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Fastest Growing Companies

by Edited by Jennifer Kelley, Samantha Melamed and Samantha Haggerty
A slow economy? Not if you ask these South Jersey companies. From brand-new startups to decades-old stalwarts, these privately owned businesses all reported revenue growth in the last three years and brought in sales exceeding $500,000 in 2010. Several temporary staffing firms made our list—as, perhaps not surprisingly, did three collection agencies. Read on to find out how they defied the downturn, and what they’re planning to do next.

Base: Mount Laurel
In business since: 2008
Revenue growth: 217,968%
Nope, that growth figure is no typo. This search engine optimization (SEO) firm has seen an explosive revenue increase, from $957 in 2008 to $2.087 million in 2010. They project $15 million in revenues this year, and have a staff of 150 employees bracing for an international expansion that includes eight offices across the nation and four more internationally. The company, founded by Ken Wisnefski, also offers analytics, e-commerce, local search, multilingual and video SEO, web development and other services.

Free For All, Inc.
Base: Marlton
In business since: 2007
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 730%
While many complain about the price of prescription medications, Free For All does something about it. The company offers discounts through its free RxCut cards, available for use at most major pharmacy chains nationwide. Free For All has expanded its base by partnering with businesses and nonprofits including the Phil­adelphia Soul and Support Our Soldiers Foundation. All told, the staff has grown from one employee to 17 since 2008, and the revenues have increased from less than $5,000 to $2.26 million.

Channel Logistics
Base: Camden
In business since: 2001
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 540.5%
Channel Logistics specializes in maritime domain awareness, including maritime threat an­alysis, mitigation and remediation; assymetrical warfare management; and research and tech­nology development. The company is helmed by Jatin S. Bains, who started out as a commercial sailor and was previously president of the Gulf & Orient Steamship Line out of New York.

Partz Logistics, LLC
Base: Burlington
In business since: 2003
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 246.9%
A supplier of powertrain components to commercial and government clients around the world, Partz has grown its annual revenues to $11.1 million in 2010 by promising streamlined parts ordering and procurement, reduced transaction costs and timely delivery. In the past three years, Partz has increased its staff from eight to 17 to accommodate a growing distribution base.

Pleasant Valley Home Mortgage
Base: Moorestown
In business since: 2009
Revenue Growth (2009-2010): 238.3%
An independent lender, Pleasant Valley came onto the scene in March 2009 and has grown from two employees to 30, bringing in revenues of $1.6 million. Founded by Jean Pollock and Sam Ramasamy, the com­pany is licensed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut.

Apex IT Group
Base: Pennsauken
In business since: 2006
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 164.7%
The information technology consultancy offers managed IT, cloud computing and project management services to a growing number of corporate clients. Through organic growth and acquisitions—including the purchase of Haddonfield’s On-Demand Technologies in January—founder George Mach has steadily grown both his staff and technology offerings.

Concord Engineering
Base: Voorhees
In business since: 1989
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 152.7%
This mechanical and electrical engineering and energy consulting company works with clients across the commercial, industrial and power sectors. Specialties include power plant design, facility design and operations consulting.

The Garr Group Inc.
Base: Cherry Hill
In business since: 1998
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 152.7%
Emily Gottschalk has built her one-woman marketing company into a formidable presence that includes TGG Direct, which creates and distributes DVDs and audio CDs, and TGG Digital Marketing, which provides customized content promotions, social media marketing and mobile marketing solutions for clients as large as Kellogg’s. With a staff of 15 employees, the company’s DVDs, (mostly repackaged editions of classic content like The Three Stooges and Petticoat Junction), are now found at major retailers nationwide, including Target and Walmart.

Base: Haddonfield
In business since: 2007
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 144%
Ameet Shah’s cloud computing consultancy has grown its staff from three workers to eight in the past year, and seen its annual revenues grow to $2.4 million. Conigent works with clients like GE, Siemens and Ralph Lauren to deploy software-as-a-service and cloud-based solutions, and is developing an application that will help nonprofits manage their organizations more effectively. As well, the company devotes 1 percent of its time and revenues to philanthropy.

Base: Turnersville
In business since: 2003
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 118%
SolarWorks provides design and installation of on-site solar energy systems for residential, commercial and utility-size clients. Founder Steve Masapollo recently added two new employees to meet increased demand.

Interactive Kids LLC
Base: Marlton
In business since: 2006
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 74.5%
With more than 15 years’ experience in school psychology, counseling and applied behavior analysis, executive director Megann Czekalski launched Interactive Kids LLC and quickly found abundant clients for her network of expert consultants in behavioral, educational and vocational services. Czekalski, previously of Bancroft Neurohealth, has teachers, behavioral consultants and applied behavior analysis therapists on hand to work with children at the facility or in school settings. The company brought in upwards of $688,000 last year with a growing menu of programs including teacher trainings, social skills group programs and individual consultations.

EHS Technologies Corporation
Base: Moorestown
In business since: 1996
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 55.6%
William and Denise Eckerle have put their business—which offers program management support, IT solutions, environmental consulting, logistics support, engineering and training—on the fast track in recent years. They have added three new locations in the past few years, including the Navy Yard in Philadelphia; Quantico, Va.; and Orlando, and they have hired approximately 45 employees this year. The company’s clients include the government and private industry.

Contemporary Staffing Solutions
Base: Mount Laurel
In business since: 1994
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 50%
Contemporary Staffing Solutions has grown from a regional staffing firm with one small office to a national staffing powerhouse with multiple offices in the Delaware Valley and more than 42,000 clients across 26 states.

Radwell International Inc.
Base: Lumberton
In business since: 1979
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 44.5%
Radwell, which supplies and repairs new and used surplus industrial electrical and electronic control equipment, has steadily expanded during the recession and now employs more than 450 workers. The company brought in $50 million last year, and recently opened a branch in the United Kingdom to accommodate a growing European client base.

Leib Solutions, Inc.
Base: Gibbsboro
In business since: 1986
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 42.3%
Leib Solutions, a commercial collections agency, more than doubled the value of its accounts from 2009 to 2010, when it was overseeing past-due accounts worth $110 million for national and global clients in the insurance, financial services and professional services sectors. The company boasts a 29 percent debt recovery rate—well above the industry average—and emphasizes preserving relationships and goodwill between clients and customers.

Para-Plus Translations
Base: Barrington
In business since: 1981
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 39.7%
Para-Plus provides translation, interpretation, transcription, and voice-over services in more than 100 languages to clients within a large number of specializations. The company, founded by Sonia Santiago, has grown their staff to more than 100 translators and interpreters, and their revenues to $2.4 million in 2010, serving clients including the U.S. Department of Justice, Met Life, AIG Life Companies and the FBI.

Grimley Financial Corporation
Base: Haddonfield
In business since: 1986
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 33.1%
Charles Grimley founded the company with a novel approach to collections: to get the highest possible returns for clients without sacrificing goodwill or professionalism. That philosophy, and the company’s focus on medical, education, consumer and commercial collections has yielded a high client retention rate that enabled the company, started with $10,000 in personal savings, to bring in $2.3 million in 2010.

Shades of Paper Inc.
Base: Mount Laurel
In business since: 2003
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 31.8%
Shades of Paper is a sales and distribution company representing a full line of digital inkjet printers, papers, canvas, inks and finishing supplies to the fine art, photographic, proofing and signage markets. The company, an authorized reseller of EPSON, Canon and HP products, brought in revenues of $6.98 million last year.

Costa and Rihl Mechanical Contractors
Base: Mount Laurel
In business since: 1969
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 31.4%
This family HVAC business has been on the fast track to growth recently, installing mechanical systems for churches, schools, warehouses, factories, government facilities and office buildings. Their team includes some 300 workers managing high-profile jobs across the region.

Arsenault Associates
Base: Burlington
In business since: 1979
Revenue Growth (2008-2010): 29.6%
When it comes to fleet management software, Arsenault has been at it for three decades. That niche focus has paid off: they’ve worked with some 4,000 client fleets under the brand name of Dossier Fleet Maintenance Software. The company has also seen its staff increase steadily, including a 31.8 percent boost from 2009 to 2010.

Base: Mount Laurel
In business since: 2008
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 28.9%
A managed IT, hosted VoIP, cloud services and carrier services provider, Ancero was born from the merger of Media Systems and Eastern IT Group in January 2008. Since then, managing partner Robert Hogg, executive director Fred Barilotti and executive sales director Paul Boyer have grown the company from 27 employees to 46, and the revenues from $4.5 million to $5.8 million, with projected 2011 income of $7.5 million. One of the top AT&T Solution Providers in the nation, Ancero expects to add five to 10 more employees this year as it continues its growth trajectory.

Advanced Benefit Advisors, Inc.
Base: Cherry Hill
In business since: 2005
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 22%
This corporate benefits consulting firm founded by Robert Petcove offers turn-key human resources and benefits management solutions customized for clients like Cornell Steel and Penske Automotive, along with other large and small businesses across the Delaware Valley. The company’s staff has steadily expanded throughout the recession.

GB Collects
Base: West Berlin
In business since: 2001
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 16.2%
Chasing down debtors may not be the world’s most enjoyable job, but for GB Collects, founded by George Bresler, it’s been a brisk business. Bresler built the company from a one-man show to a 60-person operation by making integrity his top priority. The company now offers a range of business process outsourcing solutions, including general collections, billing, accounts receivable processing, letter-writing and attorney forwarding services to 1,700 clients around the world.

RFID TagSource
Base: Camden
In business since: 2006
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 210.8% When Kevin Donahue was working as a consultant for Indiana-based software firm TechPoint, he was crushed when the company decided to pass on one of his key projects: a radio frequency identification system. “I saw immense value in the technology and I’d put several years of my life into learning all about it,” he says. “So, instead of walking away, I decided to do it myself.”

Donahue self-funded and launched RFID TagSource in 2006, and has seen its revenue grow exponentially, to $766,693 last year. The technology behind the product is similar to a barcode, but far more useful in terms of producing all-weather electronic labels that store information readable through an RFID scanner. Trucking companies, cargo transporters and the aerospace industry are all in need of specially designed tags that track inventory, maintenance history and other asset-management details. Boeing is a major customer, as is the military-defense industry and even Anheuser-Busch. In fact, according to the Cherry Hill resident and father of 11-year-old triplets, the sky’s the limit for the company’s potential client base. Among the company’s recent launches is the AeroTag, which will be used in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration to store maintenance history information on aircraft parts.

Donahue is eager to add at least half a dozen full-time employees to his current staff, which includes his wife, Shelley, the company’s operations guru, and a recent Rowan graduate who works with several subcontractors on RFID engineering. But banks still aren’t lending to small businesses, Donahue says, noting, “It’s very frustrating to know that the only thing impeding our growth is access to lending.”

Nevertheless, the company continues to thrive from its headquarters on Camden’s waterfront. Donahue attributes his success so far to “doing back-flips to provide excellent customer service,” including same-day turnarounds when necessary. “Large opportunities often come from small opportunities,” he says, “and a key aspect of our growth has been never taking for granted the opportunity to surpass a customer’s expectations.”

Magellan Hill Technologies
Base: Voorhees
In business since: 2006
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 131%
After 20 years in telecommunications, Brad Bono had watched the company he co-founded, PAETEC Communications, grow its revenues to $500 million and its employee ranks to 5,000. He was ready to downsize. So, he incubated Magellan Hill Technologies, based on a rare business idea for the industry: a customer-service-focused business model. “I felt as though there was a major need not being met, and it’s been my goal to go beyond simply selling a service to customers,” he says.

Bono’s business couldn’t stay small for long, though. Since the launch in 2006, Magellan Hill’s tiny office in Haddonfield grew into a larger site in Voorhees and an additional location in North Jersey. Lousy economy aside, revenues shot up more than 20 percent between 2009 and 2010, to $8.038 million.

However, despite his exploding business—which offers mid-size and large businesses, such as hospitals and government agencies, Internet, fiber-optic phone service and other communication solutions—Bono has vowed to keep his work local. His rule: He’ll never fly to meet a new client, he says. “If I can’t drive or take the train to meet them, I won’t take them on. I’ve spent a lot of my life in airports and hotels, and now that I have the option to be home every night in my own bed, that’s where I’m going to be.”

Magellan Hill currently has 24 employees, with plans to hire at least five more by year’s end, and a 2012 budget allowing for 50 full-timers. “I can see us expanding to a staff of 200,” Bonos notes, “but that would be the maximum size I’d want. It’s very important to me that we don’t outgrow the personal customer service that our clients enjoy, and I’m prepared to pump the brakes before we become too big.” After all, he adds, “if there’s one thing I’ve learned from decades in the telecomm industry, it’s that you just get a better level of service from the small guy.”
Base: Delran
In business since: 2001
Revenue growth (2008-2010): 55.2% began rather inauspiciously in 2001, as a shoestring operation based in company president Adam Moore’s Delran basement. “We truly had nothing in the way of start-up funds,” Moore says. “We had technical expertise and were able to put a few thousand dollars on a credit card—that was pretty much it.”

Since then, the niche e-commerce wholesaler and retailer has enjoyed tremendous growth, dodging the dot-com bust as well as the recent economic downturn. Between 2009 and 2010, revenues shot up by nearly $1 million, to total $4.16 million last year. Today, the company boasts a staff of 15 employees with plans in place to hire four more full-timers this year. Moore also expects to add a Midwestern distribution center in 2012. The online distribution hub of 10,000 products—from puzzles to computer games to coffee-shop beverages—has kept cash flow strong throughout the year by balancing holiday toy sales with a summer rush on specialty drinks.

“But the reason we’ve been able to remain profitable,” he adds, “is because we’re able to handle any and all technical issues in-house rather than outsourcing the work.” And, despite offering thousands of specialty items, the company purchases, supplies and ships everything directly to customers, as opposed to acting as a middleman between buyers and suppliers. This, Moore says, allows him to keep prices lower than the competition. He’s quick to note that the company’s success comes down to a focus on customer service, reliability and direct communication with customers. “In the end,” he says, “the question we must be able to answer is, ‘Can you deliver?’ And the answer is, ‘Yes—yes we can.’”

Taking up collections
A down economy is bound to mean one thing for those in the accounts receivable industry: there’s plenty of business to go around. That’s part of the reason why several collections and revenue management firms made our list of fastest-growing companies.

“Outsourcing and accounts receivable are in extreme demand, says Chuck Grimley III, chief executive of Grimley Financial in Haddonfield. “There’s more debt than ever before, across all the industry segments, whether it be health care, B-to-B, bank cards or education.”

On the other hand, notes George Bresler, chief executive of GB Collects in West Berlin, “In a bad economy, you’ll get more business in, but the business I’m getting is tougher to collect and I have to take smaller payments, so we have to work much harder to get the same amount of money in as in a good economy.”

For both firms, the keys to growth have been expanded services and a focus on relationship building. Grimley says that for health care clients, which now constitute 80 percent of his revenue base, he has begun handling the full revenue management cycle. That means he’s doing pre-collection work as well as bad debt. “We’re handling everything from cradle to grave” for many area clients like hospital systems, he says.

Bresler, whose focus has been veering toward commercial insurance and legal debt, says his clients and staff have become like a loyal family. “I break bread with my clients. I go their weddings. I go to their bar mitzvahs. They know my home number and my cell number,” he says. “After all, I am handling their financial lifeblood. That can’t be bought and sold; it has to be earned and trusted.”

The only thing holding back his growth, he says, is that he has become selective as to which clients his 60-person firm will take on. “My problem,” Bresler says, “is that there’s not enough of me to go around among my quality clients.”

High Tech
It’s been several years since the economy hit the skids, and between the ongoing lending and spending freezes, many regional businesses—if they survived the plummet—are still attempting to crawl out of the smoldering wreckage. Yet, if the wide array of South Jersey-based companies that not only made it through the crash but have managed to thrive in its aftermath are any indication of a fresh fiscal trend, then the tri-county area may well be on its way to recovery.

Among our list of fastest-growing businesses, many are centered on next-generation technologies—from innovative software designers and digital-content providers to weapons-program producers and transportation-based asset management.

Take EHS Technologies Corp., for example. The Small Business Association-certified, woman-owned enterprise in Moorestown has developed into a $20 million company with a staff of 80 employees and a product line utilized all over the world. Since its founding in 1996, EHS has evolved from offering environmental-compliance consulting and auditing programs to integrated logistics support and communication systems for the U.S. military.

“We now work on a variety of ‘energetic’ weapons products—we’re in the ‘swish-and-boom’ business, if you will,” explains president and minority owner Bill Eckerle, noting that the latter term is what the Army and Navy use to describe explosive propellants and bombs, respectively. Over the last few years, EHS has experienced a multi-million-dollar revenue increase, significantly added to its staff, and gained a number of lucrative contracts from the federal government. Homeland security spending has turned out to be fairly recession-proof, Eckerle says.

“When we started out, we could not have envisioned the type of work EHS is currently doing with Department of Defense installations all over the country,” he adds. “Some of this work and the technology behind it didn’t even exist four or five years ago.” Looking forward, the company’s pipeline is quite full, he says. Most recently, EHS wrapped up several new contract proposals for military bases in Florida and California. “The tremendous growth we’ve experienced lately may be partly attributable to being in the right place at the right time,” Eckerle notes, “but, regardless, it has been explosive.”

The region’s newer companies are not the only ones showing rapid-fire growth. With a recent revenue increase of nearly 25 percent and a 32-percent expansion of its employee headcount, Burlington-based Arsenault Associates remains a pioneer in tech solutions for the transportation industry—and a force to be reckoned with as far as industrial asset-management maintenance goes.

Chief executive Charles Arsenault, who founded his business in 1979, says a key factor in its success—in addition to the provision of superior customer service—has been the development of strategic alliances with other leading fleet service providers in telematics, wireless systems, and handheld data-collection devices. And, the award-winning company has a client base including more than 4,000 private and public commercial-vehicle fleets to prove it.

If such companies can grow this significantly in a sluggish economy, we can’t wait to see what they’ll do once things turn around.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 7 (July, 2011).
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