News Column

Fastest in the Fast Lane

July/August 2006, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine

Scott Williams

100 FG 2006

2006 Fastest-Growing 100® Companies. Five-year revenue growth for companies on the Hispanic Business 100 Fastest-Growing Companies® list jumped more than 35 percentage points between 2005 and 2006, recording higher productivity rates as measured by number of employees.

Companies on the 2006 list reported a 334 percent growth from 2001 to 2005 compared with 299 percent for the 100 companies on the 2005 directory. The list continues to be dominated by Florida with 28 companies, followed by Texas (18), California (12), and Virginia (11). With their 2006 performance, Florida companies now dominate the Hispanic Business 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list as well as the Hispanic Business 500® and the Top 50 Exporters lists. Alabama took Georgia's place as the state with the fifth-largest number of Hispanic-owned companies tying with New Mexico, with four companies each.

Although Florida has the greatest number of companies on the list and the largest revenue growth (385 percent) of any state, Texas recorded the highest growth in employment (284 percent) and the second-highest revenue growth rate (352 percent). California, despite having six fewer companies on the list than Texas, recorded 2005 revenues of around $2 billion compared with just more than $1 billion for Texas companies.

TerraHealth, Inc. reported 8,339 percent growth from 2001, when the San Antonio-based company started business, to 2005, making it the No. 1 company on the list based on five-year sales growth. The health care and military support company increased sales from $180,000 to $15 million in five years and increased its workforce from eight to 355 employees.

LatiNode, Inc., of Miami – twice-ranked the No. 1 company in 2004 and 2005 – showed how difficult it is to stay atop the fastest-growing list, dropping from the No. 1 spot last year with a five-year growth rate of 124,782 percent to No. 8 on this year's list with a growth rate of 2,139 percent. Even with the drop, the VoIP long-distance telecommunications company reported notable performance growth in gross sales, climbing from $42.6 million in 2004 to $71.4 million in 2005.

The company behind LatiNode – Urbieta Oil, Inc., of Medley, Florida – reported a five-year growth rate of 2,047 percent, increasing gross sales from $17 million in 2001 to $365 million in 2005.

Edwin Flores, CEO of Urbieta Oil, attributes much of the growth to two factors: acquisition of a major competitor and the increase in fuel prices. Urbieta Oil, founded in 1971 by Ignacio Urbieta, Sr., purchased Westar Oil in 2005, a move that added 26 service stations to the 33 it already owned and increased the number of stations it supplies by 50, placing the total at more than 100 in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

Although fuel price increases over the five-year period may explain some of the company's increase in gross sales, Mr. Flores says the company has tripled its sales volume of fuel sold since 2003 and currently sells slightly fewer than 15 million gallons of fuel per month. The Westar acquisition accounts for five million of that figure.

Mr. Flores says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, wholesalers like Urbieta Oil don't make more money when fuel prices climb because consumers begin shopping for cheaper fuel, creating a competitive pricing cycle that squeezes margins.

Clinton L. Vegas, president and owner of Ferriday, Louisiana –based Delta Fuel Co., Inc., agreed. Delta Fuel ranks No. 72 on the 2006 list with a five-year growth rate of 207 percent. Delta Fuel, which has recorded a 20 percent annual growth rate in each of the past eight years, supplies petroleum products to agricultural customers in northeast Louisiana.

"We're actually going through a pretty hard time in our industry now because it's taking so much money to stay in business," he says. Fuel price increases affect companies that supply fuel just like they affect everyone else. According to Mr. Vegas, rising energy costs are the key challenge facing the wholesale industry.

Mr. Vegas, who purchased the company from his father in 1995, said customers are working hard to conserve fuel and any growth will require the company to diversify by moving into the ethanol and biodiesel markets. Delta Fuel made its first big move in that direction by purchasing a shuttered Louisiana plant that will be used to make biodiesel. The 60-acre plant has 6.7 million gallons of storage space and will produce between 15 million and 25 million gallons of biodiesel its first year.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not affect the company's 32 percent increase in gross sales in 2005, as neither hurricane directly impacted northeast Louisiana. But following Katrina, fuel supplies were restricted to the point that the company had a hard time supplying their customers.

In terms of dollar increases, The Related Group of Florida recorded the highest increase in revenues from 2001 to 2005. The Miami real estate development company, ranked No. 1 on the Hispanic Business 500 and No. 33 on the Hispanic Business 100 Fastest-Growing list with a five-year growth rate of nearly 494 percent, increased sales by $2.7 billion, climbing from $547 million in 2001 to $3.3 billion in 2005.

CG Management, No. 45 on the list with a five-year growth rate of 337 percent, recorded the largest workforce growth. The Dallas-area restaurant management and real estate development company reported an increase in employment from 800 in 2001 to 4,000 in 2005.

Four companies made the top 10 in both revenue and number of employee growth. Brightstar Corp., the Miami distributor of value-added services for the wireless industry came in as No. 2 on the Hispanic Business 500, and ranked No. 56 on this year's fastest-growing list. Meanwhile, Long Beach, California-based Molina Healthcare, Inc., a health care services company and No. 3 on the Hispanic Business 500, ranked No. 69; followed by Group O, Inc., a Milan, Illinois packaging and printing services company coming in at No. 62; and Fred Loya Insurance, an El Paso, Texas auto insurance company, ranked No. 32.

Many companies that made the Hispanic Business 100 Fastest- Growing list are also on the Hispanic Business 500 list. Five of those 500 are based in Alabama, with four of the five on the 100 list located in the Huntsville area. Intuitive Research & Technology Corp. (No. 21), Analytical Services, Inc., (No. 67), SEI Group, Inc., (No. 77), and Advanced Federal Services Corp. (No. 92) are high-tech companies in what one Huntsville resident described as the high-tech Mecca of the South.

Holly McClain, communications director of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, said approximately half of the Huntsville-area economy is related to the high-tech industry, which is led by the U.S.Army's Redstone Arsenal.

Redstone Arsenal is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the U.S.Army Aviation and Missile Command, the Space and Missile Defense Command, and major components of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.

"We're very much a high-tech city as far as the makeup of our workforce and our employers,"Ms.McClain says. "Huntsville has the highest per-capita number of engineers and scientists in the nation."

The Huntsville area gained 4,700 jobs in the most recent round of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) procedure, Ms.McClain explains, following gains in the 1995 round.

"We have a tremendous amount of synergy between the federal agencies that are located out at Redstone Arsenal," Ms.McClain says.

Huntsville is also home to the 3,842-acre Cummings Research Park, the second largest research park in the nation and the fourth largest science park in the world. It is home to 220 companies and employs 24,500 people.



Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine and Hispanicbusiness.com, Copyright (c) 2006 All Rights Reserved.


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