s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe

North Bay on Inc. 5000

Rank: Company, city, three-year revenue growth, 2015 revenue

  • 467: Moore Solar/Heating/Cooling, Santa Rosa, 815%, $9.2m
  • 1,064: Free Flow Wines, Napa, 368%, $4.5m
  • 1,588: Sway Group, Corte Madera, 238%, $5.2m
  • 1,850: Three Twins Ice Cream, Petaluma, 202%, $11.2m
  • 2,127: Star Staffing, Petaluma, 175%, $25.2m
  • 2,186: Bay Equity Home Loans, Sausalito, 168%, $97.5m
  • 2,257: EO Products, San Rafael, 161%, $28m
  • 2,354: ONEHOPE, Rutherford, 154%, $6.7m
  • 2,776: Yuba Bicycles, Petaluma, 126%, $2.4m
  • 2,894: ProTransport-1, Cotati, 119%, $82.4m
  • 2,953: Before The Movie, Fairfield, 116%, $4.7m
  • 3,088: Mogo Marketing and Media, Corte Madera, 110%, $13.3m
  • 3,511: Nelson, Sonoma, 90%, $232.8m
  • 3,529: OMW, Novato, 90%, $4.2m
  • 4,146: Equator Coffees & Teas, San Rafael, 67%, $11.8m
  • 4,187: Pacific Crest Group, San Rafael, 66%, $2.2m
  • 4,640: Merrimak Capital Company, Novato, 52%, $20.1m

Source: Inc. 5000 list, Aug. 17, 2016

Seventeen North Bay companies qualified this year for a national list of fast-growing private employers.

Four ranked for the first time on Inc. magazine’s annual Inc. 5000 list, released Aug. 17, six moved up in the rankings, and two returned after making the list in years past. Rankings were based on three-year revenue growth, with at least $100,000 in 2012 revenue and more than $2 million last year.

The highest-ranking North Bay company this year was Santa Rosa’s Moore Solar/Heating/Cooling, formerly Moore Heating & Air Conditioning. The 7-year-old installation and service company returned to the list for a third straight year, coming in at No. 467 with 815 percent growth to $9.2 million last year.

“It’s because we keep things to the basics,” said co-owner Jon Diamond, explaining the growth. “If you screw up and track mud on floor or damage the Sheetrock, you fix it.”

Curtis Moore started the company in 2009 and hired his best friend as the first employee in late 2010. Diamond joined as a half-owner in February 2011. There were 36 employees in mid-2015, and now the company employs 80. There are a half-dozen positions waiting to be filled from entry-level customer service to installation and maintenance technicians to a sales manager.

Because of a shortage of skilled workers and anticipated growth, the company often brings on those who come in with the right stuff, Diamond said.

“We hire for heart and train for the talent,” he said.

Revenue is on track for another big jump this year, to $20 million, Diamond said.

NEW TO THE LIST

North Bay newcomers to the Inc. 5000 this year were Bay Equity Home Loans of Sausalito, Yuba Bicycles of Petaluma, Nelson of Sonoma and Pacific Crest Group of San Rafael.

BAY EQUITY HOME LOANS

Three brothers — Brett, Casey and Jon McGovern — started Bay Equity in San Francisco’s Financial District in 2007 then relocated it to Marin County. The mortgage banker funds loans out of credit facilities then sells the instruments to capital-market investors. Eighty-five percent are conforming loans sold to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. The rest are jumbo loans sold to the likes of Chase, Mill Valley-based Redwood Trust and others.

Growth has come from transitioning to national lender from regional player, and the pace is accelerating with a new focus on retail lending, according to CEO Brett McGovern.

“Our growth is a result of our strategic plan for methodical growth across the country,” he said. “We bring on the best of the best loan originators.”

The workforce has grown from 23 in 2009 to more than 1,100 in 100 branch offices in 23 states. The company courts top originators in a target market before opening an office and strives to run the company as transparently as possible within the ranks.

Revenues last year were $97.5 million, up 168 percent over three years, on $3.1 billion in loan volume. This year, the company is on course to reach $130 million in revenue on $4.2 billion in loans on one- to four-unit residential properties, he said.

In December, Bay Equity shut down its wholesale lending division, which funded loans submitted by mortgage brokers, to focus on loans originated in its branch offices. More than three-quarters of the loan volume last year — $2.4 billion — came from the branches.

North Bay on Inc. 5000

Rank: Company, city, three-year revenue growth, 2015 revenue

  • 467: Moore Solar/Heating/Cooling, Santa Rosa, 815%, $9.2m
  • 1,064: Free Flow Wines, Napa, 368%, $4.5m
  • 1,588: Sway Group, Corte Madera, 238%, $5.2m
  • 1,850: Three Twins Ice Cream, Petaluma, 202%, $11.2m
  • 2,127: Star Staffing, Petaluma, 175%, $25.2m
  • 2,186: Bay Equity Home Loans, Sausalito, 168%, $97.5m
  • 2,257: EO Products, San Rafael, 161%, $28m
  • 2,354: ONEHOPE, Rutherford, 154%, $6.7m
  • 2,776: Yuba Bicycles, Petaluma, 126%, $2.4m
  • 2,894: ProTransport-1, Cotati, 119%, $82.4m
  • 2,953: Before The Movie, Fairfield, 116%, $4.7m
  • 3,088: Mogo Marketing and Media, Corte Madera, 110%, $13.3m
  • 3,511: Nelson, Sonoma, 90%, $232.8m
  • 3,529: OMW, Novato, 90%, $4.2m
  • 4,146: Equator Coffees & Teas, San Rafael, 67%, $11.8m
  • 4,187: Pacific Crest Group, San Rafael, 66%, $2.2m
  • 4,640: Merrimak Capital Company, Novato, 52%, $20.1m

Source: Inc. 5000 list, Aug. 17, 2016

Bay Equity has been working to insulate itself from falloff in loan volume from interest-rate volatility, McGovern said. Since 2013 the company has focused on funding loans to buy homes, rather that refinance them. Part of that includes rolling out tools for originators to be sure loans close escrow on time. Now, the portfolio mix is three-quarters purchase loans vs. refis.

“Interest rates are still depressed,” McGovern said. “But as the economy gets better, there will be more of a purchase market out there.”

YUBA BICYCLES

Debuting on the fast-growth list carries a lot of weight for the decade-old company that specializes in bikes designed to haul what a common bike isn’t suited for: passengers, groceries, tools, equipment. Revenue reached $2.4 million last year, ranking Yuba at No. 2,776 among the Inc. 5000.

“What’s happening, and it’s a little under the radar, is the pain of the urban environment when you have to go places,” said Benjamin Sarrazin, CEO. “People talk about self-driving cars, but a bicycle is simple and practical.”

A pilot program started in spring with AAA in San Francisco to replace tow trucks with two electric-powered bikes to serve the 80 percent of member calls to open car doors or jump batteries more quickly and at lower cost. Plumbers and electricians have been using toolbox-equipped bikes in dense cities over the years to respond to calls faster.

Though a decade old, Yuba last year dramatically updated and upgraded its product line. A big addition and step toward the “car-lite” goal was the Spicy Curry model, with an Electro-Drive propulsion system developed by Currie Technologies of Simi Valley. Retailing for $4,000, it has a 350-watt motor that helps move cargo up to 300 pounds away from a stop or up a hill. About 60 of them are rolling around San Francisco streets now.

Yuba makes only about 2,000 bikes a year, which is tiny by industry standards but big for the beefy bikes. The main competitor is another small-scale builder, located in Holland. Yuba’s goal is to expand distribution from Australia, Canada and Eastern Europe into the mature Western European market, Sarrazin said.

“Volume is growing, and the market is growing, so we’re currently looking to move to a new location,” Sarrazin said. “Last year, we did not have enough space in Petaluma and had to use a third-party logistics center.”

Yuba employs nine full-time now, up from five last year with three part-timers. With revenue last year at $2.4 million, Sarrazin projects sales to gross $3 million this year and potentially $3.5 million–$3.75 million in 2017, especially if gasoline prices spike like in 2008.

NELSON

New to the list this year, Nelson was founded in 1970 by Gary D. Nelson, later forming Nelson & Associates in 1988 and a year later, moved its corporate offices to Sonoma. According to its website, the staffing company has 19 locations in the U.S.

Revenue last year was $232.8 million.

PACIFIC CREST GROUP

Pacific Crest Group is a professional services firm that, according to its website, helps mature companies, start-ups and medical practices in the San Francisco Bay Area improve their bookkeeping and accounting, financial management, information technology infrastructure, and human resources and employee development practices.

This is what founders Franka Winchester and T.J. Van Voorhees said is propelling growth: “A focus on digital marketing and increased efforts within our community and focus on establishing ourselves as community thought leaders.”

Van Voorhees is president of the San Francisco chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization. The company hosts the 100 Marin charity event semiannually.

Revenue last year was $2.2 million, and it's expected also to be north of $2 million this year.

The company employs 20 and is hiring a controller, operations manager and two bookkeepers.

MOVING UP THE LIST

Six organizations moved up the list from their last rankings: Moore Solar/Heating/Cooling of Santa Rosa, to No. 425 from No. 825; Free Flow Wines of Napa, to No. 1,065 from No. 1,081; Star Staffing of Petaluma, to No. 2,127 from No. 2,690; EO Products of San Rafael, to No. 2,257 from No. 2,965; OneHope Wines of Rutherford, to No. 2,354 from No. 3,260 in 2014, and ProTransport-1 of Cotati, to No. 2,894 from No. 4,837.

FREE FLOW WINES

Free Flow Wines’ kegging, tap installation and logistics services have allowed the wine and hospitality industries to move away from bottles to a more environmentally friendly way of serving wine, at a time when more consumers are preferring to order by the glass. What’s crucial, particularly when working with high-end wines, is maintaining the integrity of delicate beverages while moving them from bottle or tank to the 26-bottle stainless-steel torpedo kegs without oxygen getting into to the kegged wine.

“The continued growth of the wine-on-tap market nationally has been a key to our continued growth,” said Jordan Kivelstadt, CEO and co-founder. “Our team here in Napa is traveling and spreading the word, increasing installs, and adding more wineries to our partners.”

Revenues were $4.5 million last year, up 55 percent from $2.9 million in 2014 and 368 percent over three years. Free Flow first appeared on the Inc. 5000 list last year, with 398 percent growth. Projected revenue could top $5 million this year, Kivelstadt said.

Kivelstadt and Dan Donahoe started Free Flow Wines in 2009 in Sonoma then expanded to Napa in late 2013. It arguably is the largest company for logistics and marketing of wine on tap at more than 3,900 restaurants, premium hotels, sports and entertainment venues nationwide. Free Flow manages more than 220 wine brands in kegs, such as OneHope Wines, Frog’s Leap from Napa Valley, King Estate Winery from Oregon and Constellation Brands.

Last year, Free Flow acquired a Bay Area installer of bar taps and formed Tap’D Solutions, which installs wine-specific systems in Northern California. Also last year, Free Flow inked a joint venture with New Jersey-based Gotham Project to set up a kegging facility to serve the East Coast. The facility is set for a soft launch next month and start accepting customer production runs in January, Kivelstadt said.

The company employs 42 and is hiring for Tap’D Solutions, finance and production roles.

STAR STAFFING

Production and manufacturing are on the upswing in the North Bay, and that has helped Star Staffing enjoy 175 percent revenue growth to $25.2 million over the past three years, according to Nicole Smartt, vice president and co-owner. It’s been all-organic and without a dedicated salesforce.

“We work tirelessly for the best solutions and care about our clients as best we can,” she said. “We make sure we’re sending the best people for the right position.”

It’s harvest time, and there has been big demand for cellar workers, forklift drivers, grape sorters and bottlers. Seventy percent of Star’s talent pool are for light-industrial jobs, with the rest working in clerical, administrative and higher-level positions. Hospitality employment is a growing area, and those with a retail bring with them important customer-service and multitasking skills, Smartt said.

The revenue growth doesn’t count the newly opened office this year in Elk Grove, Star’s sixth, driven by demand to fill wine-related positions in the Central Valley and growing Sierra Foothills wine regions. This quarter and the next are the biggest for Star’s placements, but it appears the company is on track to reach $30 million in revenue this year, Smartt said.

Yet a shortage of qualified workers is thinning Star’s talent pool too. Employers increasingly are buying out temporary and temp-to-hire contracts early when they find the right match.

“It shows the economy is doing much better,” Smartt said. “It is so hard to find good employees.”

The internal workforce now numbers 36.

Star Staffing debuted on the Inc. 5000 last year at No. 2,690 with 136 percent growth to $21.7 million in 2014.

EO PRODUCTS

List six-timer EO Products rose to No. 2,257 from No. 2,965. From a garage business in San Francisco 21 years ago, the body care company makes bath and body care products with botanical extracts and essential oils in a certified organic facility.

“With the increasing awareness around the importance of what products we put on our skin, our flagship premium brand, EO, continues to excel in the natural retail channels,” said Steve Fox, chief financial officer. “Our newer brand, Everyone, is geared toward families and is a line of affordable, healthy products.”

The Everyone brand allowed the company to jump from high-end products to mass retail. That extended further this spring, as Target stocked the brand in certain stores. A new line is Everyone Baby.

EO had $28 million in 2015 revenue. Projected 2016 gross sales are $35 million. The company employs 101 full time plus several temporaries. Seven positions are open in maintenance, supply chain, manufacturing and quality control, and hiring is expected to be brisk in the next few years.

The company added a second San Rafael building this year for shipping operations.

ONEHOPE

In 2014, the winery was ranked No. 3,260 on the list. This year, it came in at No. 2,354. It was begun by eight friends who, according to its website, produce wine, coffee and other items and with a pursuit of helping causes they believed in.

They report more than $2 million in donations, providing over 2,600 clinical trials for cancer patients, 13,000 forever homes for shelter animals, 1.1 million meals for children, 33,000 life-saving vaccines and much more. Revenue last year was $6.7 million.

PROTRANSPORT-1

In its sixth straight time on the fast-growth list, the ambulance services provider rocketed up to 2,894th place this year from No. 4,837 last year. And the 16-year-old company may be in the running the list again as it goes nationwide, acquiring three companies acquired in just the last six months — PRN Ambulance in Los Angeles, ATS Medical Services in Chicago and Century Ambulance Service in Jacksonville, Fla. — and launching a new brand, Covalent Health.

“We’ve worked with hospital partners to identify key challenges preventing them from providing high-quality, cost-effective patient care,” said Thom Herrman, president. “Based on these findings we have been able to develop add-on solutions that use our existing infrastructure to help address some of their biggest challenges.”

The new brand is part of the company’s quest to differentiate itself from other ambulance companies, he said. Additional services offered client health care providers include coordination of care, reduction in readmission rates and lengths of stay, rapid-response protocols and patient-satisfaction improvement.

Revenue last year was $82.4 million, up 41 percent from $58.3 million in 2014. Projected revenue this year is $120 million, which would be a nearly 46 percent jump.

The company now employs 1,880 nationwide, including 776 with ProTransport-1. It is hiring drivers, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and critical care transport nurses.

STILL MAKING THE CUT

Locals remaining among the fast-growing for another year were Sway Group of Corte Madera, Three Twins Ice Cream of Petaluma, Before the Movie of Fairfield, Mogo Interactive of Corte Madera and Merrimak Capital Company of Novato.

SWAY GROUP

An agency that connects brands with online “influencers” such as online writers, photographers and video producers, Sway Group returned to the list for a second year, ranking No. 1,588 with 238 percent growth to $5.2 million, down from No. 466. Revenue is anticipated to reach $6 million this year, according to Danielle Wiley, CEO and co-founder.

“We’re creating a community for women to join online and find support,” Wiley said.

Though it includes the major step in acquiring the SITS Girls online influencer network, it doesn’t reflect the latest big expansion for the 5-year-old self-funded company. Last month, Sway acquired San Francisco-based iFabbo, started in 2012 as the first beauty blogger network, now with about 3,000 influencers, including three-quarters of the top online writers about beauty and many in the key millennial demographic.

The Massive Sway network now has more than 90,000 influencers, mostly women. Wiley and Allison Talamantez, chief revenue officer, started the company in June 2011, and now other partners are Tiffany Romero, president of influencer management, and Francesca Banducci, chief operations officer. Coming from overseeing the digital group of advertising and marketing agency Edelman, Wiley and Talamantez looked to turn marketing consumer brands to “mommy bloggers” into a more professional endeavor.

The rise of social media has shifted online influencers beyond blogs to multiple platforms, so Sway’s team has to stay nimble in knowing whether Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine or some other platform will be the best fit between influencer and brand. Sway’s influencers write sponsored posts, act as brand ambassadors, interact on social media and create sponsored entertainment, such as incorporating a brand into a video.

The company employs 36, including contract workers, and is looking to reach 40 by year-end. Seasonal positions include key quality assurance positions, such make sure influencers include enough words in posts — 300 to get Google’s attention — or enough photos before getting paid.

THREE TWINS ICE CREAM

The organic ice cream maker got its start in 2005 with a scoop shop in Marin County. The company moved to Petaluma and opened its first plant there in 2010. Four years later it expanded with a second factory in Sheboygan, Wis.

Neal Gottlieb, founder and CEO of Petaluma-based Three Twins borrowed $25,000 from the “bank of Mom and Dad” and used $70,000 in savings as seed money to start on his startup journey. Last year’s revenue was $11.2 million.

Today Three Twins makes 23 packaged flavors available in pints, quarts and single serve cups along with three flavors of ice cream sandwiches, plus seasonal and specialty flavors.

“It's a simple equation: a great product for a fair price,” Gottlieb said. “Of course a healthy dose of authenticity, great branding, a dabble of flair and giving back seem to help as well.”

The company launched three products this year, three types of certified-organic cones. After two years of research and development, Three Twins released what’s said to be the first-ever organic sundae cones.

“While the competitor’s version doesn't meet the legal definition for ice cream and contains whey as its first ingredient, ours are made with organic milk that’s the main ingredient in the Madagascar vanilla ice cream that fills them,” Gottlieb said. “They're topped with delicious chocolate and peanuts. And yes, the bottom of the cone is filled with chocolate as well.”

The new organic cake cones are “the blue jeans of the cone world,” he said.

Three Twins’ new organic sugar cones are baked in the U.S. and contain less oil. The latter is intended to keep the cones fresh and crispy.

The company employs 82 in the two factories, headquarters and seven Bay Area scoop shops. Three Twins is looking for a senior vice president of sales to continue to propel growth.

BEFORETHEMOVIE

Before the theater trailers roll, BeforeTheMovie is there with highly produced content to keep viewers’ attention as advertisements, short features and other entertaining bits flicker on the silver screen. The Solano County company returned to the fast-growing list for a third year, ranking No. 2,953 with 116 percent growth to $4.7 million, down from No. 1,704 the year before. Revenue is projected to reach $6 million this year.

The 20-employee company has contracts to provide preshow content on more than 1,000 screens in 125-plus cities in 32 states. That’s up from about 350 screens and five employees when the company started in 2009.

The secret of the company’s success is being highly flexible with customization of preshows, according to Corey Tocchini, CEO.

“Some luxury theaters have a luxury preshow, and some art theaters have an art-centered preshow,” he said.

A push by theater chains to go upscale and a shift from film-based content to digital in the past few years has been relieving and challenging, he said. To go with the leather or plush seating and premium snack and beverage options, theater owners also want the preshow to match the experience, so luxury brands such as BMW and Cartier may replace other advertisers in the mix. And an ongoing deal with Playing for Change, which brings blends video performances of music played separately in various locations with engaging personal stories, can provide art-center interest.

About 80 percent of preshow content, including video, is produced in-house. But the shift to digital cinema, or D-cinema, for distribution of movies and other content to theaters means that delivery of fresh content to movie houses can take two or three hours of transmission time vs. two or three days of express-shipping time. Though the investment of a computer server or two per location to receive, assemble and play the preshow content can be a steep investment, so too is the $150,000 or so BeforeTheMovie spends annually on FedEx costs, Tocchini said.

As the company has grown, Tocchini has moved into business development, and last year his wife, Keyo, become president to manage day-to-day operations.

MOGO INTERACTIVE

Doug and Sheri Mowbray morphed Corte Madera-based Mogo Interactive morphed from a traditional marketing agency to the digital realm in 2007 and last year changed its name from Mogo Marketing and Media.

“Our growth has been propelled by our ability to help our clients connect, engage and activate customers with online advertising,” said Doug Mowbray, CEO. “Our solution enables clients to market across channels like websites, apps, social, video mobile and search in a coordinated manner.”

New this year are online tools to help clients understand the optimal sequence and frequency of online advertising to drive donations, purchases and applications.

“This enables them to increase the effectiveness of their advertising,” Mowbray said.

On the Inc. 5000 list this year, the company ranked No. 3,088 with 110 percent three-year revenue growth to $13.3 million last year. The company debuted on the list last year at No. 1,708 with 238 percent growth to $10.2 million. Receipts are projected to reach $16 million this year, Mowbray said.

The company has grown from six employees in 2010 to 45 now. A number of account strategist positions are open to work with 200-plus clients, including Redwood Credit Union; San Francisco Ballet; University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management; KPCC public radio in Los Angeles, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, and the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team.

In 2011, the firm launched the MogoArts division, which works with nonprofit arts organizations.

MERRIMAK CAPITAL

Novato-based Merrimak Capital Co. was founded in 1991, developing tax, transaction and advisory services, as well as fleet management, equipment leasing and asset recovery services. Revenue last year was $20.1 million.

BACK IN THE RANKING

Two other North Bay companies returned to the list after not ranking last year. OMW of Novato came back at No. 3,529, last ranking No. 3,077 in 2014. San Rafael-based Equator Coffees & Teas, whose founders Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell were named U.S. Small Businesspersons of the Year recently, made the list for a fourth time, at No. 4,146, after previously placing No. 3,840 in 2010.

OMW CORP.

OMW came back to the list for a fourth time, at No. 3,529, last ranking No. 3,077 in 2014. Revenue was $4.2 million last year and is projected to be $5 million in 2016.

President Joe Osborn founded the precision machine shop nearly 15 years ago. He and the 23 employees have grown OMW Corporation into a trusted, highly automated shop for customers such as SpaceX, Google, Nokia, National Instruments, Boeing and its Insitu subsidiary.

“There’s been growth in our major contract manufacturing niches: aerospace, electronics and medical parts,” Osborn said. “We’re continuing to build out our company infrastructure to increase manufacturing capacity. We have a strong team and wonderful employees.”

A year ago, OMW purchased a building at 354 Bel Marin Keys and set it up for optimum production. And the company just bought a five-axis CNC machining cell.

EQUATOR COFFEES & TEAS

Rafael-based Equator Coffees & Teas, whose founders Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell were named U.S. Small Businesspersons of the Year recently, made the list for a fourth time.

Revenue last year was $11.8 million.