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FCW : August 15, 2015
38 August 15, 2015 FCW.COM needs to start a company focused on helping federal agencies with IT infrastructure solutions, data center services and cloud integration. Halligan got his start at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). “I had the opportunity to really see some of the complexities and mystery around customers transitioning to the cloud,” he said. 2015 is the first year that n2grate qualified for consideration for the Fast 50. Companies must submit five years of revenue data, and they must be small businesses to qualify. They are then ranked according to their compound annual growth rate. This year’s rankings showcase the rich diversity of the small-business community. Several kinds of small businesses made the list, including 8(a), woman-owned, service- disabled veteran-owned and Historically Underutilized Business Zone companies. Several hold multiple designations. The companies also offer a diverse set of capabilities. There are a handful of consulting companies, such as n2grate, but there is also strong representation by firms that provide IT and professional services. In addition, the rankings highlight the staying power of many of the companies on the list. Four of the top 10 were also ranked in the top 10 last year. Overall, 21 companies are making a repeat appearance on the list. And while many Fast 50 companies are led by their founders, one is led by its savior. Patriot Group International (No. 3) had success early on but failed to adapt as the market changed. Enter Greg Craddock, a veteran of the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion. He and a group of investors acquired the company in 2009. By then, PGI had no contracts and no revenue, but it still had a good reputation. “Some of the relationships they started in 2004 helped us get our foot in the door and get in front of the customer,” Craddock said. The company’s growth skyrocketed from there, hitting 160.99 percent over five years. The growth is a culmination of a “lot of hard work and a little bit of luck,” he said. The company provides counterintelligence and security support as well as training in intelligence analysis. After such an explosive period of growth, the company’s leaders are now focused on managed growth. “The emphasis should be on smart growth in the areas we perform well in,” he said. Bob Lohfeld, CEO of Sev1Tech (No. 12), understands that philosophy. When he and five of his best friends, including his wife, founded the company, they focused on what he calls the principle of OCP — only competent people. “Let’s build a really good small business so that when it crosses the $35 million threshold, we’re going to survive and go to $200 million,” he said. So far, so good. The company is on the cusp of $20 million and has a compound annual growth rate of 113.55 percent over the past five years. Lohfeld credits the focus on employees as a key to the company’s success. “We want people to be all they can be because if not, what’s the point of waking up?” he said. “We hold the bar pretty high.” As a result, Sev1Tech has grown well beyond its data center roots. Lohfeld said he challenges employees to come to him with ideas. “I’ve put the challenge out to everyone in the company and said, ‘If you want to lead, lead,’” he explained. “‘Come to me with a plan, I’ll fund it, and let’s go build business in something you’re interested in because, quite frankly, some of the stuff that you guys are doing I’m never going to do. I’m a hardcore IT guy.’” With the growth rates that the Fast 50 have sustained over the years, hardcore might be the one common thread for all 50 firms. n Mark Hoover and Matthew Weigelt contributed to this report. “We want people to be all they can be because if not, what’s the point of waking up? We hold the bar pretty high.” — BOB LOHFELD, CEO OF SEV1TECH 0815fcw_036-040.indd 38 7/27/15 3:20 PM
July 30, 2015
August 30, 2015