An outgrowth of the Inc. 500 list begun in 1982, the Inc. 5000 list, an “annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America,” has become a litmus test for legitimizing up-and-coming private companies that exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit.
To be eligible for the list, an entrant needs to be an independent, privately owned company based in the U.S. It must have been in business for at least three years and to have booked at least $2 million in revenue during the previous year. Companies are ranked on the list according to overall revenue growth during the past three years using a simple formula. This year’s formula is:
[(2014 revenue – 2011 revenue) / 2011 revenue] x 100
= total growth percentage
While the Inc. 5000 list commemorates companies in all sorts of different markets, we wanted to acknowledge that there are hundreds of companies on the list that we would consider “industrial,” while also drawing attention to some of the most interesting leaders in our B2B industrial landscape. To do so, we chose one company that has a distinct B2B industrial focus — either because it manufacturers something or because it offers services to industrial companies — in ten on Inc.‘s industry categories.
Sadly, we didn’t see any companies at all in the Defense Contracting or Logistics industry categories this year, verticals which we would also include in the general field of “industrial.” Because of this, those industries have been left out of our review.
Here, then, is our shortlist of B2B industrial leaders on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list. Consider this something like the “Industrial Marketer 10.”
Industry: Computer Hardware
Inc. Ranking: #772
Ranked fifth in Inc.’s Computer Hardware category this year (after making the cut for the Inc. 500 at #358 overall in 2014), Wisconsin-based EmbedTek “designs and manufactures embedded computers and integrated display services for original equipment manufacturers.” Their embedded computers find wide applications in fitness equipment, industrial automation systems, and military vehicles, among many other products.
Inc. Ranking: #318
Lumber One Services is a family-owned lumber brokerage firm that not only made the Inc. 5000 list this year— it also made the cut for the Inc. 500 for the second year in a row. With just six employees, it has experienced 1,465% growth over the last three years with 2014 annual revenue clocking in at $7.6 million. If you need to source wood for a construction project, these are the guys.
Inc. Ranking: #30
Based in Oklahoma City, ZZW Global is an ambitious company born of the shale revolution. A provider of oil and gas field services such as oilfield transport, vacuum trucks, hot oil trucks, roustabouts, rig washing, end dumps and frac tank cleaning, ZZW Global has grown 7,904% in three years, putting it at #30 on Inc.’s list. Impressively, the $8.7-million company has been debt free since owner Zane Zachary Woods founded it in 2010.
Inc. Ranking: 301
Inc.’s No. 1 engineering company is Pivotal Systems, a Fremont, California company that makes monitoring and process control technology specifically for semiconductor manufacturing. Pivotal’s products give manufacturers real-time data to increase throughput and tool life with special emphases on monitoring and controlling two areas critical for semiconductor production: chamber condition and gas flow.
Industry: Environmental Services
Inc. Ranking: #1582
Founded in 1993, Houston-based ACS Engineering advises heavy industry on environmental compliance. The last three years have seen the company grow 256%, likely thanks to plants’ increased need to understand shifting EPA regulations. The company also consults on process safety management and helps develop and implement ISO 14000/14001-compliant Environmental Management Systems.
Industry: Food & Beverage
Inc. Ranking: #20
At first glance, Inc.’s “Food & Beverage” industry category seems to be dominated by B2C companies such as coffee roasters, juice bar chains, and meal delivery services. But the highest-ranking company on the list in this category is Aseptia, a B2B that develops shelf-stable food technology for food manufacturers. Aseptia also owns Wright Foods, which manufactures preservative-free food for private labels and brands.
Inc. Ranking: #1002
We were happy to see 177 manufacturers on the list but wanted to draw attention to one in particular. Not only is it a leader in one of the hottest areas in manufacturing but it made Inc.’s list for the third year in a row — an impressive feat. Based in Oakland, Fathom is a soup-to-nuts expert in the fields of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing, offering design, prototyping, and advanced manufacturing services.
Inc. Ranking: #943
Most of the companies in Inc.‘s Security category offer IT security or home security. While IT security is certainly important to the industrial world, Cambridge Security Seals offers a security product that feels more inherently “industrial” — security seals, which are an ingrained part of the supply chain. Founded in 2011, Cambridge was eligible for the Inc. 5000 list for the first time this year.
Inc. Ranking: #1029
Sunsight Instruments develops and manufactures antenna alignment tools and antenna monitoring systems for telecommunications companies. Clients include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, among others. Sunsight’s instruments help these companies optimize their signal transmission equipment. To put it another way: It would not be too much of an exaggeration to thank Sunsight for the prevalence of accessible 4G cellular data networks.
Industry: Advertising & Marketing
Inc. Ranking: #4210
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Industrial Strength Marketing also made the Inc. 5000 list this year. While there are 468 marketing agencies on the list, ISM is the only one that focuses exclusively on B2B industrial marketing. And while it may seem strange to think of marketing as an industrial activity, that’s how we approach it at ISM, firmly believing that marketing can become the strength of any industrial business. And proving it is one of the reasons why we created Industrial Marketer in the first place.
It’s exciting to see so many B2B industrial companies on the Inc. 5000 list — evidence that the American industrial sector is thriving. If the general economic outlook for 2015 is any indication, this growth will continue. We wish everyone the greatest success and look forward to seeing who makes it to Inc.’s list in 2016.
In the meantime, if there are any B2B industrial companies on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list that you’d like to call out, please leave a comment and tell us a little about why they deserve mention.