By MAGGIE KIELY
Seven years ago, BMI Defense Systems was founded in College Station by an Aggie couple who wanted to do what they could to protect U.S. forces.
Kyle Greenwood, founder and executive vice president of the company, said he originally considered making it a non-profit business but realized that wasn't feasible if he wanted to meet the high demand of the market.
On Friday, Greenwood and his wife, Beverly, came in at No. 2 at the 7th annual Aggie 100 -- a program created to recognize the world's fastest-growing Aggie-owned or operated companies. The rankings are compiled by the Mays Business School's Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M.
Tranzon Auction Resolutions -- a real estate auction company based in Cypress -- came in on top of the list with a compound annual growth of 276 percent.
BMI, which has 108 employees who design and produce safety equipment for military vehicles such as seat restraints, blunt force trauma protection and vehicle armor, grew at a rate of 207 percent.
College Station company Republic Landscapes came in third with a growth of 141 percent.
Since the Aggie 100 was created in 2004, 399 companies have participated.
This year, there were 42 new companies nominated.
Companies were ranked based on a three-year cumulative average growth rate.
To qualify, the businesses had to be at least five years old and have generated at least $100,000 in revenue during 2008.
In addition, an Aggie had to own at least 50 percent of the company, serve as chief executive or be a founder and active member from January 2008 to December 2010.
Greenwood, Class of '92, said he considers the success of BMI a "nice by-product" of a business he and his wife, Class of '98, started "out of our desire to protect soldiers and to do what we could to help fight the global war on terror."
"I created a seat and restraint harness for a buddy of mine that was going to Iraq and it has just grown from there," he said, declining to discuss specifics behind the origins of BMI. "We were extremely shocked and honored to be in the Aggie 100."
As president and vice president of the company and the parents of three kids under eight, the Greenwoods have to strike a balance between business and family.
Greenwood said he and his wife have different strengths and fill in each other's weaknesses.
"I'm more involved with the actual design and the production of new products and the ideas, Beverly runs all the administration stuff and interfaces with all the accounting folks," he said. "I create the products and she has the means to move them."
In this year's Aggie 100:
* 12 Bryan or College Station businesses were named
* The oldest company on the list was created in 1955
* The youngest company was founded in 2006.
* Class of '97 had the most graduates make the Aggie 100
* Owners or operators were recognized from eight states and four countries -- U.S., Mexico, Australia and United Kingdom