Top Fast 50: Business from A to shining Z

Top companies approach annual growth rate of 200%

How we got the numbers

The Fast 50 companies are ranked based on how fast their government revenues grew from 1999 through 2003. This includes federal, state and local revenues.

To be included, companies had to have a minimum of $100,000 in government revenue in 1999. They also had to meet the federal government criteria for a small business or be a member of the 8(a) program.

Each company provided Washington Technology with its government revenue numbers, along with a statement from an independent accountant verifying the accuracy of the numbers.

At No. 39 on Washington Technology's Fast 50, Artel Inc. is about in the middle of the bottom half of the rankings, but that's not such a bad thing. Artel, a Reston, Va., provider of IT, information assurance and telecommunications services, debuts on the rankings with a blistering 61.6 percent compound annual growth rate over the last five years.

Abbas Yazdani, the company's president and chief executive officer, has led Artel's growth in the government market from about $14.9 million in 1999 to $101.5 million in 2003. The company's growth also landed it at No. 97 on the Washington Technology 2004 Top 100 list, which ranks prime government contractors.

Among the company's contracts is a spot on the I-Assure contract with the Defense Information Systems Agency to provide information assurance and information security services. The company also won a DISA contract for satellite services.

The Fast 50 list ranks companies according to the growth of their government business over five years. To be considered, companies also must qualify as a small business according to the criteria set forth by the federal government.

At the top of the list is Cairo Corp., a Chantilly, Va., company that provides a range of IT services, including application development, data management, enterprise architecture and organizational training.

The company was founded in 1999 and generated $107,740 in business that year. In 2003, Cairo, led by president Alba Aleman, hit $8.7 million, a compound annual growth rate of 199.6 percent.

The top 20 companies of the Fast 50 had compound annual growth rates from 1999 to 2003 of 100 percent or better.

The Fast 50 company that's growing slowest -- if an annual compound growth rate over five years of 49.9 percent can in any way be called slow -- is Smartronix Inc. of California, Md.

The Fast 50 list also reflects the broad range of IT-related services that the government buys; such companies dominate the list at 15 entrants. There are 12 consulting firms on the list. Although many of the companies provide broad-based services, several on the list are carving out a niche.

For example, at No. 2, Softchoice Corp. of Arlington, Va., is a value-added reseller of software products from companies such as Microsoft Corp., Filemaker Inc., IBM Corp., Computer Associates International Inc. and Novell Inc. Softchoice saw its government revenue grow at a compound annual growth rate of 199.1 percent, rising from $715,000 in 1999 to $57.3 million in 2003.

Integrated Mass Storage Systems Inc. of Silver Spring, Md., the No. 17 company, has built itself by concentrating on the storage business. Since 1999, the company's revenue has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 103.6 percent, rising from $612,000 to $10.5 million.

Popkin Software and Systems Inc., No. 41, achieved success in the enterprise architecture market. The New York company develops software tools that help agencies map their IT systems and business processes.

Other companies on the list include systems integrators, professional services and engineering companies, and software developers.

Senior Editor Nick Wakeman can be reached at

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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