23 local businesses were honored as finalists of the Vancouver Business Journal’s 2016 Business Growth Awards during a reception and showcase Wednesday night at the Battle Ground Community Center.
The annual awards program recognizes business growth and innovation based on performance in the previous calendar year.
Learn about the award recipients and finalists following this message from presenting sponsor, Riverview Community Bank:
For the sixth consecutive year, the employee-owners of Riverview Community Bank are honored to present the Business Growth Awards. For over 90 years, we have helped our clients put their deposits to work in Clark County promoting homeownership, creating new jobs and supporting nearly 100 local nonprofits. Every year we are amazed and impressed with the quality organizations our community attracts and develops. From the startups to well-established landmarks, each one has its own unique brand of ingenuity, perseverance and pride. As their ideas and inspirations grow, so does the quality of life all of us enjoy, in a place we call home. We are privileged to help acknowledge these outstanding companies and have such phenomenal organizations and inspiring leaders as our friends and neighbors.
Executive Vice President
Riverview Community Bank
2015 Fastest Growing Company 1-5 Years: Award recipient (TIE)
When Bleu Door Bakery owner Bonnie Brasure was growing up, her mother would take her grocery shopping. Brasure would spend her allowance money on cake mixes. At home, she would make a cake, but add a different ingredient each time – chocolate or cinnamon, nuts or vanilla. She still remembers the smiles on her parents’ faces when they took their first bite.
Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Brasure baking bread and other pastries every day at Bleu Door, which is located in Vancouver’s Uptown Village. The bakery has surpassed its yearly budget goals every year since it opened in October 2011. Profits have grown each year by 30 percent and the number of employees has grown as well; Bleu Door started with five employees and now has 18 full-time employees. By the summer, Brasure hopes to make seven more full-time and part-time hires.
Brasure purchased Bleu Door’s current Main Street building in 2014, and expanded the business to begin serving sit-down breakfast and lunch. The bakery started with 36 seats, and last summer added 28 more. Bleu Door is currently working on adding more outdoor seating and bar tops, as well as offering a brunch menu.
2015 was a banner year for Heathen Brewing – a local brewery with a mission to make small batches of “progressive ales for the promiscuous palate.”
The brewery opened its public house, Feral Public House, last July in downtown Vancouver, serving upscale gastropub fare. The company’s revenue tripled and profits doubled. The brewery added 30 full-time jobs, for a total of 35 employees.
Heathen Brewing proudly sources its hops and other ingredients locally, and brews seasonal and experimental beers throughout the year. The names the brewery gives its beers, such as Arson Amber Ale, Vantucky Pale Ale, Carnage Double IPA, aren’t the only whimsical thing about the company: the faucet handles in the Feral Public House’s restrooms are beer taps.
Heathen Brewing has won numerous awards for its beers. Its Transcend IPA was awarded the People’s Choice Award during the 2014 Vancouver Summer Brewfest. The IPA has also won awards at the Portland Spring Beer & Wine Fest.
Readers of the Vancouver Business Journal have named Heathen Brewing as “Best Brewery” in the journal’s Best in Business Awards for three straight years.
Riverside Payments offers services that make it a one-stop merchant service provider: mobile processing, merchant cash advance, reporting tools, point of sale systems, ATM installation, ongoing support and an array of other services. The company was founded in 2014 and has ambitions to be the fastest growing company in Vancouver. It certainly is growing: it started with three employees and now has 49 full-time employees and nearly 100 independent contractors.
Riverside acquired 3,500 square feet of office space near Cascade Station, in Portland, where its marketing department is now headquartered. In January, its corporate offices moved into a 4,500-square-foot space at the Park Towers Business Center in Vancouver. Riverside has also opened satellite offices in Washington, Utah and Texas.
Riverside attributes its rapid growth to its focus on customer service and emphasis on building long-term relationships with merchants. Outside of business, Riverside donates portions of its profits to different charitable causes every month.
2015 Fastest Growing 1-5 Years: Finalists
Battle Ground Village’s Emanar Cellars started as a bottled wine shop when it opened in 2013 and quickly expanded to serving wine and small Spanish tapas plates. As a result, profits soared.
Between 2014 and 2015, profits increased by 90 percent. The restaurant credits its revenue growth to increasing the size of its bar, its selection of wine and appetizers, and the opening of a patio, which allowed the business to serve more customers at a time. Emanar’s classy and casual atmosphere, live music every Friday and Saturday, and weekly tastings of local wines are among the reasons why the business’s customer base continues to grow.
More growth is on the horizon; Emanar is planning to expand its covered patio, which will allow for outdoor seating during the winter. The business plans to buy and expand into an adjacent building and serve different food options. Emanar is also working with a local winery to develop an Emanar Cellars Spanish varietal.
Kendall’s Pioneer Distributing is a boutique craft beer, wine and spirits distributor with beginnings in the Great Depression. The business is named after the owners’ great-grandparents, Laura and Kyle Kendall, who owned Kendall’s Pioneer Distributing in Bend, Oregon, where they sold soft drinks and beer before selling the business in 1941. The family moved to Vancouver and started Corwin Beverage Company.
In June 2014, Corwin’s owners – the great grandchildren of Laura and Kyle Kendall – bought Kendall’s back and since that time, the business has boomed. Between 2014 to 2015, business grew by 209 percent and the company is planning for 105 percent growth this year. Kendall’s has seen product sales increase by 100 percent.
Employee retention is high and the company is known for customer service that focuses on creating genuine connections with the distributor’s clients. When Kendall’s started, it distributed three craft beers and wines from two wineries. Kendall’s now distributes popular craft beers from Terminal Gravity, Alameda Brewing and Everybody’s Brewing. The business is now focusing on making its delivery routes more efficient and brand equity, and it has recently invested in new vehicles and storage space.
Mill Creek Pub’s mission is to create community through serving good food. It must be working: the pub has won multiple Best in Business awards from the Vancouver Business Journal and readers of the Columbian have chosen Mill Creek as the best pub in Clark County for three years in a row. Mill Creek has also won numerous community service awards, including from Leadership Clark County, Clark County Public Health, the Association of Washington Businesses and the National Restaurant Association. The business also spear-headed an effort to promote tourism in Battle Ground and increase overnight stays and retail dollars.
Mill Creek opened in 2011 and has grown every year by, on average, 28 percent. In 2015, the pub added 10 jobs, bringing the total to 65. To ensure employee satisfaction and foster a friendly, inclusive work environment, the business gives assessments at least once a year.
The business markets itself by participating in community events, partnering with other businesses and sponsoring multiple events every year, including the Clark County Fair and the Miss Vancouver Rodeo Queen.
SmartRG designs and creates hardware and software products that help internet service providers and broadband operators monitor and manage home networking systems. It also helps broadband providers monetize their products by creating accessories and apps that help customers.
The company has grown every year since its founding in 2012. Revenue has climbed steadily each year, and SmartRG expanded its office space from 2,600 square feet to nearly 6,000 in 2014. It retains 98 percent of its customer base.
In 2014, SmartRG employed 22. Today, the company employs 31, and employee satisfaction is high; SmartRG gives frequent surveys to get feedback from employees, and in addition to offering benefits such as health insurance and a 401(k) plan, the company also has a quarterly bonus program, quarterly engagement events, two break rooms, the option to work remotely with flexible hours, and an annual $300 fitness stipend to help employees pay for everything from new gym memberships to new hiking boots.
2015 Fastest Growing Company 6-10 Years: Award recipient
Pacific Energy Concepts provides commercial and industrial lighting design and control services to businesses and creates energy-efficient lighting solutions that maximize on incentive programs, helping customers cut their business’ utility bills by as much as 50 percent. In 2011, Energy Trust of Oregon named Pacific Energy Concepts a “Top Performing Trade Ally” because of how much energy their customers were able to save.
Pacific Energy Concepts doesn’t skimp on aesthetics. The company calls it “lighting done right.” Company consultants work with business owners from design to installation and focus on getting to know a business’s particular lighting needs. The company has clients throughout the Pacific Northwest and what started as a one-employee outfit has grown rapidly; the company now has 15 full-time employees and expects to create six more full-time jobs this year.
Revenues routinely double in a single year, at the very least, and the company often surpasses its aggressive revenue targets. Growth, since 2009, has averaged more than 800 percent.
2015 Fastest Growing Company 6-10 Years: Finalists
In 2009, when Kristine Aaland opened Aadland Dental, many other dental practices were going bankrupt and dentists were walking away from their private practices. Despite that trend, over the past seven years, Aadland Dental has experienced growth and success. The practice now has more than 4,100 patients – many of them based on word-of-mouth referrals. As a result, Aadland Dental averages 65 new patients per month.
Aadland started with six employees and now has 11. Revenue has grown, on average, by 28 percent every year. This year, revenue is already up 64 percent compared to last year.
Aadland supports numerous local events and charities throughout the year and approaches all relationships – whether employees, patients or the community in general – by treating people as if they are family and evoking the Golden Rule of treating others as they would want to be treated.
BearThyme Catering, doing business as Simply Thyme Catering, has a simple but effective motto: “catering by design.” The company, which started in 2006, considers food to be a central and integral part to any celebration.
Simply Thyme offers customized and seasonal menus, and sources local ingredients when possible.
The company caters more than 1,600 events every year – for everything from small business lunch events to weddings, community events and larger corporate buffet-style meals. The catering service also does aviation catering for private jets and charter flights flying from Portland International Airport.
2015 was a busy year for Simply Thyme. The company added four new full-time employees, six part-time employees, three new delivery vehicles and new kitchen equipment.
Vancouver-based SunModo develops, manufactures and sells solar photo-voltaic (PV) racking and mounting solutions to residential installers, commercial integrators and other solar providers in North America. More than 95 percent of SunModo’s business is done in the United States, but the company is expanding sales to Mexico, Canada and Latin America.
SunModo has 16 employees and plans to create three full-time jobs this year. The company’s revenues have increased every year by at least 50 percent.
SunModo strives to make solar energy a bigger part of our everyday lives, and the company sees long-term customer satisfaction as key to fulfilling that mission and to the success of the company. This is the third consecutive year the company has been recognized in the VBJ’s Business Growth Awards.
Webfor, a Vancouver-based digital market agency that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), website design and development, and project management and social media services, has added eight employees over the last three years.
Webfor, a Vancouver-based digital market agency that specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), website design and development, and project management and social media services, strives to maintain a work-life balance for its employees, with a tight-knit workplace atmosphere built on respect for one another. With a focus on customer service, the company provides white papers, cheat sheets and an updated blog so that clients can keep up with industry news and information.
The approach is certainly paying off; profitability in 2014 increased by more than 18 percent. In 2015, profitability was up more than 23 percent, while revenue grew by nearly 30 percent – 25 percent higher than initial targets.
Over the past three years, Webfor has added eight new employees.
A little more than a year ago, the company moved into a new office at 1002 Main Street in downtown Vancouver. The new space was the final transformative piece in a rebranding effort for the company, which included a new logo and new website.
2015 Fastest Growing Company 10+ Years: Award recipient (TIE)
Established in 2006, NetRush is a third-party seller on Amazon.com. Not just a reseller, NetRush collaborates with hundreds of premium brands and uses extensive marketplace knowledge and resources to execute a brand’s purpose and vision. The co-founders’ (Brian Gonsalves and Chris Marantette) focus on honesty, reliability and determination has led the company to success.
In early 2013, NetRush opened a processing facility in Kentucky that receives, inspects and reprocesses all products that will eventually be located in Amazon’s warehouses spread across 17+ states. The company employed only 12 people in 2012, compared to 82 in 2015 – just over the past 12 months, NetRush has doubled its staff. In late 2015, the firm moved from a small office to a 12,000-square-foot space along Mill Plain Boulevard in Vancouver that will accommodate the firm’s growth. The company’s revenue has grown by almost 150 percent over the last two years, and sales are expected to increase another 68 percent in 2016.
The company considers itself a “team of thinkers, doers, and problem solvers” that will make good use of the collaborative floor plan of the new headquarters.
“We’re very excited to be in a space that allows us to keep growing, diversifying and excelling,” said CEO Brian Gonsalves.
Papa Murphy’s operates the largest take-and-bake pizza chain in the US. The Vancouver-headquartered firm opened 111 new stores in 2015, 46 of them in the 4th quarter. The company expects to open at least 25 domestic stores in first-quarter 2016 – it has already opened 18 of those. As of the end of 2015, the company had achieved positive comparable store sales growth in 42 of the last 48 quarters.
Employee growth has been steady. As of March 7, 2016, Papa Murphy’s had 2,101 employees, and created 126 jobs in Vancouver. The company’s corporate headquarter employee count went from 82 in 2012 to 126 in 2015. The Vancouver corporate office recently expanded its office space in July 2015, increasing the HQ size by 10 percent. In 2014 the company became publicly traded.
The company remains active in the community, working with organizations like Urban Gleaners and Share to help provide food to needy families.
In the last year, the chain has won several awards, including Zagat #1-Rated Pizza Chain, Chain of the Year, and the Franchisee Satisfaction Award.
Within the last month, the company has announced expansion plans in the Mid-West and Southern United States.
2015 Fastest Growing 10+ Years: Finalists
When Cynthia Severson started Cascade Flooring America in 1979 she had a few carpet samples – and the dream of owning a successful business. Today, she and co-owner Sonny Parsons (her son) have made that dream reality. In the beginning, the company occupied a small space at the back of a Vancouver print shop. In 2006, the company erected their own building on Highway 99. By 2009, the company had grown to 25 employees; a commercial installation department was added in 2012. Today, their 7,500-square-foot showroom no longer accommodates the company’s inventory and nearly 50 employees. The firm plans to purchase additional land soon.
Cascade Flooring offers Hunter Douglas window treatments, carpet, tile, hardwood, vinyl, marble, granite and more, as well as in-home design consultation. Recognized as “Best of Clark County” three years running in The Columbian’s Readers’ Choice poll, the firm has also won several service awards from Angie’s List. Community involvement includes helping raise funds for Second Step Housing and supporting the American Heart Association and youth activities such as Miss Clark County and the Clark County Fair Court.
With net sales and net income both nearly doubling between 2009 and 2016, the future looks bright for Cascade Flooring America.
Having experienced one of their best quarters in 20 years, an 18.6 percent increase in revenue from 2014 to 2015 and an additional 18 percent jump projected for this year, Columbia Okura is poised to be one of the fastest growing companies in Clark County. The robotic automation integration firm specializes in end-stage packaging and palletization. Their robotic palletizers make it easier and safer for workers in a wide range of industries to take product from a conveyor to a shipping pallet. As of February 2016, the company has six service technician locations around the U.S. and has sold 700+ robots – some as far away as Barbados, Ireland and South Africa. Six new full-time employees were added between 2014 and 2015, bringing the total to 50.
Of course, the growth in the automation industry accounts for some of Columbia Okura’s growth – but it is also a factor of the company’s supportive family-like work environment.
“We provide a secure and happy work environment,” said a company spokesperson. “The employees in return give back 100 percent.”
The firm reflects this back into the community by actively supporting local educational institutions with scholarships and internships.
Lewis Group CPAs, P.C. provides tax, accounting and consulting services with an emphasis on the integral value of quality business relationships. Formed in 1994, the firm’s revenue grew steadily but slowly for many years – until Chris Lewis stepped into the managing partner role. With strong ideas about “making relationships count,” Lewis strives to develop a year-round relationship with clients and has instituted a flat-fee charging system so clients don’t feel “on the clock” when they call with questions.
In 2014, revenue grew 8.7 percent – the largest percent increase in the past ten years. In 2015, revenue jumped more than 20 percent, enabling the firm to hire an additional CPA to meet the growing demand. At the end of 2015, the company employed three full-time CPAs and two full-time accounting staff, and effected a merger with another Vancouver CPA firm, Stockton & Associates.
Lewis said that the company’s recent growth is not a flash in the pan.
“The foundation is in place to continue this trajectory,” he said.
Mary Jane’s House of Glass opened its doors in 2000. 16 years later, Mary Jane’s has grown to 19 locations (including a state-licensed location selling cannabis) and plans to open five more retail outlets soon.
Gross revenues increased by about 15 percent from 2015 to 2016; overall sales are expected to increase another 10 to 15 percent this year. The firm has been voted “Best Head Shop” and “Best Glass Company” by Dope Magazine in 2016 and “Best Head Shop” in The Columbian’s 2016 Readers’ Choice poll. In 2015, the company won the VBJ’s “Fastest Growing Business 10+ Years” award and has garnered over 10,000 followers on the firm’s Instagram account. The firm currently employs about 100 people.
“Being recognized and honored by our customers and community is truly something we consider to be one of our greatest accomplishments and sign of the growth of our trustworthiness and respect,” said a company spokesperson.
The firm added 13 full-time professional employees and 40 new retail staff in the last year, and has plans to expand nationally. Mary Jane’s is currently in the process of relocating their warehouse and corporate offices to new digs at the Steigerwald Commerce Center – 4.5 times their current space.
Nautilus, Inc., maker of home fitness equipment, was hit hard by the recession, but the firm has recently experienced substantial growth. 2014 net sales were up 25 percent over the previous year. Net sales in the first, second, and fourth quarter of 2015 trumped the same quarters in 2014 by 34, 23 and 15 percent respectively – proof that the market is hungry for Nautilus’ innovative new products, such as their Cardio Series, SelectTech dumbbells and the Bowflex Max Trainer. The firm was the only “leisure products” company listed on Fortune’s list of 100 fastest-growing companies last year.
Overall, the Vancouver-headquartered company has posted a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent from 2010 to 2015, while the number of employees has grown from 310 in 2013 to 470 in 2016 (a 51 percent increase).
“As we begin 2016, we feel we are well-positioned for another year of growth,” said CEO Bruce Cazenave.
Recent months have marked several milestones in the company’s development, including the opening of the Nautilus Shop (a 3,000-square-foot retail space), the Nautilus Innovation Center, the acquisition of Octane Fitness, and demonstrating their Cardio Series at ISPO Munich, one of the largest sporting good expositions in the world.
Opsahl Dawson is a full-service CPA Firm with offices in Vancouver and Longview. The company is named for its original owner, who started the firm in 1979. The current owners bought the firm in 2009 and have since bought and incorporated two more CPA practices. Revenue at Opsahl Dawson has grown by more than 110 percent and the company currently employees 32 full-time employees. The firm also has a robust internship program with Washington State University-Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor & Analysis Program, and considers students to be the lifeblood of the company and of the community.
The firm went paperless in 2010 and now works entirely from the cloud, allowing its employees to work remotely and have flexible hours, which helps reduce stress and maintain a positive work-life balance, especially during tax season.
Efficiencies provided by this technology helps Opsahl better serve its clients, especially when it comes to timeliness and security. When the firm moved to its 4,700-square-foot office in 2013, it bought its employees new workstations that include desks that can rise and lower mechanically, allowing employees to stand or sit as they wish.
Opsahl Dawson has a community service day every year where employees spend a day at a nonprofit, and the firm also invests in employee wellness by offering nutrition and weight management programs, a FitBit, and by providing free lunches and fresh fruit during the busy tax season. Last year, Opsahl Dawson was named one of “Southwest Washington’s Healthiest Companies” by the Vancouver Business Journal.
2015 Startup of the Year: Award recipient
When Bryan Shull launched Trap Door Brewing last October, it was just a few blocks from his childhood home. A “repeat entrepreneur,” Shull has owned several successful businesses prior to starting Trap Door. As a sign of his skill, the company had a 15-percent profit margin in 2015, unheard of for a start-up brewery. The company has already signed a distribution contract and has more than doubled their kegging capacity – from 80 kegs to 200, with an additional 50 to 100 coming this spring. Dozens of taverns, restaurants and pizzerias in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties are serving Trap Door beer; their IPA is ranked #2 in our area on the popular mobile app Untappd.
Several aspects of Trap Door set them apart from the “co-opetition.” They use 100-percent reverse osmosis water for their beer and drinking water. Located in Uptown Village, Trap Door hosts Vancouver’s first food cart pod and has one of the city’s largest-capacity outdoor seating areas, which has already expanded by 30 to 40 seats in anticipation of the summer crowd.
They anticipate hiring two new brew tenders when they expand the brewery’s hours; the company expects to have seven full-time employees by mid-June. Reaching out beyond the standard 20-45 white male audience, Trap Door is hedging its bets by targeting a variety of lifestyle groups including running clubs, cyclists, beer tasting clubs, artists, families and more.
2015 Startup of the Year: Finalists
Ashley Vizcaino, 28, grew up working with her dad at Vancouver’s Advanced RV Center. After graduating from Prairie High School, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting, and a master’s degree in business administration. In October 2014, she combined her experience and education to launch Formal Flush, LLC. The company supplies luxury restroom trailers to a wide variety of events, such as outdoor weddings, corporate retreats, family reunions, wine club dinners out on the vineyard, and on-set for television shows. Not your regular port-a-potty, Formal Flush’s trailers feature heat, air conditioning, hands-free flushing, hot water, LED lighting and spacious countertops.
The company is busiest during the summer months, with 37 deliveries between July and September last year. You can find the trailers up and down the I-5 corridor, including bridal shows in Vancouver, Easter Egg Hunts in Portland, and even saving the day in Olympia when South Sound Radiology Clinic’s septic system went down.
The business is a “complete family affair” – Vizcaino’s dad delivers, her husband picks up, her sister helps at wedding shows and her mom helps with the cleaning and maintenance. The company was profitable in its first full year, and Vizcaino hopes her year-round promotion plan will help increase demand for Formal Flush services for construction projects and emergency situations.
Sherri McMillan, owner of the successful Northwest Personal Training studio, launched Why Racing Events in January 2015. On the surface, her new venture trains athletes for fun-runs, triathlons, adventure events and other races. But Why Racing Event goes much deeper than that. Positioned as a “for-profit that does good,” McMillan’s new company is based on the belief that no matter why a person races, we are all united on a mission to improve our own health while building our community – giving back and improving the lives of those in need. So, while training athletes, Why Racing Events also raises awareness and funds for important community causes.
Why Racing Events realized a 6.5-percent profit in its first year, and donated 11 percent of that revenue to local schools, clubs, teams and nonprofits including Kearney Breast Center, Children’s Center, Komen for a Cure and Share.
The concept seems to be catching on; McMillan started with two full-time employees and now employs five additional managers and a 20-member event crew. From a series of four events in early 2015, Why Racing Events will host 12 events in 2016, with more proposed for 2017.
“I want to put Vancouver on the map and bring more people to the beautiful Northwest to experience all we have to offer,” said McMillan. “Together, we can achieve the extraordinary!”
Congratulations to all of the 2016 Business Growth Awards recipients and finalists!