Posted: October 01, 2011

Top 250 Private Companies 2011

Pent-up demand boosted staffing firms in 2010

Mike Taylor

In contrast to last year's Top 250 ranking in which fewer than half the firms reported a year-over-year revenue increase, more than three-fourths of the companies in this year's ranking - 197 of the 250 - reported improved sales numbers in 2010.

Staffing agencies in particular stood out, with three Denver-based firms in that sector more than doubling revenues. Prodigy Resources, an IT-staffing specialist, grew 167 percent. hrQ Inc., an executive search and HR services firm, grew 153 percent. And Razor Tech Staffing grew 147 percent. (See the complete list.)

"I think it was kind of catch-up from the previous two years when companies didn't have the financial strength and weren't able to spend as much," said Brandon Brooks, co-founder and managing partner of Prodigy Resources. Prodigy, founded in August 2007, reported revenues of $6.2 million in 2010. Brooks says the company surpassed that number by July this year and should come close to doubling last year's revenue total.

Also helping firms like Prodigy, according to Brooks, is that Denver is consistently ranked among the top cities for tech-related job opportunities. He attributes that to Denver's central location on the map that facilitates travel from either coast, and Denver's relatively inexpensive business environment.

"The cost of running a business is a lot cheaper in Colorado than it is in California," Brooks said. "Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., are probably the top two (for IT employment), and those are two very expensive places to run a business. That's why a lot of IT is moving to Denver and Austin (Texas). We're in the middle of the country, and it's cheaper to set up shop and build out data centers or whatever it may be. And there are good engineering programs at the colleges."

Overall among this year's Top 250, Denver-based Allonhill, a third-party reviewer of mortgage loans, posted the top growth among companies in business at least three years with a 382 percent gain in 2010 over the previous year. Close behind was Denver-based Nimbl, an SAP (business software) consulting firm, with sales growth of 353 percent.

\OtterBox continued its upward trajectory. The Fort Collins-based maker of protective cases for handheld devices increased sales 250 percent in 2010 after posting a 377 percent increase in 2009.

Englewood-based CH2M Hill topped all firms for the fifth straight year. The employee-owned global engineering firm reported revenues of $6.3 billion for 2010, unchanged from the previous year.
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Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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