Private lessons: IPOs create a buzz, but answering to shareholders is not for everybody.

Author:Sukin, Gigi
Position:TOP 250 PRIVATE COMPANIES
 
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THROUGHOUT COUNTLESS business community conversations, you'll hear the same call to action:

"We need a big success: we need an IPO," said Pete Khanna, CEO of TrackVia last year on a Rocky Mountain Tech Meetup panel.

Often initial public offerings are interpreted as symptoms of big things brewing and validation that the rest of the world is watching. Bold, buzz-worthy IPOs secure a spotlight and generous payday for the companies as well as the communities they're stationed in. But it goes beyond that moment in time. It's worth noting that public ownership comes at a cost, and the sparkle of the IPO can fade. Public companies spend great deals of time balancing the needs of long-term shareholders alongside the impulses of fast-money traders, and short sellers on the opposite end of the bet, eager to see the stock drop.

Last year, Forbes published an article titled: "70 Billion Reasons For a Public Company to Go Private," as the formerly popular smartphone brand, BlackBerry, opted to return to its private roots in a last-ditch effort for survival. The piece warned: "If the public makes you rich beyond your wildest dreams when it buys your stock in an IPO, you then have to make sure the public gets a good return for gambling its retirement money on the fortunes of your shares."

Interestingly, the value of "take private" deals skyrocketed from $14 billion in 2012 to roughly $80 billion by August 2013, according to data provider Dealogic.

Some of most recognizable businesses operate outside public markets and are able to thrive all the same.

"I think the local market is very responsive," Khanna recently shared when asked how Colorado's economy supports private versus public organizations. "The whole ecosystem understands that if you don't support smaller, newer startup companies, you'll never be able to create successful private companies and eventually even public companies. And I think the influx of capital and talent are sure signs that we have a vibrant and well-supported ecosystem of fast-growing private technology companies such as TrackVia (No. 204) or ReadyTalk or SendGrid (No. 75)."

This year, as evidenced by ColoradoBiz magazine's Top 250 Private Companies list, leading private companies have experienced impressive growth thanks to a range of factors: innovation, emerging markets, focused leadership and good old-fashioned hard work.

Take a look.

13 GROSS 2014 2013 REVENUES RANK RANK COMPANY (000'S) 1 1 DCP Midstream LLC $12,038,000 2 3 PCL Construction Enterprises Inc. 7,350,889 3 4 Hensel Phelps 2,240,000 4 6 Zayo Group 1,049,200 5 Otter Products LLC 926,600 6 Accuvant Inc. 577,000 7 7 Sage Hospitality 478,000 8 Mortenson 460,520 9 13 Mike Shaw Automotive 413,825 10 10 American Furniture Warehouse Co. 413,000 11 11 Ralph Schomp Automotive 382,014 12 12 Graebel Companies Inc. 363,131 13 9 SquareTwo Financial 338,253 14 14 Catamount Constructors Inc. 319,682 15 Agfinity Inc. 286,643 16 ISEC Inc. 253,483 17 Haselden Construction LLC 244,201 18 17 W.J. Bradley Mortgage Capital LLC 240,336 19 GH Phipps Construction Companies 237,723 20 Global Technology Resources Inc. 234,117 21 15 FCI Constructors Inc. 231,631 22 Holland & Hart LLP 227,453 23 19 New Belguim Brewing Co. 190,000 24 Jupiter I LLC 174,000 25 Shaw Construction LLC 169,000 26 21 Brownstein Hyatt 149,655 Farber Schreck LLP 27 The Cigarette Store Corp. 146,000 28 TUFF SHED Inc. 142,400 29 Oakwood Homes 140,239 30 23 The Cain Travel Group Inc. 122,000 31 Alpine Bank 114,532 32 24 IMA Financial Group Inc. 113,903 33 Smashburger 108,965 34 27 Hercules Industries 92,894 35 Encore Electric Inc. 92,300 36 25 National Corporate Housing 92,121 37 JAB Wireless Inc. 90,300 38 Synergy Service Inc. 87,583 39 28 Publication Printers Corp. 82,993 40 E Light Electric Services Inc. 77,755 41 29 Vladimir Jones 74,805 42 30 Alliant National Title 71,870 Insurance Co. 43 33 Johnson Storage & Moving Co. LLC 70,000 44 32 Roche Constructors Inc. 66,550 45 34 Wanco Inc. 60,222 46 GeoStabilization 57,000 International LLC 47 35 Douglas Colony Group Inc. 55,600 48 Eating Recovery Center 52,559 49 36 New West Physicians 51,499 50 Hein & Associates 50,706 51 LI NX LLP 50,500 52 Swiftpage 50,213 53 7 Karsh Hagan 50,000 53 Wolf Robotics 50,000 53 Outlast Technologies LLC 50,000 56 Reed Group 48,100 57 178 Cardinal Group Management 46,638 58 Calcon Constructors Inc. 46,400 59 Inspirato LLC 45,832 60 BluSky Restoration 44,908 Contractors Inc. 61 Boulder Creek Neighborhoods 44,718 62 38 First Western Financial Inc. $43,900 63 40 Stellar Solutions Inc. 38,493 64 R.A. Nelson LLC 36,895 65 44 Workplace Resource 36,746 66 i2 Construction LLP 36,000 67 Romantix Inc. 35,300 68 57 Oskar Blues Brewery LLC 35,285 69 42 Source Office & Technology 35,000 70 Flammond's Candies LLC 33,945 71 59 Location 3 Media 33,500 72 48 Portable Computer Systems 32,600 Inc. (dba PCS Mobile) 73 SparkFun Electronics 30,000 74 Frontiere Natural Meats 29,000 75 74 SendGrid...

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