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Rochester Top 100: How they have grown

This is the 29th year of the Rochester Top 100, the annual program of the Rochester Business Alliance and KPMG LLP that recognizes the region’s fastest-growing privately held companies. In some ways, much has changed since the first list appeared in 1988. Back then, manufacturing was the dominant sector; this year, it ranks third. Total revenue for the 100 firms was roughly $3 billion; now, it’s more than four times that. And total employment has grown to nearly 100,000, up from roughly 23,000.

At the same time, there’s been a constancy to the Top 100 in several important ways. One is consistent, superior performance. Since 1988, the Top 100 has used the same methodology: All firms must have at least $1 million in annual sales; their ranking is based on dollar and percentage revenue increases over the last three fiscal years.

Here’s something else that’s been true since the beginning: Top 100 companies are not all cut from the same cloth. Indeed, you might say the list each year illustrates just how many routes to the top exist.

Twenty-eight of the businesses on the 2015 Top 100 are service firms, 22 are technology or e-commerce companies, and 20 are manufacturers. Another 15 are construction businesses, and the remainder represent financial services, retail and wholesale/distribution. Within those sectors is yet more diversity—everything from general contractors, metal fabricators and marketing firms to a laser hair removal business, a manufacturer of wood pellets, and a maker of beverages that maximize the health and wellness benefits of tart cherries.

Since becoming the Top 100 print partner with the RBA and KPMG in 2013, we have surveyed each year’s group of top executives to get their views on a range of topics. This year, among the questions was this one: What is the No. 1 reason your business is located in the Rochester area? More than a few mentioned the quality of life and the assets their businesses can draw on.

“Rochester is a wonderful place to find highly talented, motivated professionals and it is a great place to raise a family,” said James Gould of Alesco Advisors LLC.

We also asked if they ever had considered moving their business out of the Rochester area. Lawmakers and others who shape policy affecting business should take note: Half or so of the executives responded “yes.”

James Taylor of Taylor, the Builders, no doubt was speaking for others as well when he replied: “The high cost of doing business and a burdensome regulatory environment make New York a difficult place to grow.”

10/30/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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