Local 3PL Among Fastest Growing

December 13, 2004
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JENISON — What started five years ago as the vision of three co-workers has grown into one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.

Logistics firm Concentrek Inc. was recently named to Inc. magazine's 23rd annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the nation.

Concentrek ranked 112th on the Inc. 500 list with an average annual sales growth of 265.4 percent over four years and total growth of 1,062 percent, during a period in which the U.S. economy was soft.

"It's a great accomplishment for Concentrek," said John Patterson, the firm's president and CEO.

"The last few years have been challenging for any business — especially a start-up — and this ranking is a testament to the hard work, determination and creativity of our people."

Patterson co-founded the company in 1999 with Michael McClelland, vice president of operations, and Greg Morello, vice president of business development.

The three logistics industry veterans previously worked together at Schneider Logistics Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., a large third-party logistics provider.

The three started their company as KNGT Logistics with members of the family that own Knight Transportation, a large truckload carrier in Arizona. Patterson knew its CEO, Kevin Knight, through business connections.

The Knight family provided most of the capital to start the new business.

The company changed its name to Concentrek in January 2001.

Concentrek is a non-asset-based third-party logistics provider and consultant that uses the Internet to serve small and mid-sized shippers of $5 million to $50 million.

The company offers clients a myriad of logistic services, including supply chain analysis and design, outsourced transportation management, and technology that optimizes shipment routes and schedules.

The company employs 65 people at its Grand Rapids headquarters and at customer sites in the United States and Canada.

On its fifth anniversary last April, Concentrek surpassed $100 million in freight under management and, according to Morello, is now approaching $150 million.

The key to the success of the business — particularly during difficult economic times — was not becoming too wrapped up in the technology, Morello said.

The company's founders knew that good technology needed coupling with a strong staff and business processes in order to work as promised and create the benefits that attract customers, he said.

"We didn't buy into the hype about the Internet and technology," Morello said.

"We kept pretty focused on what was going to add some value to our customers. We had to show bottom-line value for the customer."

While the business climate during the last few years did have its challenges, Morello said it brought opportunity as well.

Companies looking to save shipping costs during tight economic periods are more apt to consider a new provider such as Concentrek, he said.

The Inc. magazine listing is the latest accolade for Concentrek.

In August, Concentrek was named a "Top 100 3PL" for the fourth consecutive year by the trade publication Inbound Logistics.

To qualify for the annual Inc. 500 list for 2004, independent and privately held companies must have had at least $200,000 in net sales in 1999 and $2 million in net sales in 2003, which had to have exceeded 2002 sales.

Companies are ranked on year-to-year sales growth, which is verified by Inc. magazine through tax forms, audited financial statements and interviews with executives.

Inc.'s editorial staff cited the resiliency of companies that were started in 1999, pointing out that their growth came during "one of the toughest periods for young companies in recent memory." 

"When people were practically giving away funding in the late 1990s, these companies didn't overextend, and when everyone hit the panic button a few years later, they stayed calm and seized opportunity," Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Koten said.    

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