Think it’s still a man’s world? These women would beg to differ.
The Women Presidents’ Organisation (WPO), a nonprofit membership group for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies, today releases its seventh annual list of the 50 fastest-growing women-led companies. This year marks the first time it has included applicants from outside the United States.
“We saw production soaring, with an average revenue growth of 203% from 2009 to 2013,” says Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of the WPO. “Not only is the financial growth of these companies impressive, it shows that women entrepreneurs are making inroads in non-traditional businesses, such as information technology, transportation, and engineering.”
The incredible growth of these companies is particularly impressive given the current business environment. Privately held U.S. companies ended last year with an average annual sales growth of 5.4%, the slowest growth rate since 2009, according to the WPO.
To qualify for the ranking, businesses had to be privately held, woman-owned or led, with annual revenue of at least $US500,000. The ranking was determined by both percentage growth and absolute growth over the four-year period from 2009 to 2013.
This year, the average company on the list has revenue of $US99 million and employs 657 people. And, proving it’s never too late to launch the next big thing, 90% of the women are founders, and the average age is 48.
Thirty-One Gifts ranks as the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the world. Based in Columbus, Ohio, it is a direct seller of purses, totes, fashion accessories, and organising solutions. Monroe, founder and chief executive, started the company in her basement in 2003.
2009 revenue: $38 million
2013 revenue: $760 million
Four-year growth: 1,900%
Four-year absolute growth:$722 million
Strategic Communications is a Louisville, Kentucky-based provider of technology services. Run by Mills, it ranks second this year.
2009 revenue: $US4 million
2013 revenue: $US97.3 million
Four-year percentage growth:2,332.5%
Four-year absolute growth:$93.3 million
WDS, Inc., an international warehousing, distribution, and inventory management company based in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, rounds out the top three.
2009 revenue: $13.2 million
2013 revenue: $US155.8 million
Four-year percentage growth: 1,080.3%
Four-year absolute growth: $US142.6 million
Ressler founded Cenergy in 1996, working from her home office in New Orleans. By 2001, Cenergy had outgrown Ressler's home and moved into its first office in the Central Business District. Today, Cenergy is based in Houston, Texas, and has over 1,300 field consultants, working in 17 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.
2009 revenue: $62.4 million
2013 revenue: $US280.7 million
Four-year percentage growth:349.8%
Four-year absolute growth: $US218.3 million
Based in Gurnee, Illinois, and with over 250 locations nationwide, BrightStar offices help keep parents and grandparents in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes, as well as assisting parents with their childcare needs. Sun is a regular on this list, ranking No. 1 in 2011 and 2012.
2009 revenue: $US51.7 million
2013 revenue: $US249 million
Four-year percentage growth: 381.6%
Four-year absolute growth: $US197.3 million
Erkunt Tractor Industries was launched in 2003 in Ankara, Turkey. Within a year, the company produced Turkey's first domestically designed tractors. As of today, Erkunt produces 65 different tractor models. Erkunt-Armagan, who is the only female CEO of a tractor company in the world, has been in the manufacturing industry for more than 24 years.
2009 revenue: $US24 million
2013 revenue: $US136 million
Four-year percentage growth:466.7%
Four-year absolute growth: $US112 million
Tower Legal Solutions is a full-service legal staffing company based in New York City. Leslie Firtell is a 17-year veteran and pioneer of the legal staffing industry and an attorney herself. Seeing the limitations of the traditional staffing model, she founded Tower Legal Solutions in 2007 and has since seen explosive growth.
2009 revenue: $US11 million
2013 revenue: $82.9 million
Four-year percentage growth: 652.6%
Four-year absolute growth: $US71.9 million
Morning Star Financial Services is a financial management firm based in Golden Valley, Minnesota. It provides fiscal intermediary and administrative services for individuals with disabilities and the elderly in Tennessee, Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, and in Minnesota via Orion ISO. Thomley serves as president and CEO of Orion Associates; Meridian Services, Incorporated; Zenith Services; and Orion Intermediary Services Organisation.
2009 revenue: $US1.1 million
2013 revenue: $US21.9 million
Four-year percentage growth: 1,890.9%
Four-year absolute growth: $US20.8 million
Kim has been involved in the fashion industry for more than 20 years. Her company, SungJoo Group, is based in Seoul, South Korea. Since 1990, it has successfully launched several globally renowned brands as an exclusive franchisee of Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Sonia Rykiel, and Marks & Spencer, with more than 100 direct run stores in Korea. The company has also acquired MCM's global business, distributing to more than 150 retailers in 30 countries worldwide.
2009 revenue: $171 million
2013 revenue: $371 million
Four-year percentage growth:117%
Four-year absolute growth: $US200 million
Boost Technologies is based in Dayton, Ohio, and is the parent company of Shumsky and Boost Rewards. Shumsky was established in 1953 and has since been a long-standing leader in the industry. Emoff is a native of Denmark who moved to the U.S. in 1994 and founded Boost in 1999.
2009 revenue: $US1.4 million
2013 revenue: $19.5 million
Four-year percentage growth: 1,292.9%
Four-year absolute growth: $US18.1 million
Wellness Corporate Solutions is a corporate wellness company based in Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to founding the company, Gathright owned a successful legal research company that served 99 of the top 100 law firms, as well as numerous investment banks. Rodman, a co-founder, is a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist who specialises in weight control, cardiovascular health, sports, and general nutrition.
2009 revenue: $692,000
2013 revenue: $12.6 million
Four-year percentage growth:1,720.8%
Four-year absolute growth: $US11.9 million
Technology Group Solutions, a certified minority- and woman-owned enterprise based in Lenexa, Kansas, is a provider of technology infrastructure and services solutions. Many of its employees are lifelong residents of the Kansas City metro area, which president/CEO Leonora Payne says fosters long-term relationships with its customers.
2009 revenue: $US6.7 million
2013 revenue: $US42.7 million
Four-year percentage growth:537.3%
Four-year absolute growth: $US36 million
Cenni founded Atrium Staffing in 1995 in New York City. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin and working briefly for a national staffing firm, Cenni set out to establish a firm focused on investing in her applicants and employees. She trademarked her Applicant-CentricTM philosophy, a system that fosters higher quality associates by providing benefits normally associated with corporate employment.
2009 revenue: $US48 million
2013 revenue: $138 million
Four-year percentage growth: 187.5%
Four-year absolute growth: $US90 million
Elting co-founded TransPerfect in 1992. Today, it is the world's largest privately held provider of language and business solutions. Headquartered in New York City, the company has over 85 offices in cities around the globe.
2009 revenue: $US220 million
2013 revenue: $401.5 million
Four-year percentage growth:82.5%
Four-year absolute growth: $US181.5 million
Manetta founded Argent Associates, a certified minority- and female-owned company, in 1998. Based in Edison, New Jersey, it is a supply-chain management and IT service provider focused on government, enterprise, and telecommunications markets. Prior to her venture, Manetta worked for more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry with AT&T and Lucent Technologies.
2009 revenue: $US113 million
2013 revenue: $243 million
Four-year percentage growth:115%
Four-year absolute growth: $US130 million
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