A Quick Study: The 2015 Fast Growth 150

Starting about 10 years ago Dedicated Computing, a Waukesha, Wis.-based solution provider founded in 1978, began shifting strategic gears and concentrated on developing high-performance systems for specific vertical industries including health care, life sciences, energy exploration and financial services.

"I'm a big believer in focus," said President and CEO Don Schlidt in an interview. "We can't be all things to all people."

That focus is paying off: The company has recorded a two-year growth rate of more than 280 percent, earning the company the No. 4 spot in this year's Fast Growth 150 list, CRN's annual ranking of the fastest-growing solution providers in the IT industry.

[Related: Fast Growth 2015: The Top 25]

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The 150 solution providers on this year's Fast Growth list had average annual revenue of just less than $206.4 million (based on 2014 revenue) and recorded an average two-year growth rate of 99.29 percent—down a few points from 102.6 percent last year, but up from 88.95 percent in 2013.

Collectively, the companies on this year's list racked up sales just shy of $30.1 billion. Fifty-nine of this year's Fast Growth 150 companies are new to the list.

Solution providers across North America are now fully focused on growth, not just getting by.

Take n2grate, a Greenbelt, Md.-based data center and cloud service provider, which topped this year's list with a two-year growth rate of 1,943.27 percent. About 90 percent of the company's business is from the federal government, where n2grate's founder sensed that government agencies needed help in assessing, planning and building complex data center and cloud computing systems.

"The services are really the lead," said President and COO Steve Halligan in an interview. The key to that is expertise -- and that means people. "The key attribute of our growth has been assembling a team of engineers and business development professionals with the right backgrounds."

Vantage Point Corp. was No. 2 this year with 1,036.92 percent two-year growth. The Kenosha, Wis.-based solution provider offers a broad range of data center services including system design, hardware procurement, solution implementation, and hosted and managed services.

"We believe in thinking differently. We don't believe in mediocrity," said VPC Co-CEO Nick Preuss in an email exchange with CRN.

One example of its innovation is the company's proprietary channel management application it uses internally to improve inventory and order management, providing customers with better procurement procedures, quoting accuracy and technical support.

For its part, Dedicated Computing surrounds the high-performance, computationally intensive systems it builds with cloud, engineering, professional, and monitoring and management services. A good example is the company's advanced training and visualization systems for civil and military aviation, health care and even mining. Those products are more than just sophisticated technology. They require knowledge of speci­fic industries and their application needs. And Schlidt said that means having close relationships with customers.

Three Wire Systems is No. 10 with a two-year growth rate of 197.49 percent. The Falls Church, Va.-based company provides a range of IT services to federal government agencies, all with a central theme: eliminating wasteful spending through the implementation of disruptive technologies. In recent years the solution provider has been building teams focused on specifi­c government agencies and hiring managers and employees with domain expertise.

President Gregory Feldman admits that with last year's growth Three Wire Systems "bit off a bit more than we could chew." The company hired a new CTO to deepen its technical leadership and a senior Department of Defense programs leader to manage the delivery of the solution provider's programs. The company is also putting more emphasis on establishing larger, longer-term contracts with government customers.

"It's all in the people and the expertise," Feldman said. And while he welcomes the growth, he's not focused on growth for growth's sake. "It's more important to me to focus on what problems we're solving for our government customers and how we're viewed as a trusted adviser."

The top 25 Fast Growth 150 solution providers appear below. For information on purchasing the full list, contact Laurie Condon on the East Coast ([email protected]) or Nora Uriarte on the West Coast ([email protected]).