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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Midmarket Movers

The 73 fastest-growing private companies in Orange County with revenues between $10 million and $100 million collectively grew their combined top line by 76.1% over the past two years to $2.2 billion.

The companies also collectively grew their employment in OC by about 74% to 6,441 workers as of June 30, versus 3,711 two years earlier.

This week’s Business Journal Special Report includes three lists of the fastest growers here separated by current company size. The rankings are based on percentage increases of revenues—with a 15% minimum—measuring the 12 months through June against the same period two years prior.

It’s the eighth year the Business Journal has tracked OC’s fastest-growing companies, and the first time we’ve divided the list by company size. Businesses that reported revenues below $10 million were included in the “small” category; those with revenues ranging from $10 million up to and not including $100 million were placed in the “midsize” segment; and those with $100 million and above made up the “large” category.

The three lists overall feature 174 businesses, which grew by about 41.2%.

The midsize category had 73 entries that grew by 76.1%.

• The top spot went to Quick Bridge Funding LLC, an Orange-based financial services company that provides short-term working capital to small and medium businesses (see related story, page 24).

• The biggest employer on the midsize-companies list was Nekter Juice Bar Inc., which had 569 workers as of June 30, up from 135 two years earlier. The Santa Ana-based juice and smoothie chain had $21.4 million in revenue for the 12 months through June, a 638% increase.

Nekter Juice Bar was founded in 2010 by husband and wife Steve and Alexis Schulze.

Alexis was honored this year as part of the Business Journal’s annual Women in Business Awards.

The chain now has 40 locations, with most in California and others in Arizona, Texas and Colorado.

“We’re planning to finish the year with 50 locations … and with about 700 employees,” said Steve Schulze.

• No. 10, Paul Martin’s American Grill, had a 300% increase to $40 million in revenue. The restaurant chain, which has a head office in Newport Beach, has eight locations, including one in Irvine, and plans to open three next year, said President Anthony Smith. It was founded eight years ago by Paul Fleming, who also started P.F. Chang’s and his namesake steakhouse.

Smith pointed to an increasing consumer interest in quality food and dining experience, as well as to the company’s business model, which “allows us to serve the products at the price that we can,” as key factors that have supported the strong growth in recent years.

He added that there has been “a lot more [focus] on value” after the recent recession.

“People want to feel that what they received at the restaurant was fair for what they paid,” he said. “We had to change the way we were doing business, meaning we had to be more price conscious in our menu and had to maintain the level of service and quality.”

Paul Martin’s, for instance, developed a smaller-bites menu as part of its strategy of serving the post-recession market. The menu features items priced between $5 and $13.

The restaurant hadn’t had a corporate office until about three years ago, when it opened its Newport Beach office. It has about 110 employees locally.

Aquatic Technologies

• San Juan Capistrano-based Aquatic Technologies came in at No. 22 after debuting at No. 150 last year. The company had a 113% increase in revenue to $16.8 million following 25% growth in the year prior.

It makes swimming pools, spas and other water features for commercial developers and primarily serves Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Aquatic Technologies’ local projects include pools at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, community pools in Ladera Ranch, and the student center pool at California State University-Fullerton.

Cofounder and President Ken Hart credited the company’s ability to maintain and develop relationships with existing or potential business partners as a primary driver of the recent growth.

“One of the unique ways we managed to grow so fast was that the recession really spread the relationships around the industry,” Hart said. “About 50% of the growth is probably relationships we managed to keep through the recession. People are going to new startups, they’re all spreading around. And when they [land] a new company, they bring the people that they’re comfortable working with. [We see] a shake-up in the industry as an opportunity.”

Hart and two others founded the company in 1997 after having worked with a pool builder for some time.

“The industry was growing, and we saw a need … primarily in the OC market at that time,” he said.

The company had 74 employees as of June 30, up from 35 two years earlier. Much of the growth is due to the company’s growing service division, according to Hart.

• Rancho Santa Margarita Honda had the highest revenue for the year through June, at $93 million. That’s an increase of about 90% over a two-year period, good for the No. 26 spot. The dealership in Rancho Santa Margarita was No. 80 on last year’s list, with a 77% growth rate.

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