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More make it to the top

Newcomers to the Rochester Top 100 credit different strategies for landing them on the list of the area’s fastest-growing companies.

This year’s first timers are a diverse group, reflecting the area’s varied business climate. Companies on the list include two specialty beverage firms, several home-improvement and construction companies, an array software and information technology firm, an optics firm, a moving company and a material handling equipment dealer.

There are 14 first-time firms on the 2014 list, compared with 12 a year ago.

For 2Touch POS CEO Eric Elwell, specializing was the key to growth. A canny marketing move that put his firm on the national radar of the firm’s target group of customers also helped. But to concentrate, he had to winnow his customer list, dropping clients that did not fit into the company’s narrowed focus.

Elwell decided to hone in on nightclubs, bars and restaurants. The company, under the firm’s legal name, Xenios LLC, initially provided point-of-sale systems and software to a variety of retailers.

“I’d been a dealer of software for 20 years,” he said. “But back in the day, I was a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Five years ago I decided to focus on a smaller, defined market segment.”

The tavern and nightclub market is a relatively small segment. But it presented wider opportunities than more saturated retail markets.

After seeing its revenue drop in 2011, 2TouchPOS saw topline growth of 10 percent in the following year. Last year, the firm’s revenues rose 32 percent. An 800 percent bump up in profits in 2012 was even more impressive, Elwell said.

“(The market) was wide open,” Elwell said. “You’d be surprised how many tavern owners never thought about (point of sale).”

Becoming a regular on the TV show “Bar Rescue” has given 2TouchPOS a boost, he added, helping to market the company’s services nationally. In the Spike cable channel reality series, host Jon Taffer works with struggling bar owners to turn their businesses around.

Elwell contacted Taffer to offer 2Touch POS’ services and started being included as a regular during the show’s second season in 2012. The firm usually works with clients remotely from its St. Paul Street offices, which allows it to serve taverns and nightclubs in any location. For “Bar Rescue” consultations, he flies to whatever city Taffer is working in to make an in-person appearance, Elwell said.

Inde is a 4-year-old kitchen and bath remodeling firm based in Victor, Ontario County. The company follows a business model that is used in some larger markets but unique here, Inde principal James P. Barbato said.

Formed as a partnership between two area homebuilders— Morrell Builders Inc. and Pride Mark Homes Inc., headed by Barbato and his father, James R. Barbato, the home-building firm’s founder—Inde partly exists to serve the clients of custom homebuilders but does a big slice of its business with remodeling clients.

In first-tier metropolitan markets, James P. Barbato said, it is not unusual for custom homebuilders to form their own kitchen and bath companies, which they use primarily to serve their own customers.

For a single builder in a midsize market such as Rochester, forming such a firm would not make sense. But the combined output of two homebuilders did, Barbato said.

Founded in 2010, Inde did $1 million in business in its first year. It tripled revenues to $3 million in year two and last year doubled the previous year’s take to $6 million.

Inde’s staff includes interior designers and kitchen and bath design specialists. It has in-house teams of installers as well as longstanding relationships with crews of outside contractors. It employs 25 workers.

Its setup has advantages for both clients and the company.

For clients, Barbato said, Inde offers one-stop shopping that takes a kitchen or bath project from initial design to finished job. By combining forces, Pride Mark and Morrell Builders can get better prices on fixtures and materials and provide Inde clients with top-shelf fixtures at attractive prices.

Convenience and value have proven to be an attractive draw for area homeowners. Two-thirds of Inde’s business comes from remodeling customers who are redoing baths or kitchens in existing homes.

“People like our ability to pull an entire job together doing everything at a competitive price,” said Inde principal and Morell Builders CEO Jeff Morrell.

Faraci Lange LLP has long been known as one of the Rochester area’s top personal-injury law firms.

Personal injury law is not always a category that wins respect, Faraci Lange managing partner Stephen Schwarz concedes. But since its establishment in 1968, Faraci Lange has specialized in complex cases and has been careful about which cases it takes.

While many personal injury firms rely heavily on television advertising to bring in large numbers of clients—hoping to reach quick, no-fuss settlements with defendants’ insurance companies—his firm weighs the merits of each case and is ready to go to trial.

To evaluate and help press medical malpractice cases, for example, the Rochester firm has nurses on staff. That approach, which requires heavy front-end investments in time and money in cases that can take several years to conclude, is not always conducive to fast growth. But it can lead to big payoffs.

While Faraci Lange has on average enjoyed growth over the last eight years, its revenues declined in two of the last three years, Chief Administrative Officer Katrina Connelly said. In 2013, the firm made up for the declines in a big way, however, showing a 126 percent jump in revenues.

Schwarz partly credits the increase to new business in the Buffalo office, which opened in 2011, but gives more credit to a case Faraci Lange helped prosecute against DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.

Settled last year, the case was filed on behalf of individuals whose DePuy ASR artificial-hip implants failed, causing pain and requiring additional corrective surgeries.

Faraci Lange represented the Rochester-area businesswoman who was chosen by the Ohio federal court, where DePuy complaints from around the country were consolidated, to be the bellwether case whose outcome would dictate the fate of others in the litigation.

Though the case never went to trial and Johnson & Johnson and DePuy admitted no wrongdoing, they agreed to pay $4 billion to some 12,000 litigants.

Not all of those litigants are Faraci Lange clients. But the Rochester firm is realizing a good return on the work it put into the case.

“We got into that case early, defended a number of clients and had some success,” Schwarz said.

First time on the list

  • 2TouchPOS
  • Avani Technology Solutions Inc.
  • Beltz Ianni & Associates LLC
  • Bristol Instruments Inc.
  • cheribundi Inc.
  • Faraci Lange LLP
  • Fee Brothers Inc.
  • Five Star Improvements Inc.
  • Hamilton Stern Construction LLC
  • Inde
  • Insley McEntee Equipment Co. Inc.
  • Just Solutions Inc.
  • Pioneer Millworks Inc.
  • Sheridan Brothers Moving

10/31/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Top 100 supplement. Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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