How does a company sustain triple-digit growth for more than three years?
The reason will sound a lot like the catchphrase of a small-business growth seminar: Have a vested interest in client success.
Two Augusta companies are making themselves perennials on Inc. Magazine’s listing of the fastest-growing companies in the country. EDTS, an information technology firm, has been on the Inc. 5000 for four years; it is at 2,949. MAU Workforce Solutions, a staffing firm, has made the list for three consecutive years; it is at 1,431.
The magazine measures revenue growth from 2009 through 2012 and ranks the firms on growth percentage. The leaders of both companies feel confident they’ll have a place on the 2014 Inc. 5000, too.
Randy Hatcher, the president of MAU on Greene Street, leads a company that has added 3,500 employees during the past three years. The staffing firm with relationships with BMW and E-Z-Go jumped nearly 1,100 spots from its 2012 rank to 1,431 in 2013.
Hatcher said the company made a decision 10 years ago to focus on manufacturing, about 95 percent of its client base, which allowed for a deepening of relationships in the industry.
“We continue to be known as a volume producer,” Hatcher said. “There are manufacturing companies that when they need workers, they need a lot of workers. Those manufacturers, they talk to one another. You’re looking for a good supplier that can manage and lot of people and ramp up ... That’s the reason we get called more and more.”
MAU was started in 1973 by Hatcher’s father, Bill, and was known as Mr./Ms. Temps until 1999. It became MAU Workforce Solutions Inc., which stands for Management, Analysis and Utilization. The firm provides office, industrial and professional workers, mainly throughout the Southeast.
Multistate networking security and IT firm EDTS, headquartered on Broad Street, now has 51 employees, said CEO Charles Johnson, and is contemplating acquisitions and new business lines.
“Its understanding the market and knowing what real businesses need,” Johnson said. “Right now, security is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. We’ve been working on a new initiative for a year and a half. We’re going to launch next month.”
Johnson said the new business security offering will be aimed at banks and health care companies.
“We were early adopters of managed services. ... Now that every company says they do managed services, we have to separate ourselves from the pack,” Johnson said.
BOTH HATCHER AND Johnson said the success comes with the people working for them.
“It starts with a good technology base,” Johnson said. “We pride ourselves on the technology that we represent and sell and support. And with that, we hire good people that are passionate about it.”
Said Hatcher: “We are in the people business. If we can be good at hiring people, we ought to be good at growing the business.”
Hatcher said the personnel at MAU have been good at managing the growth.
“Every time we hire somebody, we feel that we’ve hired somebody better.” he said.
Hatcher said some key hires from five years ago are proving to be valuable in the current growth. Most of its companies are international firms and have been asked whether MAU can help with their own expansions in other areas of the world.
“So you’re helping us here in Greenville and helping us in our other plant in Alabama, so we’re growing with them organically, which has helped us,” Hatcher said. “So what about Europe and what about China, South America? We have these strategic partnerships.”
Managing triple-digit growth can sometimes be a scary proposition, but Hatcher and Johnson are comfortable with the pace of their companies.
“The Inc. 5000 was harder to get into this year than ever in its history,” said Eric Schurenberg, the editor in chief of Inc. Magazine. “The median company on the list increased sales more than 140 percent since the start of 2010, while the average honoree grew a mind-boggling 468 percent.”
Johnson said he could have sought some venture capital funds and tripled the size of EDTS, but he didn’t want heated growth to affect the quality of the work.
Johnson’s firm started in 1999 and was once known as Elliott Davis Technology Solutions, formerly a part of the CPA firm Elliott Davis. It merged with Augusta Information Technologies in 2011 and opened a third office – in Columbia – this year.
Clients include Marriott and DoubleTree hoteliers, Southern Felt, Carry-On Trailers, Keystone Builders and the Hull Barrett law firm.
“Fastest growth is great, but in our business, what matters is our skill set and what we do,” Johnson said. “Sustaining growth, that’s what pays the bills and allows us to move into different markets and hire more people locally. Honing our craft is also important for me.”
The highest-ranking Georgia company is Innovolt in Atlanta, an asset management firm, at 32. In South Carolina, Charleston-based software developer Sparc is at 14.