.”

Mr. Quint said accurate forecasting of financials and

hitting those forecasts have been crucial to his banking

relationships. It’s something bankers have mentioned

in extending his company additional credit.

“They [lenders] have told us, ‘You did what you told

us you’re going to do,’” he said.

Defining success

High-growth businesses are often described as “gazelles”

and heaped with glowing praise. Mr. Nelson is

quick to point out that growth, while a worthy goal,

is only one definition of success. He recalled one EDC

client who simply wanted to grow his business in the

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery Owner Jeff Quint (right) stands with Head Distiller Kolin

Brighton (left) and General Manager Jamie Siefken at the company’s facility in Swisher

earlier this year.

small town where it had started, using a style of “open book” management

that empowered and informed his employees.

For that company’s founder, Mr. Nelson said, it was important

to follow and maintain his values and be an economic engine to his

community, rather than maximize growth. It was a limiting factor to

that company’s overall size, but one the founder was willing to accept.

“What I’ve learned over time is people reach a point where they

don’t want to continue to grow,” Mr. Nelson said.

Another fact that Mr. Nelson has observed with high-growth companies

is that many don’t remain independent for too long. Most entrepreneurs

don’t start out their first successful business with the idea of

selling it, Mr. Nelson said, but “if you build something that’s successful,

someone will want to buy it.”

Selling a business may end the entrepreneur’s growth story, Mr.

Nelson said, but it can also set the stage for the next phase of the company’s

growth, and for the entrepreneur to start again with another

company. CBJ

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary 33


CLICKSTOP PAGE 29

Clickstop’s Tim Guenther stands with

the company’s awards, including the

CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies and

Coolest Places to Work honors.

so that’s probably the approach we’re taking.”

The company’s eye for opportunities that

could compliment its distribution reflects one of

online retail’s most important recent changes: expectations

for fast shipping, which could work to

Clickstop’s advantage.

“Shipping is happening a lot faster than it ever

has,” Mr. Guenther said. “It makes us wonder

how long it is before these carriers figure out that

being in the middle of the country is actually a

pretty good place to be.”

As to whether a new acquisition would carry

the Clickstop name, as opposed to the US Cargo

Control brand or another altogether, Mr. Guenther

said the company has yet to clearly demarcate

the Clickstop name and its individual brands,

which also cover lifting and moving supplies and

building products.

“So that’s a tough one for us, and I wish it

wasn’t that way,” Mr. Guenther said.

Presently, Clickstop has 117 full-time and 23-

part time employees, with two facilities located

in Urbana, including a $2.5 million facility with

warehousing and distribution space that opened

on Blue Creek Drive in 2011.

The company also continues to own its original

office on Bing Miller Lane, which now includes

a warehouse and the company’s nonprofit,

Clickstop Cares. Once a roughly 53,000-squarefoot

expansion of the new office is completed this

summer, however, those operations will move to

Blue Creek Drive. CBJ

SPOTIX PAGE 24

nications. With the company’s platforms now dialed in, he

said he views any significant spike in email or phone contact

with customers as an indicator of possible issues.

“It’s actually a really good barometer for the overall status…

of the content, the service, the product,” he said.

Mr. Verhorevoort believes the business outlook for Spotix is

positive due to economic indicators such as home construction

and new home sales, which increased 6 percent nationwide the

first quarter of 2015 over the same time period last year.

“I think it looks like a pretty rosy picture with some slow,

steady growth for the next couple of years, at least as far as

big-picture, macro growth goes,” he said.

What’s happened since:

Spotix has kept the fire going since topping the CBJ’s Fastest

Growing Companies list in 2015. The company ranked No. 5 in

2016 with 169 percent growth, and No. 7 this year, at 144 percent.

Although the company has a sales floor at its new facility

at the I-380 Industrial Park, where it relocated in December,

more than 95 percent of the company’s sales continue to be

earned online.

“A sale is a sale, whether it’s online or in-person out of the

showroom,” Aaron Verhorevoort, now president, said. “Any

sale is a good sale.”

The company more than doubled its space with the move,

and Spotix now occupies about 23,000 square feet, including

its warehouse, in the 90,0000-square-foot building.

The new space also boasts a revamped showroom, which

serves two purposes, according to Mr. Verhorevoort. Like any

showroom, the space allows the company to display hardware

to prospective buyers. Perhaps more importantly, however, the

room helps staff familiarize themselves with the products in-person

so that they can better answer questions for customers online.

“And that level of experience is more common in brickand-mortar

retail space, but it’s not as common online,” Mr.

Verhorevoort said. “That’s kind of what helps us have a little

bit of an upper-hand or unique edge over the competition.”

As of April, the company had 13 full-time employees, with

plans to hire about six more full-time employees in 2017 and

another half-dozen employees next year. Among those positions

slated to be hired are sales, marketing, development and

possibly 1-2 service positions.

“We’re certainly still on pace for that timeline and maybe a

little bit ahead of it,” Mr. Verhorevoort said.

– Chase Castle

34 CBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies 10th Anniversary


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