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Top 100 2012: Back in the pool

Many of top 2008 firms remain in 2012

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The Business Journal looked back at the top private companies from our 2008 edition, left.
The Business Journal looked back at the top private companies from our 2008 edition, left.

Four years ago, the world watched as Michael Phelps claimed a record eight gold medals in swimming at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

As our attention again turned to Phelps — who finished his career with a record 22 medals — and other London standouts, the Business Journal decided to look back at the top private companies on the Top 100 list from 2008.

We found that many of the same companies ranked near the top and once again found a place on this year's list. Some moved up quite a bit — others down or off — while several more held firm.

Six companies from the 2008 list's top 10 made this year's top 10 (see

"Top 10 changes," page 10).

As is the case every year, some companies did not report revenue and were not included for that reason.

Moving up

One of the biggest movers near the top was Lower Allen Township-based Vibra Healthcare LLC, which more than doubled its revenue since the Beijing Olympics.

In 2008, Vibra was No. 17 with $215.42 million in reported 2007 revenue. That was up nearly 45 percent from 2006.

In 2012, Vibra (see "Cumberland County's top private companies," page 45) is No. 7 with $443 million in 2011 revenue. That was up almost 12 percent from 2010.

The operator of specialty hospitals and outpatient physical therapy clinics has primarily grown through acquisitions. The company also is in a pretty recession-proof business, because as people live longer, we need more health care services.

Moving down

The biggest decline near the top was The Wolf Organization Inc., based in York.

In 2008, Wolf was No. 9 with $385 million in 2007 revenue. That was up more than 11 percent from 2006.

In 2012, Wolf is No. 18 with $130 million in 2011 revenue. That is down more than 21 percent from 2010.

To remain competitive in a changing industry, the building material distributor has moved away from the traditional two-step format, where it would buy in bulk from manufacturers that designed and marketed their own products. Then it would break down shipments into smaller loads and sell them to retailers, including independent lumberyards and kitchen design centers.

As part of a significant overhaul that began in 2010, the company now is more focused on developing products to meet the real-time needs of independent dealers and their customers.

"Relevance is our goal," CEO Tom Wolf said in March.

The top 20 four years ago also included:

• No. 14: CBHNP, $235 million.

• No. 18: Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., $212 million.

• No. 20: Pennfield Corp., $175 million.

This year's top 20 also includes:

• No. 14: Farmers Pride Inc. dba Bell & Evans, $207 million.

• No. 16: Sutliff Auto Group, $135.45 million.

• No. 17: Schaedler Yesco Distribution Inc., $134.35 million.

• No. 19: Wagman Cos. Inc., $129.98 million.

• No. 20: Dutch Gold Honey Inc., $120 million.

E&E IT Consulting Services Inc. came in at No. 100 on this year's list with $15.3 million. Four years ago, No. 100 was Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc. with $29.91 million.

Industry comparison

In the 2008 edition of Top 100, construction and contractors led all industries with 32 companies.

That remains the case in 2012: Construction and engineering firms totaled 36 in the Top 100 this year.

Industries*

• Manufacturing: 21 in 2008 vs. 20 in 2012

• Distribution and trucking: 23 in 2008 vs. 15 in 2012

• Professional services: 14 in 2008 vs. 5 in 2012

• Food producers and sellers: 7 in 2008 vs. 6 in 2012

• Automotive and equipment dealers: 10 in 2008 vs. 5 in 2012

• Real estate: 4 in 2008 vs. 5 in 2012

• Retail: 7 in 2008 vs. 4 in 2012

• Publishers and printers: 4 in 2008 vs. 2 in 2012

This year's list also has five energy companies, three banking and financial firms, three technology companies, two hospitality firms and one health care company.

* Totals more than 100 because some diversified companies are counted in multiple industries.

Top 10 changes

1. D&H Distributing Co. Inc.: $2.84 billion in 2011; also No. 1 four years ago with $1.9 billion in revenue for 2007.

2. Shipley Group: $653.22 million in 2011; No. 4 in 2008 with $476 million.

3. Rutter's Holdings Inc.: $640 million in 2011; No. 6 in 2008 with $440 million.

4. The High Cos.: $522.98 million in 2011; No. 2 in 2008 with $601.22 million.

5. Utz Quality Foods Inc.: $490 million in 2011; No. 11 in 2008 with $325 million.

6. Worley & Obetz Inc.: $478.72 million in 2011; No. 10 in 2008 with $377.56 million.

7. Vibra Healthcare LLC: $443 million in 2011; No. 17 in 2008 with $215.42 million.

8. Kinsley Construction Inc.: $416 million in 2011; No. 7 in 2008 with $435.3 million.

9. Gannett Fleming Inc.: $292.4 million in 2011; No. 12 in 2008 with $242.49 million.

10. Sun Motor Cars Inc.: $278.94 million in 2011; did not respond for 2008 list.

The top 10 in 2008 also included Snyder's of Hanover, which was No. 3 with $600 million; Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, which was No. 5 with $450.39 million; Specialty Products & Insulation Co., which was No. 8 with $403.19 million; and The Wolf Organization Inc., which was No. 9 with $385 million.

Snyder's of Hanover merged with North Carolina-based Lance Inc. in 2010 to form Snyder's-Lance Inc. Shares of the firm trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LNCE.

Bobby Rahal did not report revenue. Specialty Products & Insulation Co. is no longer locally privately held.

The Wolf Organization Inc. came in at No. 18 on this year's list with $130 million.

Looking ahead to 2016

Lancaster County marketing firm could be one to crack Top 100

 

Five years ago, Robert Deraco took a leap of faith and put his 10 years of marketing experience to the test.

The now-34-year-old founded and is the CEO of East Hempfield Township-based Synapse Interactive LLC, which does business as Synapse Marketing Solutions, in September 2007.

His goal: To provide clients with a higher level of service.

“When I was employed (by someone else), I couldn’t control all factors and how I wanted clients to be treated,” Deraco said. “The service aspect was so big for me in the beginning.”

With an early focus on direct marketing, the firm finished 2007 with $422,000 in revenue.

By 2008, Synapse boosted sales and finished the year with $2.2 million in revenue.

As the economy worsened and marketing departments for large corporations trimmed budgets and scaled back on staff — many of the people Deraco and his small staff work with — Synapse expanded its core services and added employees.

The company continued to grow revenue and bolster its roster of national accounts, which also made it prime for acquisition, Deraco said.

“I was pursued by a much larger company at the end of 2009,” he said.

Giving up a huge financial gain that might have set him up for life, Deraco grew his interactive division.

“This is my passion. I have specific ideas with how my employees are treated,” he said.

Synapse hit $3.4 million in 2010 and $6.1 million last year, moving it up the professional services list and making it a legitimate contender for Top 100 by the time the 2016 Olympic Games roll around.

Deraco said he is confident his company will be a premier company to work with and for, and he hopes to crack the $15 million to $30 million range for revenue within five years.

He has invested heavily in modifications to the company’s 10,000-square-foot office space to make things efficient.

As the company continues to grow — currently there are 35 employees, including Internet strategists, programmers, specialty and other high-level mobile application developers, email experts and database programmers — Deraco said he anticipates a move.

Planning has begun to move by early 2014, he said. He is hoping to buy or build a facility in the Lancaster area, maybe even in the city because of its vibrant downtown.

“I am not interested in expanding to the point of opening offices outside of here. I am more interested in growing jobs in the local community,” Deraco said.

The firm’s steady growth drew the attention of Inc. magazine last year. Synapse came in at No. 396 on its 30th annual Inc. 500, a ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

“The exposure on the Inc. 500 has definitely put us out there in front of people looking to buy best-in-class companies,” Deraco said, citing at least 20 to 30 offers to sell his company. “I’m not going anywhere. I love this business and love the people that work with me.”

Today the majority of business is in interactive marketing, branding and interactive campaign development. All of the firm’s work is done in-house, and it runs the gamut of industries.

Synapse’s primary competition on the professional services list and in the branding and marketing field is Swatara Township-based JPL Integrated Communication Inc.

JPL, which started in 1989, posted $12.3 million in 2011 revenue. That was up 34 percent from last year and back above where the company was in 2008.

“It’s an industry that is very difficult to stand out in,” Deraco said. “We spend time following what’s going on in the industry to stay ahead of the curve. In the last 12 months, we’ve expanded our reach and work with national and major companies. When you get to that point, the level of competition increases.”

Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jasons@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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