by Robert Powell
The Fantastic 50 is showing the effects of the recent recession. The annual list of the 50 fastest-growing companies in Virginia includes no listing this year for manufacturers or retail/wholesale companies.
Companies in those categories simply did not have enough revenue growth from 2006 through 2009 to make the list this year. The cutoff point was a four-year growth rate of 134 percent.
Fantastic 50 organizers blamed the absence of manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers on the 2007-09 recession, which hit those industries hard.
The list long has been dominated by Northern Virginia technology and service companies, many of which are government contractors. Until this year, however, vanguard awards were presented in five areas: one for highest four-year revenue growth and four others to the revenue leaders in technology, service, manufacturing and retail/wholesale.
This year there are only three awards. They go to:
Highest revenue growth: NetWitness., a Reston-based network security company.
Service: Octo Consulting Group, a Tysons Corner-based business that provides guidance to executives making decisions about information technology investments and initiatives.
Technology: Knight Point Systems in Reston, which helps federal government agencies and corporations consolidate their data centers for maximum efficiency and optimal use.
NetWitness, which had a blistering four-year growth rate of 7,751.5 percent, was sold in early April to Massachusetts-based EMC Corp., a major information infrastructure solutions company. NetWitness will operate as a part of RSA, the security division of EMC. Over the years, many Fantastic 50 companies have been acquired by larger firms.
NetWitness’ growth rate was the highest recorded in the Fantastic 50 in 10 years. The median growth rate for companies on this year’s list was 354 percent.
Forty of the 50 companies on the fast-growth list are based in Northern Virginia, the majority in Fairfax County. Nine of the remaining 10 have headquarters in Hampton Roads and one is based in Blacksburg.
Thirty-three of the Fantastic 50 companies are service firms and the rest are technology companies.
The Fantastic 50, now in its 16th year, is coordinated by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman reviews the financial records of entries to determine the winners.
To be eligible for the Fantastic 50, a company must have had revenue of at least $200,000 in 2006, the base year. It must have made a profit in 2009 and have revenue of less than $100 million in its most recent fiscal year.