The owners of the fastest-growing businesses in Aggieland were recognized for their financial accomplishments Friday afternoon at the 10th annual Aggie 100 event hosted by Texas A&M's Mays Business School for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.
The Aggie 100 has recognized 1,000 business leaders who are Aggies across the United States since the award's inception in 2005. Out of the more than 200 firms that applied this year, 11 Bryan-College Station businesses made their way onto the prestigious list. The business owners gave credit to Aggie values and former students for helping establish a foundation to build their business upon.
James Benham, president of Downtown Bryan's JBKnowledge Technologies Inc, a College Station city councilman and former cadet said Aggies continue to help his business, which experienced a 30.9 percent growth rate to land him the No. 99 spot on this year's list.
"My first eight clients were all Aggie ex-cadets," he said. "We would not be in business had it not been for the Aggie Network. Without Aggie connections we simply wouldn't be here."
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The 100 businesses that received this year's honor are responsible for providing jobs to more than 8,300 people, including more than 700 Aggies. With 39 new honorees in this year's class, competition to crack next year's list will be more intense. Only seven companies have appeared on the list more than four times.
"It's going to continue to be a bigger challenge," said Benham, a repeat winner. "We have to post such huge gains on the company now that it would literally require us 200 employees just to get on another time."
To qualify for the distinction, companies must be in business for five years or more as of June 30, 2014, have verifiable revenues of $250,000 or more for the 2011 calendar year, be a former Texas A&M student with at least 50 percent ownership of their company from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2013.
Kevin Doffing, CEO of Sam's Safety Equipment in Houston, said the 34.2 percent growth he experienced that put him on the list for the first time at No. 85 is a capstone for the work that went into successfully reviving his family business. He credited the lessons he learned as an A&M Fish Camp counselor and in the Army.
"It felt like validation for the last six years of work to take something that almost collapsed, so it's nice to be recognized," he said. "It's indescribable to have this kind of recognition and be on the same page as these guys."
Nutrabolt, formerly Woodbolt, of Bryan, returned to the list at No. 14 with 78.2 percent growth to follow up its No. 6 rank in 2013. Chief Cultural Officer Colton Leonard, class of 2012, accepted the award in place of CEO Doss Cunningham and said A&M is an important part of the company's identity after its founding in 2002.
"We impact people across the United States and we hire people from across the United States, but our headquarters are here," Leonard said. "A&M is part of who we are, so being part of this tradition is exciting for all of us. It's really meaningful for who we are and what we're doing."