The Vancouver Business Journal’s annual Business Growth Awards program, presented by Riverview Community Bank, recognizes start-ups, innovators and growing businesses in Southwest Washington.
This year’s awards, based on fiscal year 2016, were announced during a reception and showcase Wednesday night at the Heathman Lodge.
Learn about each of the finalists and award recipients below.
A message from our Sponsor
For the seventh 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
2016 Fastest Growing Company 1-5 Years
From five employees in a home office in 2014, Riverside Payments, a merchant service provider, has expanded to a full-time staff of 75 and also employs 125 independent contractors spanning 45 states. The company’s headquarters moved to a 3,500-square-foot office in Cascade Station (Portland) in early 2015, and then added an additional 4,000 square feet of corporate office space in Vancouver’s Park Plaza Towers before the end of that year. Additionally, the firm has corporate offices in Seattle, Ohio, and Texas, with plans to expand in the coming year; Riverside expects to double its staff and independent contractor numbers as the company’s client base continues to grow at a phenomenal rate.
Since its founding three years ago, the company has enjoyed a growth rate of 1,470 percent. Brandon Skinner, owner, credits the firm’s success to his company’s goal of “becoming the world’s best merchant service provider,” and keeping that goal at the forefront of every thought and action.
To maintain the company’s growth, Skinner intends to continue setting lofty goals at every stage, working harder than anyone in the business to exceed those goals, and providing his staff and sales reps with all the tools they need to succeed.
2016 Fastest Growing 1-5 Years FINALIST
REID BUSINESS SYSTEMS
In a classic case of David and Goliath, Jason Reid, owner of Reid Business Systems, is taking on big-box office supply chains such as Office Depot and Staples – and winning. Since the founding of the company in January 2014, sales have been meteoric, increasing almost 45 percent in the first year and an impressive 84 percent the second year. Reid credits his firm’s success to a market strategy based on personalized local service and prices that meet or beat the big guys.
“People like doing business with a company based in Clark County and are often using their mobile devices doing orders on the fly,” said Reid. He offers an extensive array of furniture, copiers, printers, ink cartridges, paper products and more – 85,000-plus office items (compared to maybe 12,000 at one of the chain stores).
Reid usually promises same-day delivery for office supplies if an order comes in before noon, and can deliver furniture in three to five business days rather than several weeks.
“That turnaround and our ability to match or beat competitor prices gives us advantages,” Reid said.
The company now employs six people; a year from now Reid hopes to have eight to 10 people on board.
“We are looking for strategic growth at every opportunity,” he said.
2016 Fastest Growing Company 6-10 Years
DiscoverOrg has been a pioneer in the sales and marketing intelligence software space since 2007. Designed to reduce the time-to-direct-connection with targeted prospects, the firm’s platform provides sales, marketing and staffing professionals with both the contacts and context needed to sell and market more effectively. From startups marketing IT reliability software to enterprise market research organizations and cloud-based collaboration providers, DiscoverOrg helps companies across all verticals and stages fill their pipelines and improve their bottom lines. The company guarantees in writing that at least 95 percent of DiscoverOrg’s data is accurate.
In the last five years, DiscoverOrg’s sales have grown nearly 400 percent. The company was on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list in 2015, and has been on the INC 5000 list for sixth consecutive years. The firm’s staff has increased fivefold over the last five years, and growing from 114 employees in 2014 to 316 today (175 percent increase) caused the company to expand their Vancouver office in 2016; they also have offices in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The firm’s client base is growing steadily, garnering nearly 300 new clients each year from 2012 to 2015, and 600 new clients in 2016 – this growth has attracted significant external investment, most recently from Goldman Sachs.
2016 Fastest Growing Company 6-10 YEARS FINALISTS
When Empire Hospitality was founded in 2007, the business was managed by three Managing Partners working remotely from their homes. The company has grown steadily, employing 16 people in 2014, 38 in 2015, and now 57 people in 15 cities across 12 states. The company has become a leader in the preparation, development and servicing of federal and state hospitality contracts.
As Empire Hospitality has continued to diversify with a United States Military Entrance Processing Command Multiple Awarded Task Order Contract, a Government Services Administration Multiple Award Schedule contract and numerous stand-alone contracts, the revenue stream has also diversified and grown. Average annual revenue growth has been 63 percent since 2011. This rose significantly in 2016, with a gross revenue more than double that of 2015 and 1,127 percent higher than in 2010.
Since 2010, Empire Hospitality’s annual profits have grown by an average of 53 percent per year. The company has managed services contracts for various Department of Defense organizations, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Parks Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.
In the last five years, Empire Hospitality has opened 13 semi-permanent locations in cities across the country.
EXECUTECH LEASE GROUP
ExecuTech Lease Group is an industry leader specializing in the merchant processing, point-of-sale and ATM industries. The company has been ranked by TopCreditCard Processors.com as the number one leasing company every month, back to back, since June 2012.
Founded by Kyle Moys in 2010, the company reached the Inc. 5000 list in 2014. Moys attributes his company’s continued success to a focus on providing businesses a personal leasing experience from start to finish, with the highest level of customer service, quick credit responses, next-day funding, simple paperwork and courteous advice. This approach creates happy clients who pass ExecuTech’s information on to associates and friends – resulting in the company’s revenue doubling from 2013 to 2014, and growing 93 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Back in 2010, Moys was a one-man show, running applications, marketing to new clients and working with bank relationships. Since then, the firm has hired four staff members, and in May of 2016 moved to a larger office in downtown Vancouver.
2016 was a tough year for many of ExecuTech’s competitors, due to changes in the banking industry. In contrast, ExecuTech weathered the changes with “minimal loss” to their day-to-day business, and is now positioned to acquire more vendor/client relationships and maintain growth into the rest of 2017 and beyond.
PAUL DAVIS RESTORATION
Paul Davis Restoration of Portland/Vancouver is one of 300 independently owned and operated franchises that restore residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters. A “one-stop shop” for restoration, the company understands the highly complex process of recovering from property damage and provides complete service – customers don’t need to deal with multiple contractors.
Owner and president Justin Graham said that the firm is dedicated to making a positive impact on community members who “are having a rough day.” The company’s heartfelt compassion is fueling a growing client base. Over the last four years, the company roster has grown from 17 to 45, and the company has expanded its office space accordingly – growing from 7,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet in 2015, then doubling that to 41,000 square feet just recently.
Additionally, the company fleet has grown from seven vehicles in 2014 to 27 this year, while total sales grew 58 percent over the same time period.
The firm was voted 2017 Best in Clark County for Disaster Restoration.
2016 Fastest Growing Company 10+ Years – TIE
EXCAVATOR RENTAL SERVICES
Jerry and Mary Sauer have owned Excavator Rental Services (ERS), which offers service, sales and rental of heavy and construction equipment, since 2005; the last few years have seen the company take off in a whirlwind of expansion.
By 2014, the company had sprawled into three locations, so they consolidated operations into new digs at the 64,000-square-foot Tidland Corporate Center in Camas. About six months later, ERS bought out Your Rental Center (a general contractor, homeowner, and event rental company in Hood River) and then opened Your Party & Event Center in Camas in December 2015.
The diversification into dishware, tables, chairs, linens, dance floors, casino games, audio/visual equipment, tents and lighting, as well as offering assistance with planning events, has created a new revenue stream for the company. In 2016, ERS opened its third store, located in Wilsonville. The branch offers contractor tools and supplies, heavy equipment rentals and a full-service department equipped with field service trucks. 2016 also marked the purchase of Abacus Event Rental.
Combined revenue from all locations increased 28 percent from 2014 to 2015, and another 33 percent from 2015 to 2016. Starting with 25 employees in 2014, the firm now employs 60 full-time staff.
ON LINE SUPPORT
Founded in 1998, On Line Support provides IT support, such as technical helpdesk support, networking, security, computer support and technology consulting, to small and medium-sized businesses. Eric Olmsted, president and founder, said that the 24/7/365 monitoring they provide takes care of issues before they become a problem and reduces on-site visits by 90 percent.
Proactive IT support and avoiding costly on-site visits saves On Line Support’s customers money – something that they appreciate, as evidenced by the firm being voted Best in Business in the IT Service Provider category for the second consecutive year.
The company has been growing steadily; in December 2015, they employed eight full-time and two part-time staff. By the end of 2016, full-time positions had grown to 15. Also, net income jumped 66 percent from 2015 to 2016.
2016 Fastest Growing Company 10+ Years FINALISTS
McCORD’S VANCOUVER TOYOTA
McCord’s Vancouver Toyota has been selling and servicing cars in Clark County for 35 years. This family owned and operated dealership opened on Main Street in 1982. In 1986, they moved to their current 16-acre location at the intersection of I-205 and SR-500. Just five years ago, they remodeled their building, making them Washington’s first LEED Silver Certified Toyota dealership. This August, they will be adding 20 service bays and 14,000 square feet to their service department.
Already serving more than 200 customers per day, the addition will require three more repair teams (bringing the total to seven), will enable the firm to reduce wait times for express repair work and will increase service total sales and overall profit for the dealership. The company was voted Best New Car Dealership to purchase from in Clark County for 2016 and also won the 2016 Green Business Award. The dealership’s sales satisfaction rating and service rating are 95 percent and 91 percent, respectively, placing them in the top 20 region-wide.
From 163 employees in 2014, the firm now employs 209, and over the same time period, net profit grew by 151 percent. With more than 1,000 new vehicles, 300 used vehicles and 100 RVs for sale, McCord’s is ranked #5 out of 73 Toyota dealerships in the region.
NetRush CEO Brian Gonsalves founded his e-commerce company with friend Chris Marantette in 2006. The firm partners with premium brands to reach and create premium experiences for their best customers on large marketplaces. NetRush works with a little over 40 brands, helping them sell their products on Amazon. Customers include Leatherman, Shwood Eyewear, Bob’s Red Mill, Strider, Eagles Nest Outfitters and Alaffia. The staff at company headquarters has been growing steadily, increasing from 32 in 2014 to 58 in 2017 – causing the firm to move to a larger, 12,000-square-foot office on SE Mill Plain Blvd. last year.
“We’re very excited to be in a space that allows us to keep growing, diversifying and excelling,” said Gonsalves.
In 2013, the company opened a fulfillment center in Kentucky; it too has grown. Just a couple months ago, the firm moved their fulfillment operations from a 14,000-square-foot facility to one offering 72,000 square feet. Employment at the fulfillment center has grown from 50 employees to 73, bringing the company’s total staff to 131 this year. Sales growth has increased as well; the company enjoyed a 79 percent sales jump in 2015, followed by an increase of 35 percent in 2016. Gonsalves and Marantette are looking to further expand by pursuing global sales.
CPA firm Opsahl Dawson combines traditional values and cutting-edge technology to create a “new era” of CPAs. President Aaron Dawson said that Opsahl Dawson has quadrupled in size since he and shareholders Jen Dawson and Matt Lee took over the firm from George Opsahl in 2009. The team of 37 grew the firm at a record-setting rate despite one of the deepest recessions in history.
“Our growth has been a direct result of surrounding ourselves with great people,” said Dawson. “We have extraordinary clients, excellent community referral sources, and best of all, an amazing staff.”
The firm moved into a new, 4,700-square-foot office near the Vancouver Mall in 2013, and has added 16 staff since 2009. In the last few years the company has seen accelerated growth, as they acquired two local CPA firms (Marshall H. Waldman, CPA in 2015 and Dick & Mary Thompson, CPA in 2016). Revenue has steadily climbed, with a 66 percent increase in 2015 and a 110 percent increase in 2016.
The firm is projecting an impressive 117 percent revenue increase for 2017, and Dawson said the team is “excited about our future and have plans to continue our growth.”
2016 INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR
PLUM GEEK ROBOTICS
From R2-D2 and C-3PO to the Terminator, we seem to be fascinated with robots. Kevin King has taken that fascination and turned it into a thriving business. King and his two children started Plum Geek in 2015 sort of by accident – they decided to build a small programmable robot they named “Ringo,” then decided to commercialize the project. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $80,000 in three weeks, they launched Ringo into the school system, where the robot teaches students how to write code.
Ringo has been followed by several other robots (and more Kickstarter campaigns), such as “Wink” and a line of miniature robots called “Spirit Rovers.” King said his goal is to design tools that help others understand electronics and programming and enable them to apply this knowledge to their own projects and further higher learning.
In their 2,000-square-foot shop near Pearson Airfield, Plum Geek’s three employees handle everything from design and prototyping to manufacturing and shipping. King said the company has some new ideas to explore this summer, and will be “right in the middle” of the continuously changing technology industry.
“I see a lot of growth for small businesses like ours going forward. It’s an exciting time,” said King.
2016 INNOVATOR FINALISTS
SCHWABE WILLIAMSON & WYATT
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is always asking how they can better serve their clients. With that in mind, the law firm recently reorganized into six core industry groups: Manufacturing, distribution and retail; natural resources; real estate and construction; transportation, ports and maritime; technology; and healthcare. The reorganization makes Schwabe one of only a handful of law firms to organize around industry verticals rather than legal practice areas. But as uncommon as it is, this approach will let Schwabe adapt to rapidly-changing client needs. In particular, clients now expect more than high-quality legal support; they want collaborators with deep experience in their industry – and Schwabe is changing the company culture to support this focus.
The firm’s attorneys are industry experts, experienced at spotting trends and helping clients navigate them. In a nutshell, Schwabe isn’t just a legal firm, they serve as partners in their clients’ businesses. This quote from Bob Kinghorn, president of Stellar J Corp., a construction company based in Woodland, sums up the power of Schwabe’s new approach: “We appreciate Schwabe’s key strategic relationships, excellent problem-solving abilities and in-depth industry experience.”
UNITED HOME TECHNOLOGIES
United Home Technologies is an innovative manufacturing and R&D company located right here in Vancouver. The firm is a technology leader in the single-serve coffee industry. Their flagship product, the iFill Cup, is the first 100-percent recyclable single-serve cup that works in nearly all single-serve brewers. The iFill Cup is injection molded and features a deep fill that will accommodate up to 15 grams of ground coffee. These cups are BPA free and are made with #5 Polypropylene plastic – 10 times stronger than the traditional available cups. Two other popular products are the company’s iBrew 300 brewer, which is designed for in-room hotel or home consumers and specifically engineered for optimal brewing temperature (196-202 degrees), and vacuum sealing products (Keepeez Universal Vacuum Sealing Lids, PressDome, PressLid, and VacTainer) for end consumers via authorized distributors.
The firm partners with specialty coffee roasters around the world to provide them with an efficient, inexpensive and responsible way to enter the single-serve market, and maintain control of all aspects of their brand, product and customer experience.
Development of the unique and innovative iFill cup has propelled United Home Technologies into a new level of business interactions, such as working with dominant players like Starbucks, and revenue has dramatically increased to several million dollars annually.
2016 START UP OF THE YEAR
Amazingly enough, 76 percent of the 1.3 million business meetings and conferences held throughout the world do not use event technology – that represents a $4 billion market growing at 11.3 percent each year. This is a large and growing market that until now has lacked innovation – USA Today ranked meeting planner as the 5th most stressful job in 2016. Recognizing this situation as an opportunity, Allie Magyar founded Hubb in December 2015. The company’s success is predicated on the “power of connected content for meetings and conferences.”
Hubb offers a one-stop shop for meeting planners, including abstract grading, speaker management, session management, calls for content, sponsor management, task management and analytics, delivered through a web portal, mobile app and digital signage. Hubb allows all the stakeholders involved with planning an event to use a single intuitive system to deliver content to attendees.
According to Magyar, customers can save 66 percent through Hubb’s automated workflows and self-service processes and get content out 29 percent faster – meaning more event registrations and better return on investment for speakers and sponsors. The company markets Hubb to corporate meeting managers, association conference planners, 3rd-party event agencies and tradeshow producers, and currently employs 31 people.
2016 START UP OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
PLUM GEEK ROBOTICS
Kevin King is living the dream – his hobby is his job. From their first robot, “Ringo” in 2015, the firm has added several employees and has several robot models in use in classrooms, where they teach students how to program robots to do many things, from simply avoiding the edges of a desktop to recognizing objects with a vision system. “Ringo” is popular with high school and college classes – the University of Oregon has recently integrated them in some of their coursework.
The firm has financed most of its projects through Kickstarter, raising nearly $400,000 in the last two years.
“We approach the field of STEM education with low cost and highly engaging robots that can be programmed by students, adults and children as young as eight years old,” said King. “Together with an interesting robot platform, we present core concepts of written computer code in a very simple, non-complicated way.”
While many businesses swear by having a well-defined business plan, King takes a different approach. “I like to keep options open,” he said. “When one of us has a good idea, we produce it and see how it does.”
We’ve all had those snack attacks – the intense desire for some popcorn or some chocolate – or both. Charlotte and Jeremy Cook launched their company, Popcorn Cove, in January of 2016 to help us all satisfy those cravings.
Popcorn Cove makes 75 different flavors of gourmet popcorn and fudge, all made right here in their store on Mill Plain Boulevard. With many seasonal and limited-time flavors and holiday specials, popcorn and fudge aficionados will want to return to the store often. They also offer retro sodas, such as Jelly Belly Pineapple Crush, Marionberry Martian Poop, and 15 varieties of root beer, as well as gift boxes.
“We started this business so we can support our family, create jobs and give back to our community,” said the co-founders. “We want it to be a place that brings out the kid in everyone.”
With a combination of nostalgia and convenience, Popcorn Cove is sure to become everyone’s favorite place to go for tasty treats for business parties, tailgate parties, family get-togethers and more – or, they’ll bring the treats to you through their catering service.
During the first year of operation, Popcorn Cove had its hand in approximately $200,000 in economic activity. In keeping with the goal of creating community, the company offers a 50 percent profit fundraising program.