50 flourishing small businesses you need to know

2010 Fast 50 list showcases the success and challenges faced by today's small-business contractors

Considering today’s economy, we didn’t expect stellar performers on the Fast 50. Our goal was to identify some of the strong steady performers.

But we were surprised by the stellar small businesses that populate the 2010 rankings.

Let’s start at No. 50. No embarrassment here. Ellumen Inc., of Arlington, Va., comes in with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63.7 percent over five years. That includes growing from $4.4 million in 2008 to $5.5 million in 2009.

Anyone would be proud of that kind of growth, particularly in the worst economic downturn in decades.

Ellumen’s key to success is common to others on the Fast 50 list: focus.

William McCollough, one of the company's founders, puts it best: “A little bit of luck, a little bit of foreplanning.”

For Ellumen, that means having the luck to be in one of the more important growth areas in the government market: health care IT. 

FedStore, No. 1 on the Fast 50 with a CAGR of 340.1 percent, also uses the word "focus" to describe its success. The company is a value-added reseller that puts an emphasis on selling solutions more than boxes or products.

Its focus is on networking, infrastructure, information assurance, storage, systems and management, said Matthew Cayouette, one of three brothers who run the business. It also helps that they hold a spot on the NASA Solutions for Enterprise-wide Procurement IV contract, one of the more successful governmentwide procurement vehicles in the market.

Between No. 1 and No. 50, there are a variety of companies that illustrate the diversity of skills and capabilities possessed by small businesses in the government market. Companies such as Mission Essential Personnel blossomed as an in-theater support contractor to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, while Ambit Group supplies consulting and program support to government agencies. Mission Essential Personnel landed at the No. 8 spot with a five-year CAGR of 173.59 percent, and Ambit makes a repeat visit to the Fast 50 with 118.01 percent growth rate.

This package celebrates the phenomenal growth of the small businesses on our list, but we know it isn’t all peaches and cream for these companies. Leaders of the five companies we profile in these pages talk about their successes and challenges that lie ahead.

And Matthew Weigelt comes in with an overview of the issues that face small-business contractors. He makes the argument that this could be the best and worst of times for small businesses in the government market.

Reader Comments

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 Gabriel Remmick

Good article. Some interesting comments about Mission Essential Personnel on the Wikipedia page about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Essential_Personnel

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