Five Tampa Bay area firms made Inc. magazine's annual ranking of America's 500 fastest-growing private companies.
The list again spotlights fast up-and-comers in this market that rarely hit our day-to-day radar. But they do represent a key niche — private, increasingly technology-driven firms — gaining more business prominence.
These are well-run firms typically 6 to 12 years old that survived their startup years and are fast-tracking to become more influential players in the area economy.
At the top of the Tampa Bay list and ranked No. 54 nationwide is LabTech Software of Tampa. The 180-employee firm specializes in IT outsourcing. Founded in 2004, the company reported 2012 revenues of $23.1 million, representing a 5,208 percent growth rate over the past three years, the main criterion Inc. used to rank firms.
LabTech CEO Matt Nachtrab, 37, moved his company and five employees from Toledo to Tampa in 2010 to be closer to ConnectWise, a partner company. LabTech's furious growth proved "painful" at its peak, Nachtrab says, but customer satisfaction ratings are up and now hover in the 90 percent range.
"I sleep better at night now," Nachtrab says, adding that the company is still looking to hire in marketing and software development.
Also ranked this year is Tampa's Streamline Defense at No. 183, up 20 people this year to 60 employees, with a 2,236 percent three-year growth rate in revenues, which hit $6.3 million in 2012. It serves the military and special forces.
At No. 204, Clearwater's CWU added 471 jobs in the past three years to accompany its 2,062 percent run-up in revenues that reached $10.2 million in 2012. The firm provides the departments of Defense and Homeland Security with services ranging from language translation to counter-terrorism training.
Ranked No. 367, Tampa's Dynamix Mechanical saw revenues grow 1,212 percent to $13.3 million. Its 90 employees help build and maintain commercial heating and air conditioning systems for military bases and VA hospitals.
And finally among Tampa Bay firms, No. 480 belongs to St. Petersburg's Tower Cloud, a 53-employee firm with $15.4 million in revenues, representing three-year growth of 964 percent. The firm provides high-capacity wireless telecommunications services to help support today's insatiable bandwidth demand from laptop, tablet and smartphone owners.
"What's fueling our growth is the migration to 4G wireless networks," says Ron Mudry, Tower Cloud CEO. "We've tripled our employees in the past three years."
These five area firms are among the 34 private companies based in Florida to qualify for this year's Inc. 500.
Top-ranked among these Florida businesses is Jacksonville's HCI Group, an IT health care firm. It was No. 3 nationwide with a whopping 24,545 percent growth rate.
A complete list is at inc.com/inc5000/list/2013.
In last year's ranking, BlueGrace Logistics of Riverview, a provider of transportation logistics, was tops in the area at No. 20.
And in 2011, St. Petersburg defense contractor Crystal Clear Technologies ranked No. 5 nationwide in growth.
Neither BlueGrace nor Crystal Clear are listed in this year's Inc. 500. But both firms still enjoy solid growth.
Contact Robert Trigaux at email@example.com.