Driver David Dye talks on the phone as he climbs into his rig at Whitacre Logistics in Portage, Ohio.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Editor's note: This revised version shows The Douglas Co. being among those local firms that made the list.
In less than a half-decade, Gary Whitacre has turned his upstart logistics company with annual revenues of $1 million into a major trucking firm with locations across the Midwest that generated nearly $20 million in revenue last year.
That exceptional growth placed Whitacre Logistics LLC at No. 235 on Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the United States for 2013.
Whitacre, headquartered in the small Wood County village of Portage, was by far the highest-ranked local company, but it was joined on the list by 13 other firms in Ohio and Michigan, ranging from manufacturing companies to software developers.
Many are making repeat appearances on the list, including CentraComm in Findlay. The IT networking and security firm has been on the list for seven straight years.
Mr. Whitacre’s continuing success — he projects revenues of about $30 million this year — shouldn’t come as a surprise. He previously helped turn a small family grain-hauling business into a large intermodal drayage company that merged with six other companies and was later sold to a private equity group.
In the 1990s, that company, Whitacre Trucking, made the Inc. list twice. This year is the first Whitacre Logistics has made the list.
The 14 local firms on the Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest growing companies (rank, name, location, industry, and 2012 revenue):
About three-quarters of the company’s business is in intermodal drayage — that is, getting products to their final destination. For example, a T-shirt might be made in Hong Kong, shipped across the ocean on a freighter, then travel by railcar from California to Chicago.
“That’s where I kick in,” he said. “I pick up that load with my truck in Chicago and I bring it into Kohl’s in Findlay. Or maybe it’s parts that come in to Whirlpool in Clyde. We handle imports and exports.”
About a quarter of his revenues come from third-party logistics, which is essentially arranging transportation for other companies’ goods.
The company has more than 130 employees. When Inc. collected data for its list, Whitacre Logistics had six locations and ran 110 trucks. Now the company has 13 locations and is running 170 trucks.
Mr. Whitacre said the company soon will be at 200 trucks because of a new location in Indianapolis.
He credits the company’s growth partially to the business it is in. Mr. Whitacre said intermodal is the fastest growing segment of the transportation business.
But more than that, he credits his drivers and his team, many of whom he worked with in his old company.
“The message here is we’re a service company,” he said. “It’s all about really strong operations and back office people who deliver good service. It’s all about relations with customers and understanding our particular niche.”
Mark Robinson, the president of CentraComm, also said his company is in a strong segment for growth, which is part of what’s helped it be so successful.
“We’re in a good market space — computers, IT, and network security as it relates to business is a hot spot right now,” he said.
The company had revenues of $17.8 million last year, up from $6.6 million in 2009. Already this year the company has added about 10 employees, not an insignificant number when considering total employment is about 30 people.
It has also added employees in Detroit and Cleveland, in addition to an existing presence in Columbus.
“For our type of business, it’s really important for us to have local resources,” Mr. Robinson said. “You’ve got to have feet on the street in those markets.”
Both NovaVision Inc. in Bowling Green and Uckele Health & Nutrition Inc. in Blissfield, Mich., made their fifth straight appearance on the list. NovaVision makes holographic security stickers and labels. Uckele Health & Nutrition produces nutritional supplements.
On the list for the fourth straight year were two Toledo-based companies, Burkett Restaurant Equipment Inc. and ESD Inc., a health care IT consulting firm. Other local companies that made repeat appearances on the list were Toledo-based trucking and logistics company Bolt Express LLC, and Lightning Quick Gas-N-Go, a chain of convenience stores and gas stations headquartered in Adrian, Mich.
The Douglas Co., a commercial construction company that specializes in senior living and affordable housing also made the list. It was the third time the Holland-based firm made the Inc. 5000 list, last appearing in 2009.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at email@example.com or 419-724-6134.