Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S.
Before we get you into the Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S., you might want to check this article out as it appears in our March Issue of Business Review USA. For the tablet and iPad fans, it's way cooler to read this article while flipping through our user-friendly e-reader.
While 2010 showed a small inclination that America was poking its eager head out of the recession, there have been a select few companies that have found ways to beat down the negativity and show substantial growth over the last three years. From an electricity and natural gas provider, a vintage clothing online storefront, to a Southern Californian company offering language and cultural training to U.S. troops about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, here are the top five fastest growing companies in America right now.
1. Dallas, Texas-based Ambit Energy ranks the top of the list as the fastest growing company with a three-year growth of 20,369 percent and from 2007 to 2010, the company saw a customer growth of 7916 percent. The electricity and natural gas provider was founded in 2006 at a restaurant called The Potbelly, no less. Jere Thompson and Chris Chambless met to discuss energy deregulation before aiming to build the finest and most respected retail energy company in the U.S.
The duo set up shop in the historic West End district of downtown Dallas and went to work on several $19 fold-up tables with a few other experienced team members. The company grew extraordinarily quick and in 2008 and Ambit showed revenues of nearly $200 million and nearly $325 million in 2009. Today, Ambit provides electricity and natural gas to residential and commercial customers in Texas, New York, Illinois and Maryland.
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based ModCloth saw a three-year growth of 17,190 percent. High school sweethearts Eric and Susan Gregg Koger started the vintage clothing online storefront in 2002 based on their love for vintage and retro clothing. Today, ModCloth offers clothing, accessories and décor in a fun shopping experience through social media and blog interactions with customers.
ModCloth has raised $19.8 million in funding from Accel Partners and has moved its new headquarters in San Francisco last year and opened a supply chain operation in Los Angeles. The company has grown from $90,000 to $15.5 million in a mere three years, with the help of broad retail selections, attention to detail, vivid product descriptions and customer outreach.
3. Merritt Island, Florida-based Luke & Associates saw a three-year growth of 16,636 percent. The company, which formed in 2004, provides medical and clinical services for the U.S. military and also placed No. 1 in government services for the U.S. the company saw revenue of $37.5 million in 2009.
In 2006, Luke was awarded its first bid, a 10-year, $1.9-billion contract to provide clinical support services for the U.S. Air Force at medical treatments facilities in the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam. In 2009, Luke was awarded $1.27 billion in contracts to provide direct care medical services for the U.S. Army in four separate regions across the U.S.
4. El Cajon, California-based Lexicon Consulting saw a three-year growth of 14,017 percent. The provider of linguistic and cultural training to U.S. troops about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was founded in 2005 by Jamie Arundell-Latshaw and her husband Leroy, who both have distinguished military careers under their belts but they were green when it came to government contracting. Arundell-Latshaw says that it was word of mouth among the troops and a commitment to Lexicon's government clients that propelled the business to success.
5. San Francisco, California-based WDFA Marketing saw a three-year growth of 13,969 percent. WDMA claims to be a young and cheeky marketing agency that isn’t like their traditional competitors. Although the company’s website is a bit hush-hush when it comes to services offered, the agency, headed by CEO and Managing Partner Raj Prasad, focuses on local community environments to make for integrating marketing strategies for a more effective and memorable experience for customers. WDFA is short for “We Don’t Fool Around,” and describes the mindset of the company and its micromarketing and guerilla tactics.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.