This is the case for Allied Industries, a demolition and environmental cleanup fi rm in Sherman Oaks, Calif., which shot up to No. 9 on this year's list from last year's 16.
Like MicroTech, Allied Industries does a lot of business with the federal government. Its business plan consists of the demolition and reconstruction of buildings, and the environmental cleanup and remediation of toxic areas.
On the cleanup side, Ernie Gutierrez, Allied Industries' 42-year-old CEO and founder, said the company specializes in everything from asbestos and lead removal to cleanups of petroleum spills and contaminated soil.
"If it's bad for you, we get rid of it," he told HispanicBusiness. Allied was founded in 1997, but it has grown dramatically in recent years. Annual revenues jumped to $24.5 million in 2009, up from $4.5 million in 2005. The company's workforce swelled from 80 to 200 employees.
Mr. Gutierrez said the decision to work with the federal government turned out to be a good one. "The government is the largest consumer in the world," he said, adding that his company has landed many contracts funded by the stimulus package of 2009.
Among Allied's ongoing projects is the cleanup of jet fuel at the San Diego Miramar Naval Air Station, where the movie "Top Gun" was filmed.
The Auto Industry
The recession has been particularly brutal for the auto industry. Nonetheless, some creative companies have found ways to thrive.
One of these is Miami-based AZF Automotive, which ranked 27th this year. T e dealership has carved out a unique niche: selling cars to customers and re-sellers in Latin America. AZF also provides federal government employees with vehicles.
Founded in 1993, AZF has seen its revenues jump from $9.1 million in 2005 to $28.7 million in 2009. "The reason is mainly because 'going green' is catching on overseas," Carlos Rafael Domenech, the company's CFO, told HispanicBusiness magazine. "We grew sales because there is a huge demand for hybrid vehicles."
In particular, the biggest spike in sales occurred in Ecuador, where the government eliminated duty taxes on hybrid vehicles in 2009. T is year, the duty tax on hybrids returned, but the fee is relatively low. "We are hoping other countries will follow," he said.
Some Remodel the Business Model
Extreme highs and lows have been the watchwords for Link America, a warehouse management and wireless communications firm based in Rowlett, Tex.
Despite the tough economic times, Link America jumped from No. 26 on the fastest-growing list to No. 6. "I had to change the whole business model three years ago," CEO Andres Ruzo told HispanicBusiness. "We were 100 percent equipment. Now it's 100 percent services."
When the economy tanked in 2001, Mr. Ruzo was forced to reduce head count from 100 to fi ve. Since then, he's been able to boost the employee base back up to about 25.In five years, the company's revenue has zoomed from $4.2 million to $40.7 million.
These days, about 75 percent of the company's income comes from warehouse services for telecom giants like Verizon and T-Mobile. But it is the other portion of the business that is unique: wireless communication services for police departments, fire stations, ambulance drivers and other first responders.
For this, Link America off ers an array of services, from erecting towers to building networks. It is currently creating a new network for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Mirroring a nationwide trend, a handful of companies based on health care experienced sizable growth last year. Most notable has been the meteoric rise of Molina Healthcare, which became the No. 1 company on this year's HispanicBusiness 500.
A healthcare system providing care to low income people in 15 states, Molina boosted revenues from an already stratospheric $1.6 billion in 2005 to $3.7 billion in 2009. T is year, it ranked 52nd on the fastest growing list, up from 63rd.
Expanding at an even faster rate is a handful of smaller companies in the healthcare arena. Link Construction, which specializes in healthcare facilities, more than quintupled its output since 2005, with revenues skyrocketing from $7 million to $37 million. It moved up this year from 12th to 10th.
Millennium Communications, a New Jersey company launched by former pharmacist Mike Fernandez, works to improve the communication flow between pharmaceutical sales reps, doctors and patients. The company has seen revenues mushroom over five years, from $1.6 million to $8.1 million. It came in at No. 11 this year, up from No. 14.
The Florida-based J&K Mechanical, which provides air conditioning, plumbing and medical gas for the healthcare industry, saw revenues grow in half a decade from $3.4 million to $11.5 million. Its workforce grew in kind, from 15 to 50. T is year, the company ranked 23rd. Last year, it wasn't on the list.
Some of the entrepreneurs in this group came from humble beginnings. The 42-year-old Mr. Gutierrez of Allied Industries was an employee in the painting and lead abatement industry with scant resources when he decided to pursue his dream of starting an environmental cleanup company.
A school in the Los Angeles area provided good training, but Mr. Gutierrez couldn't aff ord the classes. He didn't let that them stop him. He worked out a deal with the instructor in which he painted the classrooms and refinished the floors in exchange for his education.
"The next thing I know I'm teaching the courses," he said. Not long af er, Mr. Gutierrez had his own business. He said he racked up $80,000 in credit card debt getting the company off the ground. During that time, he lived in a humble rented room, where he stayed for nine years, until his business was established.
"There were times I literally could not pay my phone bill, and I had my phone shut off ," he remembers. But that was then. Now, Mr. Gutierrez owns his dream home in the San Fernando Valley and has season tickets for the L.A. Lakers. "My advice is one to have a goal, and persevere," he said. "To be tenacious about having that goal, and never give up."
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