VOL. 126 | NO. 197 | Monday, October 10, 2011
By Andy Meek
On the surface, they don’t have much in common other than their home turf. They include everything from a venerable law firm, prominent regional investment companies, tech firms and even a business that manufactures food products like hot dogs and sandwich meats.
3-D glasses come in almost every size, shape and color imaginable at American Paper Optics in Bartlett, one of 16 Memphis-area companies honored as nation’s fastest-growing.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
But the 16 Memphis-area businesses on the 2011 Inc. 5000 list – a high-profile annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. – have done something that seems to be eluding many companies right now, in addition to the overall economy. They’re getting bigger, and enjoying success at a time when many small-business owners are increasingly less confident about their ability to do so.
According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ latest Small Business Optimism Index survey, small-business owners in Tennessee and across the country continued to lose confidence about the economy in August. That index has been in decline for six straight months.
“The survey doesn't drill down to the state level, but based on what our members are telling us, what’s happening here reflects what’s happening all over the country – namely, that small-business owners are still really worried about where the economy is heading,” said Jim Brown, state director of NFIB/Tennessee.
That’s part of what makes the success of these area companies – a veritable Sweet 16 of the local business community – so noteworthy.
Monogram Food Solutions
First up is a Memphis-based company that manufactures meat products and features brands like King Cotton and Circle B. Monogram was founded seven years ago when a group of Memphis investors bought the King Cotton and Circle B food brands from Sara Lee Corp. In 2006, Monogram acquired Trail’s Best Meat Snacks from Sara Lee, and in 2007, Monogram began producing Circle B smoked sausages at a facility in Chandler, Minn.
Founded in 1997, AIL provides logistics expertise and services that include depot maintenance and support services. The company’s website lists clients that include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. AIL has racked up an array of awards, including several in 2009 and 2010 from Diversity.com, including being ranked among the top woman-owned and privately held businesses in the state.
Duncan-Williams Inc. is a Memphis-based full-service investment firm started by A. Duncan Williams in 1969 and has grown to become one of the premier broker-dealer firms in the Southeast.
It’s closing in on $500 million in revenue by 2019, the year of the firm’s 50th anniversary. The founder’s son, Duncan Williams, is the president today, and his mother, Carolyn, is the firm’s co-chairwoman.
The younger Williams has also overseen a major ramping up of the firm’s civic endeavors, which include everything from the firm signing up to be a title sponsor of the “Live at the Garden” concert series at Memphis Botanic Garden to underwriting The Soundtrack Project, a venture between the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
Mone’t Inc. is a financial services firm that, according to the Inc. 5000 rankings, serves as a commercial capital and mortgage loan broker. The company was formed in 2001 and opened a Memphis office a few years ago.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. (who was Shelby County mayor at the time) wrote a letter of recommendation for the company in 2009 displayed on the company’s website, which reads in part, “I was very impressed with the range of options which your firm offers to our local businesses. … As you continue your local marketing efforts, I trust you will be at the forefront in providing financial options to companies which meet your loan criteria qualifications.”
Inc.’s list describes RemitDATA as a Memphis company that sells Web-based services to help outpatient health care providers with reimbursement, utilization and productivity.
It was founded in 2001 and touts its ability to slice, dice and analyze data to help service providers boost revenue and productivity. The company says it “has the most comprehensive, provider-oriented Electronic Remittance Advisory (ERA) data in the market.”
Wunderlich Securities, in its 15th year, is another Memphis-based investment firm. It has a few hundred associates, more than a dozen offices across the country and provides services that include equity capital market research, financial advisory services and institutional fixed income sales and trades.
In the last several months, Wunderlich has added more than two dozen professionals to its ranks.
Founded in 2007, StatLink is another health-focused tech company.
The company’s flagship software product is Med DataLink, a leading medical data management platform that’s part of the reason the company is making big strides in the area of telemedicine.
Roughly a week ago, the company announced its launch of a Med DataLink upgrade that includes new scheduling features, data mining for business analysis and other services.
Founded in 1998, Treadmilldoctor.com is, according to the company, a fitness equipment services company that specializes in the repair and maintenance of fitness equipment.
The company humorously tells the story of how it got started on its website: “In 1998 Clark & Jon Stevenson faced a dilemma. You see, both Clark and Jon were in graduate school. Jon was studying to become the next great economist and Clark was trying to decide the meaning of his navel. Being industrious, however, Clark came up with an idea that Jon quickly embraced. Let’s fix broken exercise equipment!”
Memphis-based Pathmark is almost 30 years old. Its services include regional and national transportation of everything from small packages to truckloads, in addition to warehouse services.
Customers range from infrequent shippers to Fortune 500 firms.
Mahaffey Fabric Structures
Founded in 1924, Mahaffey is a leading provider of tent structures in the U.S. It rents temporary and portable structures for events like weddings, outdoor festivals, sporting events and more.
The company was founded by brothers Owen, Gene and Earl Mahaffey who started out making canvas tarpaulins, awnings and cotton picksacks, according to a history of the company on its website. They got a request in 1929 for a tent, a request they filled, but the client never came to pick it up. The brothers eventually got a call from the event that was a precursor to the Mid-South Fair, which was a precursor to the tent rental aspect of the business.
AMERICAN PAPER OPTICS
Founded in 1990, American Paper Optics makes specialty 3-D viewing products – it’s manufactured more than 1 billion paper 3-D glasses over the company’s history.
According to the company, among its recent accomplishments is the manufacturing of millions of 3-D glasses for a 3-D Michael Jackson tribute during the Grammy Awards last year. It also manufactured millions of inserts for a promotion in the English newspaper The Sun.
Cathie Hall, from left, Lydia Mims, and Johanna Burkett talk near the reception desk at Baker Donelson. The company, which is ranked as the 73rd largest law firm, was recently recognized with other local companies for its growth by Inc. Magazine.
(Photos by LANCE MURPHEY)
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC
Baker Donelson has been around for more than 120 years, and it’s one of the largest in the U.S. today. It has more than 600 attorneys and public policy advisers representing more than 30 practice areas. And already in 2011, the firm has picked up a slew of awards, including 194 attorneys honored in Best Lawyers of America’s 2012 edition and 66 attorneys across 24 practice areas recognized by Chambers USA in 2011.
Founded in 2003, directFX Solutions offers production and mailing services like digital printing and data management. The company also has a team of consultants that can perform graphic design services.
Unistar-Sparco supplies individuals, small businesses, government agencies and educational institutions. The company sells computers, mobile device equipment, printers and gaming accessories.
INTERACTIVE SOLUTIONS INC.
Interactive Solutions Inc. is a videoconferencing technology company celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The company provides custom integration of video conference and audiovisual equipment to be used in places like hospitals, classrooms and conference rooms. Company founder
Jay Myers won a 2010 Ethan Award for his book “Keep Swinging.”
International Sourcing was founded in 1994. It imports and distributes safety products to distributors and retailers across the country.