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What drives growth

Now in its 28th year, the Rochester Top 100 program of the Rochester Business Alliance and KPMG LLP recognizes the region’s fastest-growing privately held companies. Each year since 1988, the Top 100 has ranked these firms—all with at least $1 million in annual sales—based on dollar and percentage revenue increases over the past three fiscal years. What distinguishes these businesses, then, is superior performance over multiple years.

Yet the diversity of the Top 100 companies is striking. They are not all made from the same mold. This year, five of the companies on the list have been in business for a century or more—but nearly one-quarter of them are less than a decade old. Among the oldest companies are a law firm, a construction business and a maker of bitters, cocktail mixes and cordial syrups. The youngest firms include a health care services provider, a real estate sales company and a winery.

Another way to see the diversity of the Top 100 is to divide the list by industry category. Twenty-seven of the businesses are technology companies, 26 are services firms. Construction and manufacturing account for 15 apiece.

Clearly, many paths lead to the Top 100—but only a select few reach that destination.

Those who want to know how to spur growth in the Rochester area should heed the lessons that can be drawn from these businesses. It’s also important to listen to what their leaders have to say. Overall, they are upbeat about the local economic outlook over the next three years, a Rochester Business Journal survey of Top 100 executives found; slightly more than half said they are somewhat optimistic and nearly one-third are very optimistic.

But nearly one-fifth of the executives described their feelings about the prospects for the Rochester-area economy as neutral or pessimistic.

“Look at where population and jobs are going (Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina),” said Richard Dorschel of the Dorschel Automotive Group. “We need to revamp our tax structure and cut regulations in every direction. People want to leave New York!”

Joe Fee of Fee Brothers Inc. agreed. “New York State business taxes will continue to drive economic activity away from Rochester.”

Many of the executives who participated in the survey no doubt agree with John Nichols of the Nichols Construction Team, who noted, “Rochester is rich in entrepreneurial spirit and intelligence. As some industries, markets and major employers decline, new companies with new ideas and technologies emerge.”

When it comes to public policy, though, removing barriers to success should be a priority.

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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