Clark County companies rank high for growth

National report finds bright spots in range of county businesses

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Vancouver-based ClearAccess is one of the fastest-growing U.S. companies to come from Clark County in years, according to a new ranking by Inc. Magazine.

The telecommunications software company was one of two Washington companies to make the top 100 in the 5,000 fastest-growing U.S. companies in 2010, announced Tuesday. And it was among 10 Clark County companies in the top 5,000 — three more than last year. From the metro area, 55 made the list.

ClearAccess ranked No. 66 nationwide, with $5.7 million in revenue in 2009, a 3,460 percent increase since 2006. The company also ranked No. 1 for growth in the telecommunications industry.

The only other Washington company to make the top 100 was Seattle-based QuoteWizard, ranked No. 36 with 5,950 percent revenue growth over the three-year period to $9.1 million.

Six-year-old ClearAccess has been steadily broadening its customer base among small to mid-size telephone, cable and Internet providers, which use its ClearVision software to remotely manage their customers’ home and small-business networks. The company reached a milestone of 50 customers last November and has since had some “key wins” among larger providers, said Steve Gorretta, director of product management for ClearAccess. It claims more than 60 customers now, but the total number of in-home devices it reaches is skyrocketing as larger service providers use the software.

Driving this growth is the proliferation of Web-connected devices such as laptops, smart phones, TVs, energy-management systems, home security tools and gaming consoles. Sales of smart devices such as e-readers, tablets and mobile phones are set to outpace retail sales in general and remain a bright spot in consumer spending, according to the Commerce Department and the Consumer Electronics Association.

ClearAccess helps Internet providers connect these devices to a wireless home network and troubleshoot without sending technicians into the field, while consumers gain a portal to manage all of their devices in one place.

“Consumer behavior has changed. They have more and more devices in their homes,” said Gorretta. “And there’s no one (else) with glue that puts it all together for consumers and (Internet) providers.”

Other Clark County companies on the Inc. 5000 list: Audigy Group, nLight Photonics, Global Business Center, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Silicon Forest Electronics, Ryonet, Hanson Construction, Papa Murphy’s International and Surf Cowboy, which produces the Agave denim brand. These companies reported 2009 revenue that ranged from $3.4 million (Hanson) to $26.1 million (Silicon Forest), with three-year growth rates from 16 percent up to ClearAccess’ whopping 3,460 percent.

Ryonet cited customer retention as the key to its 78 percent three-year growth. The company, which sells screen printing supplies online from its Vancouver headquarters and locations in Arkansas and Los Angeles, counted $14.6 million in revenue in 2009 and landed at No. 2,836 out of 5,000.

The company’s free, hands-on workshops and other support services are key to customer retention and thus to the company’s growth, said Ryan Moor, president.

“Those that we train are about five times more loyal to us and two to three times more successful than those that don’t get the training experience,” Moor said.

Ryonet expects to reach $20 million in sales in 2010 and is continuing to expand with sights on international locations in coming years.

Vancouver-based Silicon Forest Electronics attributes its 63 percent growth to its focus on the defense, aerospace and health care industries. With $26.1 million in revenue in 2009, the company ranked No. 3,154 on the Inc. list.

“We’ve increased our focus on unmanned systems and that has helped fuel our growth as that industry has emerged,” said Jay Schmidt, vice president of business development for Silicon Forest Electronics.

As for future growth, Schmidt said, “Our predictions are favorable but cautiously optimistic. Right now we believe there are some good signs in the marketplace.”