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Planting their flagsCentral Pennsylvania's top private companies scale Mount Growth, but the peak also rises

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One step forward, two steps back — maybe five — is the story of this year's Top 100 trek.

Many of the midstate’s largest private companies experienced revenue growth — some were significant climbers — and yet they came in lower on this year’s list.

Hampden Township-based Morefield Communications Inc. grew by 26 percent to $24 million in revenue, but still it dropped to No. 102 from No. 101 last year.

How we do it

We spend all year working on this one edition.

Alaine Keisling, our researcher, emails, calls, woos, cajoles and courts hundreds of privately owned companies in the midstate, trying to get them to give us detailed data that they are under no requirement to release: What was your revenue for each of the last two years? Who’s your top local executive? How many full-time and part-time employees do you have?

And we in the newsroom look for themes — similarities among a diverse array of powerhouse companies. We quiz their leaders, ask them how the market is in their industries and in their counties. We want to know about their strategic plans and how well they’ve been able to follow those plans — or how they’ve had to deviate from them to stay successful.

After all of that work and analysis, we present to you our Top 100 companies in the midstate. But this year, that’s not all. Online, we’re also presenting the Top 250 companies to help you understand the depth and breadth of the businesses that call the midstate home. We hope you find both to be resources that provide you with leads and help you better run your companies in the coming year.

There were 114 companies with at least $20 million in revenue this year, with Swatara Township-based Herbert Rowland & Grubic Inc. grabbing the final spot at more than $25 million.

Last year, the end of the Top 100 trail ended at $19.5 million with Derry Township-based ARM Group Inc.

ARM was No. 117 on this year’s list.

Five years ago, the pace to crack the list was $16.7 million. That list was based on 2009 revenue, a dismal year full of negative numbers from the recession.

Big climbers

This year, 18 companies in the Top 100 grew revenue by at least 20 percent from 2013. Another 19 slid down the mountain slightly.

There are 29 companies that soared above $100 million in revenue, up from 24 last year. Nine of the top 10 companies were there last year, with Hanover-based Tim-Bar Corp. moving up to No. 10 from No. 11 last year.

East Pennsboro Township-based Gannett Fleming Inc. was flat and fell to No. 11.

Two of the top 10 companies — Manchester Township-based Rutter’s Holdings Inc. and York Township-based Kinsley Construction Inc. — reported slight revenue declines. Both have been Class 5 climbers for many years.

In fact, the top 25 on this year’s manifest are largely intact from last year.

Hanging tough on top

Harrisburg-based D&H Distributing Co. Inc., the only billion-dollar company on the list, is still looking for new peaks to scale at nearly $3.4 billion in revenue.

Lower Allen Township-based Vibra Healthcare LLC, once again No. 2 on the list, is quickly gaining ground with 25 percent growth last year. Vibra finished at $994 million last year but is on pace to be well over $1 billion this year.

D&H and Vibra are distancing themselves from the pack on their cross-country hike across the midstate.

Midstate peaks and valleys

A large acquisition in 2014 propelled Harrisburg-based H.B. McClure Co. to 74 percent growth and the No. 41 spot this year. That was the biggest percentage leap in the top 100.

Manchester Township-based Gettle Inc. rose to No. 64 from No. 88 a year ago, the biggest climb on the list.

JFC Staffing Cos., based in Camp Hill, fell 22 spots to No. 92, the biggest fall in the top 100. JFC also was down 20 percent in revenue, the largest percentage drop in the top 100.

Chambersburg-based Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc., which was No. 76 last year, saw revenue trail off 23 percent and it fell just off the list.

Looking up

Others looking up from the base of the mountain and outside of the Top 100 are West Hempfield Township-based D.H. Funk & Sons LLC, which was No. 99 last year, and Abel Construction Co. Inc., also from West Hempfield Township. Abel was No. 97 last year.

Lancaster-based Wickersham Construction and Engineering Inc. finished at No. 101 after being No. 93 last year.

Harrisburg-based JEM Group LLC doubled its revenue last year and could be poised to soar into the Top 100 next year. JEM finished at No. 121.

Many of this year’s adventurers are still adding tools to their backpack, which should take them to new heights by the end of 2015 and into the next leg of their journey. Happy hiking.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

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

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