The Weatherhead 100 identifies the 100 top growth companies in Northeast Ohio based on sales from 2007 through 2011. Companies on this list must have sales of more than $100,000 in 2007 and more than $1 million in 2011. In addition, the companies on this list must have had a minimum of 16 full-time employees in 2011.

 

1. Magnus International Group Inc.

City: Painesville Township

Year founded: 2007

Sales growth: 2,735.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.magnusig.com

Magnus International is a manufacturer and distributor of unique, natural animal feed ingredients, natural waxes and alternative fuels.

 

2. MFS Supply LLC

City: Solon

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 2,306.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.mfssupply.com

MFS Supply is a leading manufacturer and distributor of security and hardware-related products for contractors, real estate agents and property managers.

 

3. CAFF LLC (dba Alego Health)

City: Westlake

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 1,483.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.alegohealth.com

Alego Health is a solutions provider of health care it services for hospitals and physician offices.

 

4. LeafFilter Inc.  

City: Hudson

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 1,441%

Employees: 50-249

www.leaffilter.com

LeafFilter Gutter Protection offers professionally installed gutter systems.

 

5. OuterBox Solutions Inc.

City: Akron

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 1,225%

Employees: 16-49

www.outerboxdesign.com

OuterBox Solutions offers website design, Web development, e-commerce and search marketing solutions.

 

6. OrthoHelix Surgical Designs

City: Medina

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 640.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.orthohelix.com

OrthoHelix is a medical device company developing a comprehensive line of implants for use in small bone surgery.

 

7. EverStaff LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 611.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.everstaff.com

Founded in 2001, EverStaff is a leading provider of both temporary and permanent job placement in the staffing industry.

 

8. Crosscountry Mortgage Inc.

City: Brecksville

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 509.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.crosscountrymtg.us

Crosscountry Mortgage is a mortgage lender and Fannie Mae direct seller and servicer with 48 nationwide branches and 48 nationwide licenses.

 

9. Knotice

City: Akron

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 456.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.knotice.com

Knotice is a provider of data management, actionable analytics and digital messaging solutions.

 

10. Boundary Systems

City: Middleburg Heights

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 382.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.boundarysys.com

Boundary Systems implements product life cycle management solutions for companies involved in new product development.

 

11. MediQuant Inc.

City: Brecksville

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 338.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.mediquant.com

MediQuant creates health care IT efficiencies with intelligent applications for revenue and data life cycle management.

 

12. Recon Logistics LLC

City: Chagrin Falls

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 337.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.reconlogistics.com

Recon Logistics provides transparent and cost-effective freight management solutions for small- to medium-sized manufacturers.

 

13. TOA Technologies

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 323.4%

Employees: 250-999

www.toatech.com

TOA Technologies is a global provider of field service and customer experience management applications.

 

14. Excelas LLC

City: Mayfield

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 315.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.excelas1.com

Excelas provides medical analysis to help health care organizations and insurers settle and win cases.

 

15. SpaceBound Inc.

City: LaGrange

Year founded: 1987

Sales growth: 200.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.SpaceBound.com

Founded in 1987, SpaceBound is a global tech distribution company. It’s the parent company of SQRSolutions.com, NothingButSoftware.com, PricePlunge.com and xsDepot.com.

 

16. E-merging Technologies Group Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 187.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.etg1.com

E-merging Technologies Group is a professional services firm specializing in security and technical services.

 

17. Bright Ideas Press LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 184.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.simplesolutions.org

Bright Ideas Press publishes Simple Solutions, providing lifetime mastery through educational materials for K-8 classrooms.

 

18. Fathom

City: Valley View

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 182.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.fathomdelivers.com

Fathom is a digital marketing agency specializing in delivering quality leads that drive profitable revenue.

 

19. SecureState

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 169.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.securestate.com

SecureState helps clients obtain and maintain their desired state of security through advisory services, audit and compliance, profiling and penetration tests, risk management, privacy, and research and innovation.

 

20. Moscarino Outdoor Creations Inc.

City: Columbia Station

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 169.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.CreateMyLandscape.com

Moscarino is an industry leader in landscaping design, maintenance and snow removal services in Northeast Ohio.

 

21. Amish Mills Inc.

City: Dundee

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 167.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.amishmills.com

Amish Mills Inc. manufactures solid wood kitchen cabinets and home and office furniture sold under the Amish Mills and Daniels Amish Collection names.

 

22. Adcom Communications Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 166.2%

Employees: 50-249

www.adcom1.com

Adcom is a modern, strategic, integrated communications company providing focused creative solutions across all media platforms.

 

23. Optiem LLC

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 165.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.optiem.com

Optiem fuels bright companies by developing brands, websites and online marketing programs that produce measurable results.

 

24. MUM Industries Inc.

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 164%

Employees: 50-249

www.mumindustries.com

MUM Industries companies provide a diverse range of industrial products from AODD pumps to electrical enclosures.

 

25. Matrix Healthcare Management Solutions LLC

City: North Canton

Year founded: 1998

Sales growth: 162.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.matrixmso.com

Matrix Healthcare Management Solutions provide training, design, implementation and support for revenue cycle management using NextGen Healthcare’s suite of practice management software and electronic health record solutions.

 

26. One Wish LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2005

Sales growth: 152.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.audimutesoundproofing.com

One Wish LLC is the parent company of MedicBatteries.com, AudimuteSoundProofing.com, AudimuteAcousticPanels.com and RetrofitLEDLights.com.

 

27. Signature Health Inc.

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 147.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.signaturehealthinc.com

Signature Health Inc. is a mental health counseling agency featuring the signature Health Access Clinic that provides same-day psychiatric services.

 

28. Blackburn’s Hubcaps & Wheel Solutions

City: Macedonia

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 144.8%

Employees: 16-49

www.blackburnwheels.com

Blackburn is an original equipment hubcap and wheel distributor serving the U.S. and Canada.

 

29. Amotec Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 143.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.amotecinc.com

Amotec is a professional recruiting and staffing firm committed to “Recruiting with Integrity.”

 

30. LayerZero Power Systems Inc.

City: Aurora

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 142.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.layerzero.com

LayerZero is a leading supplier of high-reliability electric power quality and power distribution equipment for critical facilities.

 

31. Findaway World LLC

City: Solon

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 140%

Employees: 50-249

www.findawayworld.com

Findaway is the creator of Catalist Digital, Playaway and Playaway View products that provide immediate access to content.

 

32. SS&G Healthcare Services LLC

City: Akron

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 136.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.ssandg.com/healthcare

SS&G Healthcare is a leader in financial and operational health solutions.

 

33. Datacore Consulting

City: Independence

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 132.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.datacoreonline.com

Datacore Consulting is a premier managed service provider for an array of IT services.

 

34. Griffith Holdings Inc.

City: Medina

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 126.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.ghiis.com

GHI is a private holding company operating Web design, marketing, telecommunications and software firms.

 

35. Fidelity Voice and Data

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 122.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.fidelityvoice.com

Fidelity Voice and Data is a leading telecommunications provider of data, voice, co-location and cloud services.

 

36. Patton Painting Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 115.8%

Employees: 16-49

www.pattonpainting.com

Founded in 2003, Patton Painting offers prolific professional painters, carpenters and artists.

 

37. Wojcik Builders Inc.

City: Oakwood Village

Year founded: 1986

Sales growth: 113.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.wojcikbuilders.com

Wojcik Builders has been a leading provider of commercial construction services in Northeast Ohio since 1986.

 

38. Neece, Malec, Seifert & Vitaz Inc.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 106.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.neececpa.com

Neece, Malec, Seifert and Vitaz is a full-service accounting and wealth management firm providing unique business and tax planning strategies designed to keep clients compliant while helping them achieve financial success.

 

39. Insight Services Inc.

City: Strongsville

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 106.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.testoil.com

Insight Services analyzes in-service lubricants in rotating equipment to assist in preventing catastrophic equipment failures.

 

40. Longbow Research LLC

City: Seven Hills

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 105.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.longbowresearch.com

Longbow Research provides investment research to institutional investors with a focus on mid- and large-cap equities.

 

41. Suburban Manufacturing Co. Inc.

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 1979

Sales growth: 102.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.submfg.com

Employee-owned Suburban Manufacturing is a precision machine shop, providing quality parts for more than 30 years.

 

42. Shankman & Associates Inc.

City: Solon

Year founded: 1978

Sales growth: 102.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.shankmanandassociates.com

Shankman & Associates is a regional manufacturers’ representative company serving the consumer packaged goods industry.

 

43. DuneCraft Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 102.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.dunecraft.com

DuneCraft domestically manufactures more than 250 themed seed-sprouting houses for premier retailers in the United States.

 

44. US Endoscopy

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 93.1%

Employees: 250-999

www.usendoscopy.com

US Endoscopy is a leader in endoscopy device design and manufacturing, delivering solutions to improve patient care.

 

45. AtNetPlus Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 1998

Sales growth: 89.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.AtNetPlus.com

AtNetPlus offers connected, secure and working business technology.

 

46. County Fire Protection Inc.

City: Kent

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 88.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.county-fire.com

County Fire Protection offers a wide range of services from fire extinguisher upkeep to security/access controls.

 

47. ACU-Serve Corp.

City: Cuyahoga Falls

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 87.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.acuservecorp.com

ACU-Serve provides billing and collection services to home medical equipment providers nationwide.

 

48. OurPet’s Co.

City: Fairport Harbor

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 86.2%

Employees: 50-249

www.ourpets.com

OurPet’s provides innovative pet products for dogs and cats with emphasis on feeders, toys and waste management.

 

49. The Priority Group Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 85.8%

Employees: 250-999

www.prioritygrp.com

The Priority Group includes the combined operations of three companies providing home care services, medical staffing and oximetry studies.

 

50. Peoples Services Inc.

City: Canton

Year founded: 1914

Sales growth: 85.4%

Employees: 250-999

www.peoplesservices.com

Peoples Services is a third-generation logistics company providing warehousing and transportation services in six states.

 

51. Ohio Technical College Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1969

Sales growth: 84.1%

Employees: 250-999

www.ohiotech.edu

Ohio Technical College is dedicated to providing premier training to prepare students for careers in automotive, diesel, collision repair, power sport/motorcycle, welding, and high-performance and racing technology.

 

52. DCT Telecom Group Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 81.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.4dct.com

DCT Telecom Group specializes in providing comprehensive telecom and cloud solutions to corporate customers.

 

53. Vocon

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1987

Sales growth: 80.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.vocon.com

Vocon is a leading architecture and design firm, creating distinctive work environments throughout the country.

 

54. Expert Construction Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 76.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.expertconstructioninc.com

Expert Construction Inc. is a leading commercial carpentry firm specializing in metal studs, drywall and acoustical ceilings.

 

 

55. Swift Filters Inc.

City: Oakwood Village

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 76.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.swiftfilters.com

Swift Filters designs and manufactures high-quality industrial filter elements, including both custom-engineered and OEM replacements.

 

56. Lake City Plating Co. Inc.

City: Ashtabula

Year founded: 1949

Sales growth: 75.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.lakecityplating.com

Lake City Plating Co. Inc. offers application of industrial coatings on metal parts.

 

57. Northeast Factory Direct

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 72.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.northeastfactorydirect.com

Northeast Factory Direct provides warehouse direct pricing on big-ticket items, such as furniture, hot tubs, kitchen cabinets and mattresses, with no membership fees.

 

58. SeniorTV-Stellar Private Cable Systems Inc.

City: Akron

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 69.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.seniortv.com

SeniorTV-Stellar Private Cable Systems is a national provider of cable TV, Internet and LCD TVs to nursing homes and retirement communities.

 

59. EnviroScience Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 69.6%

Employees: 50-249

www.enviroscienceinc.com

EnviroScience specializes in ecological consulting including wetland and stream restoration, endangered species surveys and natural resource monitoring.

 

60. e2b teknologies Inc.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 68.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.e2btek.com

E2b provides ERP, CRM and its Anytime brand cloud business applications to businesses worldwide.

 

61. Group Transportation Services Inc.

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 68%

Employees: 50-249

www.onestopshipping.com

Group Transportation Services is a nonasset-based third-party logistics service provider fulfilling the freight transportation cycles for business accounts.

 

62. Microplex Inc.

City: North Canton

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 67.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.microplex-inc.com

Microplex manufactures custom cables and wire harnesses for industrial automation, medical, military and OEM markets.

 

63. Grabowski & Co.

City: Uniontown

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 66.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.grabowskiandco.com

Grabowski & Co. is a strategic marketing communications firm that helps organizations discover and deliver their brand promises.

 

64. Angels in Waiting Home Care

City: Willoughby

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 65.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.aiwhomecare.com

Angels in Waiting Home Care offers professional skilled and unskilled home care services.

 

65. Ohio Realty Advisors LLC

City: Richfield

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 65.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.ohiorealtyadvisors.com

Ohio Realty Advisors LLC provides full-service commercial real estate management, development, advisory and brokerage services to corporate, private and institutional clients.

 

66. PartsSource Inc.

City: Aurora

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 65.3%

Employees: 50-249

www.partssource.com

PartsSource provides replacement parts and technology solutions to health care equipment service professionals around the world.

 

67. Wolters Kluwer Health Lexicomp

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1978

Sales growth: 64.8%

Employees: 50-249

www.lexi.com

Lexicomp is an industry-leading provider of drug information and clinical content for the health care industry.

 

68. Corporate United Inc.

City: Westlake

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 62.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.corporateunited.com

Corporate United is one of the nation’s largest group purchasing organizations.

 

69. OEConnection LLC

City: Richfield

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 59%

Employees: 50-249

www.oeconnection.com

OEConnection is the leading online parts and service exchange in the automotive industry and beyond.

 

70. SS&G Inc.

City: Solon

Year founded: 1968

Sales growth: 58.2%

Employees: 250-999

www.SSandG.com

SS&G is Ohio’s largest independent, full-service CPA, business advisory and management consulting firm.

 

71. Radcom Inc.

City: Hudson

Year founded: 1996

Sales growth: 57.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.radcomservices.com

Radcom is a custom learning solutions company that delivers content that counts.

 

72. Mutual Shareholder Services LLC

City: Broadview Heights

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 55.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.mutualss.com

Mutual Shareholder Services provides transfer agent and accounting services for mutual funds.

 

73. Briteskies LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 55.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.briteskies.com

Briteskies delivers effective iSeries, IBM WebSphere Commerce, Magento and enterprise software solutions both nationally and worldwide.

 

74. Etactics Inc.

City: Stow

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 54.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.etacticsinc.com

Etactics offers revenue-cycle solutions including software, color print/mail, EDI and EBPP for health care and commercial businesses.

 

75. Alliance Solutions Group

City: Independence

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 52.7%

Employees: 50-249

www.alliancesolutionsgrp.com

Alliance is a full-service recruitment/staffing firm serving its customers with single-source convenience across multiple specialties.

 

76. Empro Job Network/Thomas Employment

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 51.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.thomasemployment.com

Empro Job Network/Thomas Employment is one of Northeast Ohio’s leading providers of temporary and permanent staffing in the industrial, clerical, managerial, medical and home care fields.

 

77. Life Force Management

City: Streetsboro

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 51%

Employees: 16-49

www.lifeforcemanagement.com

Life Force Management is celebrating its 20th year in business and operates as an industry leader in ambulance billing services.

 

78. The Dyson Corp.

City: Painesville

Year founded: 1984

Sales growth: 50%

Employees: 50-249

www.dysoncorp.com

The Dyson Corp. is a domestic manufacturer of specialty fasteners and forgings for critical infrastructure applications since 1884.

 

79. TMW Systems Inc.

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 1983

Sales growth: 49.6%

Employees: 250-999

www.tmwsystems.com

TMW Systems software powers freight transportation services and heavy-duty fleet productivity across North America.

 

80. Lazorpoint

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 49.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.lazorpoint.com

Lazorpoint delivers the peace of mind that comes with strategic IT guidance, systems and solutions.

 

81. Fleet Response

City: Seven Hills

Year founded: 1986

Sales growth: 48.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.fleetresponse.com

Fleet Response is a leader in custom-designed fleet management services.

 

82. Aqua Doc Lake & Pond Management

City: Chardon

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 47.2%

Employees: 16-49

www.aquadocinc.com

Aqua Doc is a full-service lake and pond management company dedicated to making water beautiful.

 

83. Project and Construction Services Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 45.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.pcscmservices.com

PCS is an employee-owned and -operated organization providing exceptional construction services since 1988.

 

84. Geauga Mechanical Co.

City: Chardon

Year founded: 1950

Sales growth: 43.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.geaugamechanical.com

Geauga Mechanical Co. is a full-service design/build mechanical contractor.

 

85. Perspectus Architecture

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 41.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.perspectusarch.com

Committed to Cleveland, Perspectus is a nationally recognized architectural firm focused on design, master planning and project management.

 

86. Sequoia Financial Group LLC

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 39.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.sequoia-financial.com

Sequoia Financial Group offers comprehensive wealth management services for high-net-worth individuals and business.

 

87. 1-888-OhioComp

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1997

Sales growth: 38.4%

Employees: 50-249

www.1-888-ohiocomp.com

1-888-OhioComp is a workers’ compensation managed care organization serving more than 37,000 employers and their injured workers.

 

88. Hurricane Labs LLC

City: Independence

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 38.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.hurricanelabs.com

Hurricane Labs monitors corporate computer networks for security incidents caused by hackers, criminals and malware.

 

89. BearWare Inc.

City: Chagrin Falls

Year founded: 1988

Sales growth: 38.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.bearwareinc.com

BearWare provides freight tracking, payment and claims systems in specialty retail and other vertical markets.

 

90. South Shore Marine

City: Huron

Year founded: 1989

Sales growth: 33.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.southshoremarine.com

South Shore Marine is the regional dealer of high-quality new and select pre-owned boats and is a full-service marine facility.

 

91. Paragon Consulting Inc.

City: Mayfield Heights

Year founded: 1993

Sales growth: 32.4%

Employees: 16-49

www.paragon-inc.com or www.sitecorecleveland.com

Paragon is a premier IT consulting company, specializing in software development, digital marketing, content managed websites and mobile applications.

 

92. Guild International Inc.

City: Bedford

Year founded: 1958

Sales growth: 30.7%

Employees: 16-49

www.guildint.com

Guild International is a worldwide supplier of coil end-joining equipment for the strip processing industries.

 

93. Jarrett Logistics Systems Inc.

City: Orrville

Year founded: 1999

Sales growth: 29.9%

Employees: 16-49

www.jarrettlogistics.com

Jarrett Logistics Systems specializes in supply chain management services for high-growth North American companies.

 

94. Sheet Metal Products Co. Inc.

City: Mentor

Year founded: 1924

Sales growth: 29.4%

Employees: 50-249

www.smpohio.com

Sheet Metal Products is a precision contract metal fabricating company providing parts to major O.E.M. manufacturers.

 

95. Foundation Software Inc.

City: Brunswick

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 29.1%

Employees: 50-249

www.foundationsoft.com

Foundation Software is the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

 

96. Cohen & Co. Ltd.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1977

Sales growth: 26.5%

Employees: 50-249

www.cohencpa.com

Cohen & Co. is a regional CPA firm that focuses on helping privately held companies grow.

 

97. Weed Pro Ltd.

City: Sheffield Village

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 25.3%

Employees: 16-49

www.weed-pro.com

One of Ohio’s fastest-growing lawn care companies, Weed Pro serves thousands of customers in Cleveland and Columbus.

 

98. Interlift Enterprises

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1967

Sales growth: 23.9%

Employees: 50-249

www.ilttoyotalift.com

Interlift is Cleveland’s ‘‘Can Do’’ Toyota forklifts and material handling solution provider since 1967.

 

99. CRESCO Real Estate

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1991

Sales growth: 23.1%

Employees: 16-49

www.crescorealestate.com

CRESCO Real Estate is Cleveland’s leading locally owned, full-service commercial real estate company and Cushman & Wakefield Alliance partner.

 

100. Razorleaf Corp.

City: Stow

Year founded: 2000

Sales growth: 22.6%

Employees: 16-49

www.razorleaf.com

Razorleaf is a professional services group that provides expertise for engineering and manufacturing organizations by optimizing business processes through the use of leading technologies.

 

101. Assembly Specialty Products Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1971

Sales growth: 19.5%

Employees: 16-49

www.assemblyspecialty.com

Assembly Specialty Products Inc. designs and manufactures wire rope fittings and custom-fabricated assemblies.

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 03 January 2013 15:16

Weatherhead 2012 Upstarts

The Weatherhead Upstarts are companies whose percentage of sales growth qualifies for the Weatherhead 100 and that employed 15 or fewer employees and/or had less than $1 million in net sales in 2011.

 

1. Content Marketing Institute

Cleveland

Year founded: 2007

Sales growth: 1684.28%

Employees: 1-15

www.contentmarketinginstitute.com

Content Marketing Institute runs the largest international event in content marketing (Content Marketing World) and the leading magazine (Chief Content Officer).

 

2. Payroll4Construction.com

Brunswick

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 917.52%

Employees: 1-15

www.payroll4construction.com

Payroll4Construction.com is a payroll service provider just for the construction industry.

 

3. DXY Solutions LLC

Cleveland

Year founded: 2006

Sales growth: 377.69%

Employees: 1-15

www.dxysolutions.com

DXY is a mobile technology consultancy. We create innovative mobile apps and embedded products

 

4. Guggenheim Inc.

Beachwood

Year founded: 2009

Sales growth: 291.3%

Employees: 1-15

www.guggenheiminc.com

Guggenheim is a commercial real estate company providing comprehensive real estate services on a national basis.

 

5. Direct Recruiters Inc.

Solon

Year founded: 1983

Sales growth: 118.4%

Employees: 1-15

www.directrecruiters.com

Direct Recruiters, a leading executive search firm, strives to provide the best client and candidate experience possible.

 

6. Lakeside Produce Distribution Inc.

Rocky River

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 89.04%

Employees: 1-15

www.lakesideproduce.net

Lakeside Produce Distribution is a national distributor of fresh produce to salad manufacturers, retail stores and wholesalers.

 

7. JCF Marketing Inc.

Chagrin Falls

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 80.01%

Employees: 1-15

www.jcfmarketing.com

JCF Marketing is a full-service advertising agency specializing in strategic marketing driven by award-winning creative.

 

8. Request A Test

Brecksville

Year founded: 2001

Sales growth: 68.67%

Employees: 1-15

www.requestatest.com

Request A Test is a national leader in direct-to-consumer lab testing.

 

9. Joining Metals Inc.

Perry

Year founded: 2007

Sales growth: 67.56%

Employees: 1-15

website not available

Joining Metals specializes in custom fabrication, machining, laser cutting, forming and welding.

 

10. 42Connect Inc.

Beachwood

Year founded: 2002

Sales growth: 53.29%

Employees: 1-15

www.42connect.com

42Connect is a website design and development company that also does interactive demos, Web apps and email marketing.

 

11. Ardleigh Minerals Inc.

Beachwood

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 44.2%

Employees: 1-15

www.ardleigh.net

Ardleigh Minerals is a one-stop recycler of industrial materials, with aerospace industry specialization.

 

12. Town Money Saver Inc.

Newbury

Year founded: 1992

Sales growth: 39.82%

Employees: 1-15

www.townmoneysaver.com

Town Money Saver Inc. is a hometown-oriented monthly direct mail piece featuring local retail business.

 

13. O’Reilly Equipment LLC

Newbury

Year founded: 2004

Sales growth: 33.08%

Employees: 1-15

www.oreillyequipment.com

O’Reilly Equipment is a truck, trailer and snowplow equipment sales, service and parts facility.

 

14. Business Deposits Plus Inc.

Brecksville

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 27.76%

Employees: 1-15

www.depositsplus.com

BDP provides exceptional solutions in the retail multilocation banking supply market.

 

15. Pantek Inc.

Independence

Year founded: 1995

Sales growth: 26.07%

Employees: 1-15

www.pantek.com

Pantek provides comprehensive IT services to companies who use Linux and Open Source technologies.

Published in Akron/Canton

6. Weatherhead Centurions

Tradex International Inc.

City: Cleveland

Year founded: 1986

Sales growth: 61.2%

President: Saji Daniel

Tradex International is a leading supplier of disposable gloves and apparel.

 

Tradex International Inc. CEO Saji Daniel started his company out of his car. In 1988, the Cleveland State University student learned of a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate requiring health care professionals to use disposable gloves to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B. Daniel started buying gloves and selling and delivering them between classes door-t- door.

Now, 24 years later, Tradex is the largest U.S. supplier of disposal gloves, serving the medical, food, janitorial and industrial markets. The company provides Ambitex brand vinyl, nitrile, latex and polyethylene gloves in addition to protective wear such as hairnets and aprons and supplies such as seat covers and wipes.

“I had no background in the industry and didn’t know anything about gloves,” Daniel says. “But I saw an opportunity in the market and started the company as a part-time venture.”

Since then, the company has shown consistent growth at about 18 to 20 percent for the last five years, Daniel says. He foresees it growing at the same pace for the next five to 10 years.

Daniel attributes this success, even through the recession, to his company’s unique niche market, which he says is almost recession-proof. The company serves major food service companies and medical providers, and despite the economy, people still dine out or get sick, he says.

“Restaurants might slow a little bit, but if you go to a restaurant, it’s almost always packed and there’s almost always a wait. People are still going out to eat,” he says. “On the other hand, people are still going to hospitals because they get sick, and as the baby boomers get older, the nursing home market is growing. We just have that product that even through the recession, we continued to grow.”

Tradex’s success can also be attributed to its tremendous customer service, Daniel says. The $100 million company’s headquarters in Cleveland employs about 60 people. It also has distribution centers across the country in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles and offices in China and Malaysia that oversee production and quality control (all disposable glove manufacturing is done in the Far East; there are no U.S. manufacturers).

However, despite its big-company reach, Tradex has a small-company feel, Daniel says.

“Because of the amount of gloves we buy and sell, we are able to get them at a competitive price, and we pass that savings along to our customers,” Daniel says. “We also have excellent staff that provide quality service. Our customer retention rate is 99.2 percent. We never lose an account once we get it. And I’m actively involved in all aspects of the business; I go out and make sales calls and talk to customers.”

The company is also flexible and never says no, he says.

“We don’t just sell gloves; we offer solutions,” Daniel says. “We talk to people about why they should use a particular glove and how they can save money.”

In the future, Tradex plans to add several new products to its food service and medical markets. It is also looking into new markets, such as retail, so it can sell gloves in stores. In addition, it will be adding two more distribution centers and is currently looking at potential locations across the country.

Tradex is a nine-time Weatherhead 100 honoree, an honor it doesn’t take lightly.

“Being recognized by the Weatherhead School of Management, one of the leading schools for business, means a lot to us,” Daniel says. “It means we’re doing something right.

“And we’re proud of our local ties to the community. I went to high school and college here; it’s where my roots are. My employees are from here. And being located in the Midwest is amazing because Cleveland is a great center for distribution that allows us to ship all over the country.”

How to reach: Tradex International Inc., (216) 651-4788 or www.tradexgloves.com

 

Published in Akron/Canton

15. Weatherhead 100

SpaceBound Inc.

City: LaGrange

Year founded: 1987

Sales growth: 200.26%

CEO: Patricia Miller

Founded in 1987, SpaceBound is a global tech distribution company. It’s the parent company of Galactics.com, BargainStation.com, SQRsolutions.com, NothingButSoftware.com, PricePlunge.com and XSDepot.com.

 

SpaceBound Inc. began in 1987 as the brainchild of two struggling college students who needed a quick money fix.

Fast forward 25 years and the global technology distribution company has grown from an original line of 75 software products to more than 70,000 and is projected to process more than 720,000 orders by year’s end. In addition, it added seven new team members this year alone, bringing its total to 45 employees and increasing gross revenue by 65 percent.

SpaceBound offers high-end information technology products and storage solutions, small electronics and gadgets, software media and downloads and everyday home and office technology products and solutions. It does this within the business-to-consumer sector through Galactics.com, BargainStation.com, NothingButSoftware.com and PricePlunge.com and business-to-business and reseller sectors through XSDepot.com and SQRsolutions.com.

So what is SpaceBound’s secret to success?

“We know our value-added proposition and measure it frequently,” says CEO Patricia Miller. “During downturns in the economy, we’ve paid attention and reflected on what worked and what failed during similar times in our business’ history.”

Often, entrepreneurs become so immersed in just trying to get through each day that assigning a value to reflection and personal and company growth is placed at the bottom of the list, she says. But at SpaceBound, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We listen to our customers and our employees, park our egos and listen to those we trust, to those who have the answers and have been where we are headed or who can take us to where we want to go,” Miller says. “Relationships are everything; every introduction may open a door to 10 more possibilities we may not have considered.”

Because SpaceBound realizes the importance of relationships, it focuses on creating the best possible customer experience, allowing it to stand apart from its competition. SpaceBound offers live customer service agents to help its customers with any portion of their purchase, a live chat function on the websites for quick and easy communication, a live tech support department and advertised 800 numbers ensuring the customer never foots the bill.

But not all of what makes SpaceBound great can be seen on the outside. Internally, SpaceBound challenges its employees to become involved with organizations beyond the office. For example, SpaceBound employees work with the National Federation of Independent Business, knowing it's a great way to stay on top of what is happening with, and to, small businesses.

The company also encourages volunteerism.

“Chairing the first Walk for the Homeless in Lorain County, working monthly with the children of the Haven Homeless Center and adopting two platoons every year and providing for all of their basic requests until they return stateside are what bring the most pride and joy to SpaceBound,” Miller says.

In the coming year, SpaceBound faces big challenges, including a sagging economy and fears of another economic downturn. The company, however, plans to invest time and resources into growing SQRsolutions, its government and education division, and branding and expanding its daily deal site, PricePlunge.com.

“We will also be breaking ground in 2013 with the addition of 30,000 square feet to our LaGrange facility,” Miller says. “We are fortunate to have an amazing partnership with our banking institution, JP Morgan Chase, and that relationship has also assisted us in growing business at a record pace.”

SpaceBound has received many accolades, including a continued A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a third-time national recipient of the Inc. 5000 Award. However, being named a “Weatherhead 100” company is one of the greatest honors for SpaceBound, Miller says.

“It means SpaceBound is doing an amazing and noteworthy job and should celebrate its success,” she says. “Let’s be honest, if you have a business in Northeast Ohio, you want to be a part of the Weatherhead 100 at least once in your company’s career and point with pride and say, ‘That’s us; we built that.’ The Weatherhead 100 gives you the opportunity to do just that and share your success.”

How to reach: SpaceBound Inc., (800) 755-4619 or www.spacebound.com

Published in Akron/Canton

1. Weatherhead Centurions

Shearer’s Foods Inc.

City: Massillon

Year founded: 1974

Sales growth: 219.98%

CEO: C.J. Fraleigh

Shearer’s Foods manufactures/distributes Shearer’s Award-Winning Snacks and produces salted snacks for private label and co-pack customers.

 

Shearer’s Foods’ success speaks for itself. In the past five years alone, the Massillon-based snack-food maker has doubled its production, sales, facilities, product offerings and associates. “Shearer perfection in every bag” is the company’s motto, and the product quality epitomized by that phrase has always been, and continues to be, the  No. 1 reason for Shearer’s remarkable run of success.

Widely known for manufacturing and distributing its award-winning snack-food products, Shearer’s also manufactures private-label products for select retail-snack customers. The company has amassed numerous awards, not just for its business success and growth, but also for business leadership, manufacturing excellence, sustainability, customer service, new products and community service.

From its humble beginnings in 1974 when Jack and Rosemary Shearer, third-generation owners of Shearer’s Market in Canton, bought a snack-food distributorship, Shearer’s has grown dramatically, both organically and via acquisitions, to become the nation’s leading producer of kettle-cooked potato chips. In 2010, Shearer’s acquired Snack Alliance Inc., one of the fastest-growing producers of branded, contract pack and private-label snacks in North America. That acquisition positioned Shearer’s to serve private-label and contract manufacturing partners nationally with five manufacturing locations.

As Shearer’s has expanded its products and facilities, it has added staff to keep up with that growth. The company currently employs 1,900 — an increase of 300 in just two years — and it continues to hire new workers to maintain its extraordinary success.

In 2011, responding to market demands and new product development opportunities, Shearer’s completed construction of its Millennium Manufacturing Facility, the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified snack-food manufacturing plant. That facility’s development is a clearcut indicator of Shearer’s focus on the future of its industry and on minimizing its environmental impact on the communities in which it operates.

Shearer’s also addresses environmental responsibility via its Energy Management Program, an initiative aimed at producing great snack products while also helping preserve natural resources for future generations. And the company exercises great care in watching over the welfare of its employees, conducting on-site clinics and health screenings to monitor associates’ blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and body mass index.

In the summer of 2012, Shearer’s began moving into its new corporate headquarters in downtown Massillon. The main impetus for the move was to bring together 150 office workers who had previously been housed at three different company facilities and to benefit from the new energy and efficiencies that would inevitably result from having all of those employes working together under one roof. The new headquarters is in the office building formerly known as Grand Mill Centre. Shearer’s gutted and renovated the four-floor, 40,000-square-foot building, which will now house offices for Shearer’s employees in purchasing, sourcing, supply chain, operations, scheduling, transportation, product development, marketing, sales, customer service, finance, information technology and human resources, as well as the company’s executive team.

Also this past summer, Wind Point Partners, a Chicago-based private equity investment firm specializing in middle-market leveraged buyouts, announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Shearer’s Foods. Wind Point partnered with C.J. Fraleigh, who joined Shearer’s as chairman and CEO. Fraleigh, who most recently served as CEO of Sara Lee-North America, has 25 years of experience in consumer products.

“I’m very excited to be joining the team at Shearer’s,” Fraleigh said. “With the growth of private-label brands and the trend toward outsourcing for branded food companies, Shearer’s is well-positioned to continue its historical growth trajectory. I look forward to working with the company’s 1,850 employees to execute on growth opportunities we’ve identified and continue providing Shearer’s customers with excellent service and consistently high-quality products.”

Wind Point Partners’ acquisition of Shearer’s was completed in November 2012.

How to reach: Shearer’s Foods Inc., (330) 767-3426 or www.shearers.com

Published in Akron/Canton

1. Weatherhead 100

Magnus International Group Inc.

City: Painesville Township

Year founded: 2007

Sales growth: 2,735.6%

Co-owner, president and CEO: Eric Lofquist

Magnus International is a manufacturer and distributor of unique, natural animal feed ingredients, natural waxes and alternative fuels.

 

Magnus International Group Inc. bases its growth model on high-volume product development coupled with a high degree of trust in sharing information with its suppliers and customers.

That model is working remarkably well for the Painesville Township-based manufacturer. Magnus has achieved explosive growth during its five years in business. The lion’s share of that growth has taken place since 2010. Up to that point, Magnus had concentrated on converting petroleum-based waste into renewable fuels and all-natural waxes. But 2½ years ago, Magnus started concentrating on creating products for a new market segment — animal feed ingredients — and its business took off.

“By far, the largest segement of our growth has been on the animal nutrition side of our business,” says Eric Lofquist, Magnus’ president and CEO. “The growth on the energy side — renewable fuels and so forth — has been good from time to time, but natural gas prices are low right now, so that makes it hard to grow in that segment.

“However, our growth on the animal nutrition side has been strong and constant. Once we started focusing on the animal feed side about halfway through 2010, we really started to see the change. That’s when we started to grow in a big way.”

Magnus’ leaders attribute their company’s growth to two key factors: prolific new product development and getting those new products to the marketplace quickly.

“The year 2011 was by far our best one in terms of growth, in both real dollars and percentage,” Lofquist says. “We hit a real sweet spot with new product development, which has continued through 2012. Most of these new products are in the animal nutrition area; that’s where 90 percent of our new product development is focused. And we’ve been able to move the products from development out into the market very quickly because of the way we have our business structured with our partners.”

Magnus is uncommonly ambitious when it comes to developing new products.

“We want to have at least one new brand per quarter out in the marketplace,” Lofquist says. “So that might mean we’re working on three, four, five different products a quarter. Some of them won’t make it past the lab stage. Some might not cut mustard out in the market. But we’ve learned that we always need to have a bench of new products we’re working on from the development side.”

The speed with which Magnus is able to move products from development to market is based on the company’s close, partner-based relationship with its customers and suppliers.

“The way we structure our business and our relationships with our vendors and customers, we’re very transparent,” Lofquist says. “We share a lot of information about profitability and cost, and that helps us move to market much faster, as opposed to having the traditional vendor-customer relationship. We’ve modified these relationships to function like partnerships. Even though they’re not partnerships in the legal sense, they feel like partnerships because of the amount of information we share.”

Many of Magnus’ “partners” are versatile in terms of how they work with the manufacturer, serving as both supplier and customer at different times and sometimes in both roles simultaneously.

“We transform materials that are thrown away by food companies — fats, oils, greases — into a number of products,” Lofquist says. “Sometimes we’ll buy some material from a vendor, then make a new product from that material, then sell it back to them as a customer. So it crosses division lines for some of these large companies.

“It’s fun to be able to sit down with them and say, ‘We’ll pay you X for this material. It’s going to cost us Y to remanufacture it into this higher-level product. And then you can take that back to your marketplace or use it in some of your internal products.’ ”

How to reach: Magnus International Group Inc., (216) 592-8355 or www.magnusig.com

Published in Akron/Canton

95.  Weatherhead 100

Foundation Software Inc.

City: Brunswick

Year founded: 1985

Sales growth: 29.14%

Chairman and CEO: Fred Ode

Foundation Software is the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

 

Since Fred Ode first struck out on his own as a programmer in the early 1980s, he has made several decisions in business that have proved successful for Foundation Software Inc., the developer of Foundation for Windows construction accounting, project management and scheduling software.

In 1985, Ode, who serves as chairman and CEO of Foundation Software, spent two years writing the company’s original software application for the construction industry. It took about a year before he sold it in 1988. From there he converted the program to Microsoft DOS in 1990 to run under that environment and then introduced a Windows application in March 2000. The company has been in business for 27 years.

“Our main product is offering software and services to the business sides of commercial, industrial and government contractors — heavy highway, bridge builders, roofers, electrical and mechanical contractors,” Ode says.

One of the biggest turning points for the company was Ode’s decision to upgrade its software application from Microsoft DOS to Windows.

“In 1996, we decided instead of taking our DOS application and doing what’s called an overlay to make it look like it’s a Windows application, we decided to start from scratch and write a whole new application, and that took four years,” Ode says. “That decision is paying off huge now.”

Many of Foundation Software’s competitors took the easy road reworking their existing applications instead of taking advantage of new technology and new ways to design software.

Another crucial point in the company’s past was in 2008 when the recession hit. The market and the company’s competitors were suffering. While the competition was pulling back on advertising, trade shows and cutting staff, Ode stuck to his guns.

“Part of my philosophy has always been to conserve cash,” he says. “I’ve always accumulated cash, and we had a lot of cash in the company. So we didn’t change anything.”

Everything stayed the same with one exception –— Ode decided to increase research and development efforts.

“We kept our marketing and staffing equal and we increased our development, because the idea was when the recession starts to settle down and business starts coming back, we’ll be several steps ahead of our competitors both from a branding and marketing perspective but also in product development,” he says.

At this same time, Foundation Software decided to add a side company called payroll4construction.com, a symbiotic relationship where one feeds off the other.

“We get payroll service companies that want our software, and we get software companies that want our payroll service,” Ode says. “In 2008, the idea was to put our foot on the gas pedal as opposed to hitting the brake. It has paid off huge.”

In the first half of 2011 alone, Foundation Software saw sales revenue increase by 60 percent, and the company added 25 new employees. That success, however, didn’t come without challenges.

“The part that was hurting was our client services,” Ode says. “We have a great reputation in this industry for responding quickly, giving quality answers and for our training, but we fell a little behind.”

It took three to four months to get people up to speed in client services. Customers were used to getting their responses in 30 minutes and it dropped to 90-120 minutes.

“That was a barrier we had to overcome, but we are back down to 30 minutes and we’ve been that way ever since,” he says.

Currently, Ode and Foundation Software are in a great position to continue and improve upon the growth the company has seen.

“Positive cash flow is happiness and we maintain a lot of cash in the business,” he says. “Right now our assumption is we are going to continue growing.”

While being smart with cash has put Ode and the company in a strong position, he says he wants to make sure he keeps his focus on where the business is heading.

“The challenge is not getting too caught up in this current stage of accelerated growth and to be thinking five to 10 years from now,” Ode says. “The idea is to keep adding product that’s specific to the construction industry that has to do with the business side.”

How to reach: Foundation Software Inc., (330) 220-8383 or www.foundationsoft.com

Published in Akron/Canton

17. Weatherhead 100

Bright Ideas Press LLC

City: Beachwood

Year founded: 2003

Sales growth: 184.54%

Co-Founder and President: Nancy McGraw

Bright Ideas Press publishes Simple Solutions, providing lifetime mastery through educational materials for K-8 classrooms.

 

As an elementary school teacher trying to find new ways to help her students remember what they learned, Nancy McGraw tried a different approach. Her approach happened to work and the results she saw were so great she decided to write her approach out for every grade level in her school.

Eventually, she got another teacher outside of her own school to try it as well. The school’s test scores improved dramatically and other teachers and principals in the area started asking if the approach was available.

That’s how Bright Ideas Press LLC, the publisher of Simple Solutions, a series of educational books for K-8 grade levels and subjects, came to fruition.

“It began with a passion for making a difference in the lives of children and still today it’s our company’s goal to try to help students feel confident and successful,” says McGraw, co-founder and president of Bright Ideas Press. “We try to get our books into the hands of as many students as we can across the country.”

In the company’s founding days, that task was easier said than done. A fellow teacher, Kim Dambrogio, who is co-founder and vice president of Bright Ideas Press, agreed to help McGraw publish the original book, but traditional publishers gave them a tough time. So the pair decided to publish the book themselves.

While the company is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2013, its growth to this point has been primarily word-of-mouth and the use of free trials.

“We give away free trials and people see that it improves their scores, and they buy it and they tell other people,” McGraw says. “That’s how we’ve grown as big as we are. It’s just word of mouth endorsements from other people and letting people try it for a year to see that what we are saying is the truth.”

The company’s growth has also been aided by the addition of employees who share McGraw’s and Dambrogio’s passion for education. However, that success has been accompanied by growing pains.

“We started as a home-based business and up until a year and a half ago, that’s exactly what we were,” Dambrogio says. “At that time we had nine people.”

In February 2011, the company moved into a commercial space and now employs 20 people.

“A lot of things have had to change,” she says. “It’s been a lot of human-resource type things such as employee handbooks and policies. That was a good transition for us and we had to shift our thinking and so did our staff. That was one of the most difficult things that we’ve faced so far.”

That challenge was enhanced by the fact that neither McGraw nor Dambrogio had a background in business.

“The larger you get the more important knowing things about business and marketing and things like that become,” McGraw says. “We had to learn on the fly.”

Despite any challenges or shortcomings the co-founders had to overcome, Bright Ideas Press has seen steady growth over its 10 years. It has moved from one math book product line to publishing several areas of study and is gearing up for the future.

“Across the country there is a very big shift in education right now toward something called the common core state standards,” Dambrogio says. “Right now, 46 states have adopted the same set of standards for curriculum in math and language arts. That’s a first for this country.

The company is in the process of coming out with a whole new line of math books to meet these standards and is looking to revise and rewrite its English series according to those standards as well. In addition, the company is looking to move away from print books to focus more on digital content.

“Schools and parents are asking for it, so that’s the direction we are going to be moving in,” she says.

The company’s current direction and growth has meant a lot to its co-founders.

“For me it means that the dream that I had initially of trying to help children be successful has multiplied exponentially,” McGraw says. “Hundreds of thousands of students are using our products each year. So it’s been great seeing the dream explode.”

How to reach: Bright Ideas Press LLC, (877) 382-7537 or www.simplesolutions.org

Published in Akron/Canton

Weatherhead 100

1. Upstarts

Content Marketing Institute

City: Cleveland

Founded: 2007

Sales growth: 1,684.28%

Founder and executive director: Joe Pulizzi

Content Marketing Institute runs the largest international event in content marketing, Content Marketing World, and the leading magazine, Chief Content Officer.

 

When Joe Pulizzi left a media company some six years ago to found what is now the Content Marketing Institute, he knew the traditional way that companies go to market was changing — and changing big time.

“Instead of mostly through advertising sponsorship of some sort, more and more of those companies were creating their own content, looking and feeling just like publishers, and that’s what content marketing is,” he says. “Basically, it is regular talk about small, big, medium-sized and large companies, saying, ‘Look, in order to get any kind of attention, we need to create valuable, relevant, compelling content all the way through the buyer’s journey.’”

Pulizzi also knew it wasn’t easy for companies to get their own content marketing rolling through websites and social media as well as other channels and they needed somewhere to go for help.

“Content marketing takes a lot of effort; it takes a lot of processes,” he says. “It’s multiple channels; it’s both strategic and tactical. And most companies are really bad storytellers — I mean let’s just put it out there. And that’s why they want to hand it over to someone else. There is such a huge need for education, and we are trying to fill that need.”

The crowning jewel of the Content Marketing Institute, of which Pulizzi is executive director, is its Content Marketing World events, held in cities such as New York, Sydney and Cleveland. The event is the largest in content marketing and grows each year. A Columbus version last year drew 1,000 participants. Pulizzi’s goal is 1,500-2,000.

CMI also publishes a magazine, Chief Content Officer, and does consulting for Fortune 1,000 companies, such as Petco, AT&T and Allstate.

Pulizzi finds some real challenges working with content marketing and larger companies.

“If you are a marketer in a midsized to large company, you are dealing with hugely complex content issues because in a larger organization now, content is the most political beast in the marketing department,” he says.

“It is owned by everybody, there are lots of feuds regarding it but there is no real strategy behind it in most organizations. Most of the time, the content creators in big organizations don’t even talk to each other. It’s just all over the place now. So what we really try to focus on are complex content issues and how as a large enterprise marketer you can really try to figure those out.”

While any size of business can find help at CMI, Pulizzi realizes that midsized or large companies and PR professionals are the organization’s secret sauce.

“That’s where we feel the bigger problems are — and also a lot more revenue because these companies have the money to spend on this,” he says.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, Pulizzi feels very passionate about content marketing. He takes the Content Marketing World stage wearing a burnt orange three-piece suit. It gets the audience’s attention that it might be wise to hold on to their seats for his message.

“You’ve got to be a little bit different from the rest, and that could be the things you wear, the colors you like, things you do,” he says. “And those are the people at least in our industry who are getting the most attention. They do things a little bit differently.”

That’s why good, creative, compelling content that answers customers’ questions serves to differentiate a company from its rivals.

“Why the heck would they spend time with you?” Pulizzi says. “There are 10 million other resources where they could go to but what makes yours the best?

“If you’re not offering compelling content, you had better start investing time to both have an understanding of technology but more importantly to understand what your content strategy is.”

His advice is a three-pronged approach.

“Let’s say, you want your website to get found in Google — that’s search engine optimization. You want to drive online leads — that’s lead generation. Or you want to be successful in your social media efforts.

“None of those three start without first a good content marketing strategy. Because what are you going to have to say? You have to have something compelling to say to drive your business objectives.”

How to reach: Content Marketing Institute, (888) 554-2014 or www.contentmarketinginstitute.com

 

Published in Akron/Canton
Thursday, 03 January 2013 14:28

The 2012 Weatherhead 100

When voters in the Cleveland school district approved its first operating levy in 16 years, it wasn’t an anomaly. It was recognition that Cleveland is and has been in a progressive mode — and the region is in motion as new projects are being planned, developed and launched.

Just as a first-ever coalition of business, labor, civic and clergy groups joined to support the schools, area companies have been hard at work to ensure this revival of Greater Cleveland.

Entrepreneurs have been innovating. Economic development has been on the front burner. Projects have been completed — such as the Horseshoe Casino. The Cleveland Browns have a new owner. And towering supports dot the downtown sky as the new Innerbelt Bridge starts to take form.

On the following pages, you’ll find the names, facts, figures and stories of 126 area companies that have also contributed to the resurgence by accomplishing outstanding percentages of growth. We recognize them for their contributions to our communities and their demonstrated strength of the entrepreneurial spirit in our region.

For instance, Magnus International Group Inc. grew an amazing 2,736 percent in the past five years. Most of that growth has taken place since 2010. Magnus at that point started concentrating on creating products for a new market segment – animal feed ingredients — and its business took off.

When Joe Pulizzi left a media company some six years ago to found what is now the Content Marketing Institute, he knew a change was in the air for marketing. The digital world was facing companies, content was king, and they had to get on board. CMI has grown 1,684 percent in the past five years, largely through its events, including Content Marketing World.

The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and the Council of Smaller Enterprises are proud to honor the Weatherhead 100 class of 2012. Here are the class members.

Published in Akron/Canton
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