Fastest growing Business of the year – One to five years

US Funding Group inc.

US Funding Group Inc.
Greg Fowler, CEO
Doubled loans to $449M

Greg Fowler wants to make US Funding Group the largest mortgage company in the nation.

Since its inception in 2002, the company has grown from 15 loan officers in one office to more than 300 loan officers, including 250 in Vancouver, in six offices. In 2005, US Funding Group more than doubled its loan volume to $449 million.

Fowler said US Funding Group’s unique business model has allowed it to flourish and protects it from market fluctuations. He said the company offers high commissions to loan officers and emphasizes training for its employees. Additionally, loan officers receive residuals by recruiting brokers to the company. The company allows loan officers to establish their own branch offices under the US Funding Group name, which has resulted in additional branches in Vancouver, Maui, Idaho and California.

“It’s not just me bringing in employees,” said Fowler. “It grows without me.”

US Funding Group also specializes in providing funding for investors, who are less likely to be swayed by economic downturns, said Fowler.

US Funding Group holds local seminars each month drawing between 400 and 1,000 attendees, educating them on how to invest in real estate.

Fowler notes the company has yet to tap markets such as Seattle and Salem, Ore.

US Funding Group has grown to become one of the largest mortgage companies in the Northwest already, but Fowler expects the company can become the biggest in the country in two to three years. He expects that would require entering new markets and having more than 1,500 loan officers.

With its aggressive expansion plans, Fowler expects the company to quadruple its employee and revenue numbers in 2006.

“Every time we set a goal, we go past it,” said Fowler.

In January, Fowler established World Premier Realty Group. He has already registered 100 realtors and expects significant growth. He will extend the same residual benefits to realtors who recruit employees under them, and the real estate and mortgage companies will naturally feed each other, Fowler added.

Gekkotek inc.

GekkoTek Inc.
Aaron Harlin, President, Vince Renfro, Chief Technology Officer, Valerie Reamer, Vice President of Sales
2005 sales of $4.3M, up from $2.1M in 2004

Aaron Harlin and Vince Renfro began Vancouver’s GekkoTek in August 2003 and experienced phenomenal growth from the beginning. Valerie Reamer was brought on as a third partner in 2004, and Harlin attributes 2005 sales of $4.3 million, up from $2.1 million in 2004, to the first full year with all three partners working together.

Refining the company’s capabilities and product lines, as well as strengthening key client relationships also helped drive growth, he said.

GekkoTek is a technology firm that offers hardware and software products and consultation, design, integration and engineering services, as well as post-purchase support.

Harlin is the company’s president, Renfro serves as chief technology officer and Reamer is the vice president of sales. The company has two additional employees.

The company aims to earn a high-level of trust with its customers to become the first point of reference for technology needs.

“GekkoTek strives to become an IT partner with our clients,” said Harlin.

The company includes Providence Health Systems, PacifiCare and Nike among its long list of clients.

GekkoTek offers full lines of Hewlett Packard products and Microsoft platforms and licensing.

Harlin said the company expects continued, fast-paced growth between 20 and 30 percent annually. In 2006, GekkoTek will be focused on increasing its service offerings to comprise a larger portion of its revenues.

Zephyr Communities

Zephyr Communities
Tim Gray, President
Grew by 21 employees to 24 in 2005

Zephyr Communities experienced a strong 2005, its first full year in business. The company made about $2 million in 2004, after starting up in August. In 2005, the company closed 29 homes and revenue of $14 million. Zephyr expects to close nearly 50 homes in the first quarter of 2006 and between 150 and 200 by the end of the year.

The homebuilder also had to grow its staff significantly to meet demand, adding 21 employees to end the year with 24.

President Tim Gray attributes the company’s explosive entrance into the market to Zephyr’s culture and teamwork.

“It enabled us to grow our systems and build our homes quickly with limited issues,” said Gray.

The company was able to put the right people in place to allow the baton to be passed smoothly throughout the building process, he said.

Utilizing all its resources to secure buildable land and focusing on marketing its product type also contributed to growth, said Gray.

The company builds higher-end homes in the $350,000 to $650,000 range in developments of between 20 and 50 homes in Clark County. Zephyr incorporates unique outdoor living concepts, such as courtyards and atriums into its home designs.

Gray said the company expects to carry the momentum it has built into 2006. It hopes to gather additional market share by further diversifying its product line, including lower-end and multifamily homes. Expanding beyond Southwest Washington is not in the cards yet.

“There is enough opportunity here to continue to grow,” said Gray.

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