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TOP 100 2013: Heroes abound in area companies with short stories

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In the classroom at the Flagger Force Academy in Middletown are Mike Doner, vice president, and Michele Doner, president.
In the classroom at the Flagger Force Academy in Middletown are Mike Doner, vice president, and Michele Doner, president. - (Photo / Stuart Leask)

Swords drawn, these young companies stride gallantly into the thick of battle.

As they hack their way through the thickest competition and slay the dragons in their path, they forge a lasting ethic of bravery in the face of uncertain economies and futures.

And sometimes, they invent whole new businesses.

Here's how these companies, new to the Order of Top 100, see themselves:

Traffic Control Services LLC dba Flagger Force

Mike Doner, vice president
Dauphin County

What is behind your explosion onto the scene over the last several years?

In this industry, historically, people used the newest guy, the slowest guy or the laziest guy to do traffic control. So it was always an entry position into the wider world of construction.

We bring an intelligence, training and focus into temporary traffic control that most other companies can't do. It's not their area of expertise. From a financial standpoint, they can turn us on and turn us off, and they don't have to worry about it. On the days they don't need us, they're not paying anything. And if there's an accident, it goes on our liability, not theirs.

Those are some of the basics behind how we took an old business and saw the opportunity for modernizing it. It's always about the people. We have a career progression that never existed in our industry before.

If your company was a book, what would its title be and why?

"Reinventing the Work Zone: A Safety-Driven Story of Problem Solving." When our customers come to us, we look to solve their problem with a safety-driven idea.

What has been your company's greatest adventure to date?

Trying to stay ahead of the curve and develop a process and procedure where it didn't exist. We have to develop our own software because there isn't software for what we do out there.

We work with PennDOT on best practices in our industry. We worked in Gettysburg for the (150th) celebration to help them. We got a letter from the borough saying they don't know how they would've gotten through that week without us. We had 40 people at Tough Mudder (the obstacle course benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project). The police told them, "You can run your event but, you have to hire Flagger Force to do your traffic control." We'd never done anything like that before.

Our major customers are the major utility companies, and we have to operate 24/7 for them when there are emergencies.

What dragons do you plan to slay next?

Data is the big one. We're not perfect, but we attacked our safety culture first, because it's the life of our employees.

But the data applications for our customers is the next big dragon, and we're nowhere near to slaying it yet. When we get a job, we tell our employees about it and, when they're done, they fill out paper forms detailing the job. This can produce a weeklong backlog in paperwork. But we're working on software that automatically logs our employees when they arrive on scene and allows them to detail the job faster. That way when a client calls us and says, "What was my traffic control costs today?" we won't have to delay that.

I've got one word for that: Wow. The implementation of technology into our business will be the next big dragon.

e&e IT Consulting Services Inc.

Linda K. Etter, co-owner
Cumberland County

What is behind your explosion onto the scene over the last several years?

E&E IT Consulting Services Inc. has exploded onto the scene by reducing and controlling internal costs, allowing us to maintain competitive employee salaries and benefits. We have been able to preserve attractive and competitive client rates. We uphold a strong customer focus and commitment to satisfaction. Much of our new business is acquired through employee referrals, client referrals or repeat customers.

If your company was a book, what would its title be and why?

If e&e was a book, its title would be "The Little Consulting Company That Could."

Once upon a time, Linda and Tracy started e&e, a small consulting company, in the basement of their home. Just Linda, Tracy and a few consultants.

Linda, Tracy and the consultants worked very hard. Word spread, and e&e grew. Linda and Tracy moved to a bigger office space, hired a recruiter, an account manager and a few more consultants. Everyone worked hard, word spread, and e&e grew.

Linda and Tracy hired more recruiters, account managers, and consultants. E&E once again moved to a bigger office space.

The staff continued to work hard, word spread, and e&e grew. Another move to a bigger space! The e&e staff continue to work hard, word continues to spread, and e&e continues to grow.

We hope it never ends.

What has been your company's greatest adventure to date?

E&E's greatest adventures involve growing the company, growing the client base, procuring long-term projects, and partnering with large prime contracting vendors. Moving from office to office has also been an adventure.

What dragons do you plan to slay next?

Our industry has become very competitive. Our biggest "dragons" are large prime contracting vendors with whom we compete for business. While we sometimes partner with these vendors, "slaying" them would open many opportunities for e&e to serve as a prime contracting vendor rather than as a subcontractor.

By focusing on our clients' needs and providing services at fair, reasonable rates, we strive to win additional long-term contracts as a prime vendor.

On the List

See Traffic Control Services LLC at No. 67 on page 21.

See e&e IT Consulting Services Inc. at No. 100 on page 24.

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan

Jim T. Ryan covers Cumberland County, manufacturing, distribution, transportation and logistics. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jimr@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JimTRyanCPBJ.

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