Industry comebacks

Retailing and manufacturing are back on the fast-growth list

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Print this page by Robert Powell

Retailing and manufacturing have returned to the Fantastic 50.

Last year, technology and service companies occupied every spot on the annual list of the state’s fastest-growing companies. Those industry sectors have dominated the list for many of the 17 years that it has been produced, but it usually had a handful of manufacturers and retailers.

This year one manufacturing company, Heatex America, and one retailer, SteelMaster Buildings, made the list and received the Fantastic 50 Vanguard Awards reserved for those industries.

The 2012 Fantastic 50 list is based on a company’s four-year growth rate, from 2007 through 2010. Last year’s list covered the years 2006-09, a period ending in the depths of the Great Recession, which was especially hard on manufacturers and retailers.

To be eligible for the Fantastic 50 this year, a company must have had revenue of at least $200,000 in 2007, the base year. It also must have made a profit in 2010 and have revenue of less than $100 million its most recent fiscal year.

The five companies receiving Vanguard Awards this year are:

Highest revenue growth: Virginia Beach-based Valkyrie Enterprises LLC, a provider of engineering and technical services. Its four-year growth rate was 4,731.73 percent.

Service: McLean-based Integrity Management Consulting helps federal agencies with acquisition and program management support services. The firm ranked second overall to Valkyrie in revenue growth, expanding by 4,459.98 percent from 2007 to 2010.

Technology: Chantilly-based Agilex Technologies Inc., an information technology and systems consulting company.

Manufacturing: Natural Bridge Station-based Heatex America, which manufactures and sells heat exchangers.

Retail/Wholesale: Virginia Beach-based SteelMaster Buildings, which has sold more than 40,000 steel and metal prefabricated buildings worldwide in the past 30 years.

While a four-year growth rate of more nearly 4,733 percent is high, it actually is lower than the pace set by the past two companies topping the Fantastic 50. NetWitness, a Reston-based network security company, had an amazing growth rate of 7,752 percent in 2011. ITA International, a Yorktown-based company providing training, consulting, program management and staff support functions, led the 2010 list with a rate of 5,779 percent.

The median growth rate also dipped from 354.12 percent last year to 327.32 percent this year.

Many of the companies on this year’s list are familiar faces. Thirty of the 50 companies were on the list last year. Twenty-nine members of the 2012 list are service companies, while 19 are technology firms.

Northern Virginia continues to be the home of the vast majority of Fantastic 50 companies, with 35 on this year’s list. Twelve are from Hampton Roads. The other three are from Richmond, Winchester and Rockbridge County (Natural Bridge Station).

The Fantastic 50 is coordinated by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The accounting firm Dixon Hughes Goodman reviews the financial records of entries to determine the winners.

All 50 companies were recognized at a banquet held April 26 at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly. 

Click here to view the complete 2012 Fantastic 50 list.

Column: Thoughts from a Fantastic 50 winner by Beth Miller-Herholtz and Tom DeWitt

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