By VIMAL PATEL
Brandon Spears didn't think there was a future in mowing lawns, which he did throughout college, but the Aggie now owns a landscaping business that has more than doubled its sales each of the last three years.
College Station-based Republic Landscapes took the No. 2 spot Friday at the sixth annual Aggie 100 luncheon, which recognizes the fastest growing businesses owned, operated or founded by former A&M students.
"You don't have to do some grand thing to be successful," said Spears, 38. "It doesn't matter if you're washing cars or working in a restaurant, there will be opportunities. You just have to be flexible and keep your eyes open."
In all, seven College Station businesses, three from Bryan and one from Snook made the list. One other local company made the top 10: College Station-based Brazos Technology at No. 3. It was No. 5 last year and No. 12 the year before that.
The company offers software applications to law enforcement agencies and first responders, including the Bryan Police Department starting in November. It is owned by Mike McAleer, who graduated from A&M in 1992.
"At the end of the day, we have great people selling a great product, and you can't miss with that," said Ray Evans, who does development for the company.
The businesses are nominated or self-nominated and are ranked on a two-year cumulative average growth rate. They must have been in business for at least five years and have $100,000 of annual revenue.
The event was a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit, officials said. It kicked off with a short video about a pair of Aggies who made an iPhone stand and asked for help marketing it, collecting $111,000.
Spears said this was the first time his company applied for the award. He sold cars in Dallas following graduation in 1994, and then worked for computer company Dell in Austin before buying a friend's lawnmowing business.
He sold that and started Republic Landscapes in 2004. The company is doing landscaping work on the Health Science Center's Bryan campus and has worked with Texas A&M several times, including on the Mitchell Physics Building.
"A big part of our success was we were pretty aggressive going after big projects," said Spears, who was an agricultural economics major.
The No. 1-ranked company was Calgary, Alberta-based Caltex Energy Inc. with a 224 percent growth rate. The lowest rank was Houston-based Meridian Constructors LLC with a 9 percent growth rate.
The event was put on by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship, which is within the Mays Business School.
"This group here today contributes immensely to the brand that is Texas A&M," said A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, addressing the nearly 600 people gathered at The Zone Club at Kyle Field. "You have made this place what it is."
Click here for the complete list of winners.