NUMBERS ON A PAGE MAY TELL ONE PART of a successful company's story, but there's nothing like hearing from the people who lead and manage the firm. For the second year in a row, Business North Carolina magazine hosted a round table featuring representatives from North Carolina Mid-Market Fast 40 businesses, which were selected based on impressive revenue growth over the past three years.
They discussed the issues and opportunities common to mid-sized, rapidly growing companies, from regulatory impediments to changes in hiring trends and everything in between. Participating were Mark Duncan, president of Duncan-Parnell, a surveying and construction-services firm in Charlotte; Kevin Burke, vice president of finance for Scent-Air Technologies, a Charlotte-based fragrance marketing company; and Greg Marshall, chief financial officer at Pilot Mountain, N.C.-based Omega Construction. They were joined by Erik Horstmann, a partner at Cherry Bekaert, the accounting firm that compiles the Fast 40 list and sponsored the roundtable, which was hosted by Pinehurst Resort. Ben Kinney, publisher of Business North Carolina magazine, served as moderator. The following transcript has been edited for brevity, clarity and coherence.
In a nutshell, how has business been for this year's Fast 40? What are some key trends?
Horstmann: It's interesting that there's not one formula for success. What you find is different things work for different companies. Some of them are growing through acquisitions. Some of them are growing through innovation. Some of them are just growing through organic business services to their existing client base. So it just varies depending on the business. There's a couple of different things I would say from the trends perspective. Construction is usually a leading indicator for us as to where the economy is moving; when we start to see construction builds and cranes in our cities, it means activity is moving in general. As we talked to bankers, everybody is looking for a "good loan to make," as they call it. So introductions to good companies, the kind of companies that are on this list, are obviously good targets for them. The other thing that you're seeing among these companies is that people help drive the business. So there's been a strong emphasis in each one with retaining top talent, recruiting good people, and finding the right people.
How is the economy impacting your business or industry?
Duncan: We offer technology for the surveying and civil-engineering industries, and that means high-end GPS and mapping equipment. Also, we have a division that specializes in print for the construction...