BizTimes Media recognized the fastest growing privately-owned businesses in southeastern Wisconsin at the Italian Community Center Thursday with the return of the Future 50 awards program, after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Special recognition was given to this year’s Fastest 5 companies, which since 2019 grew their employment 60% and saw their combined revenue increased more than 84%.
Leaders of the Fastest 5 companies participated in a panel discussion. Each company represented a different industry and had a unique strategy that contributed to its success. Listen to the entire panel in the podcast player above.
Here’s some of what leaders of the Fastest 5 attributed to their company’s success:
Scott Doro, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Doral Corp., said identifying new market segments was key to the company’s success. Doral is a specialty contractor that offers equipment moving and rigging, as well as fabrication services. The company is featured on the cover of the Sept. 26 issue of BizTimes.
As manufacturing jobs were being shipped outside of the U.S. in the late ’90s, Doro and his team had to reexamine who their customers were.
“We had to identify different categories of business. As we analyzed it, we realized you’re not exporting food jobs. It became a new marketplace for us,” Doro said.
Doral has also recently broken into the material handling business. With companies like Amazon and Walmart building more warehouses across the country, this has provided another opportunity for Doral to grow.
Chris Shult, CEO of Sussex-based Bevco Engineering Co., attributed his company’s growth to an investment made a decade ago. Bevco designs and builds electrical control systems and panels for the industrial and health care markets. The company made a large investment in automation in 2012, which paid off in the long run as customers still see them as being forward-thinking and progressive.
“It was kind of a little bit of guesswork, like if we build it, will they come? We built it and they came in hoards,” Shult said. “Our health care industry (customers) have more than tripled.”
The move toward automation has also helped Bevco face the ongoing workforce shortage.
Rashi Khosla, president and owner of Town of Brookfield-based MARS Solutions Group, explained the ongoing labor shortage allowed her company to benefit from the high demand for workers. MARS is a technical staffing and consulting firm.
“I think at MARS, we were ready. We were ready with our technology and innovative solutions to that labor tightness,” Khosla said. “We were able to get a larger piece of the pie. The demand was there for everybody.”
As MARS has continued to grow, Khosla said she’s been able to maintain the company’s culture and keeps employees motivated by offering a strong work-life balance and making sure they are aligned with the company’s values.
Josh Brown, vice president of Oak Creek-based Bliffert Lumber & Hardware, said the company has been focused on expanding its product offerings. When he first started at Bliffert, the company was just a lumber yard. It now offers customers cabinets, roofing, windows, doors and “anything you’d need to build a home.”
“As we add those products and we add the people, that’s where the growth comes from,” Brown said.
Bliffert now has 260 employees. As those new positions have been added, company leaders have made it a point to make sure their workers feel heard. Brown was hired through a staffing agency in 2001 and thought his job as Bliffert would be a brief stint. It was owner Eli Bliffert’s openness to employee feedback that quickly changed his mind.
“Within three weeks, I think I was sitting in Eli’s office and he was asking me a question about what I saw and stuff that I didn’t really know anything about, but I just appreciated the conversation. That’s kind of how we’ve developed going forward,” Brown said.
Peter Gottsacker, president of St. Francis-based seasoning and flavor manufacturer Wixon, said creating new products – over 250 new products last year to be exact – contributed to the company’s growth. Wixon’s research and development department is made up of a team of 15 people who are constantly developing new flavors.
“They’re constantly on the cutting edge of what’s the newest trend and what’s new in nutrition,” Gottsacker said. “Keeping them as sharp as possible is really what has created and sustained us.”