Entrepreneurs from Thailand, Texas, and many places in between, representing an array of industries from construction to computer technology, gathered in the Zone Club at Kyle Field on the Texas A&M University campus to celebrate the things they had in common: 1) They were all Aggies. 2) They were all extremely successful business people.
The Aggie 100 recognizes the 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or —operated businesses in the world, as gauged by the company’s compound annual growth rate over a two-year period. The 5th annual Aggie 100 list was announced on Friday, November 6, at a lunch hosted by the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship (CNVE) at Mays Business School. Claiming the top spot for 2009 was J.C. Schoel ’00, founder and vice president of sales and business development at Andersen Schoel, a contract office furniture business established in Harker Heights, Texas in 2002. Andersen Schoel experienced a whopping 287.54 percent growth rate for the 2006-2008 period.
Of the top 10 companies on the list, four were led by Mays graduates: Kelly Jones ’83, CEO, owner, and founder of Digital Discovery Corps; Ryan Reichardt ’04, president, owner, and founder of Reichardt Construction; Frank Tanner ’87 and Jeff Mackey ’87, founders and owners of Mackey & Tanner; and Clay Schlinke ’94, owner of Tesoro Homes & Development.
Richard Lester, director of the CNVE and master of ceremonies for the event described the Aggie 100 companies as the “backbone of the American economy,” and commended them for their outstanding progress in the face of less than ideal economic conditions.
The Aggie 100 companies account for 10,000 employees and $7.6 billion in annual revenues.
Though half of the honorees on the Aggie 100 list were repeats from a previous yearâ€”including MacResource and New Tech Engineering, which have been on the list all five yearsâ€”the top dog, Andersen Schoel, was a first-timer.
Schoel says his original idea was to start a business with his father once he completed his military service. They planned to sell furniture in the education market as an add-on to the teacher-resource stores that his mother owned. However, their market research revealed another opportunity: selling to the military. In less than a decade, their business has grown exponentially, servicing corporate clients as well as government agencies. They now also provide design, installation, and office relocation services.
Schoel, who graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from A&M in industrial distribution, says being named to the Aggie 100 won’t be a one-time deal: he intends to make the list again next year. He’s planning expansion, adding a second location, even amidst a down economy.
Schoel had advice for the audience regarding the recession: Imagine a river. When the river is high, you can’t see the rocks. “When the river is down, that’s the time to get the rocks out of the way,” he said, so that when the river rises, you can have a smoother ride than before.
Accounting firm PKF Texas crunched the numbers for the Aggie 100, ranking each of the businesses. Interesting statistics that arose are:
- The number 100 company had a compound annual growth rate of 19.48 percent. The number one company’s was 287.54.
- Nine of the companies ranked were owned or operated by someone named Michael or Mike.
- Three father-son teams made the list, including the top company.
- The Aggie 100 companies account for 10,000 employees and $7.6 billion in annual revenues.
- Class years of recipients ranged from 1959 to 2005. Class of 1990 was the most represented year on the list.
- The businesses represented a wide variety of industries, including dentistry, veterinary, construction, truck freight matching, and an online virtual zoo.
- Companies were located in seven states and seven countries.
- Half of the honorees are graduates of the A&M Look College of Engineering.
Owner of several industrial services businesses, Phil Miner ’80 didn’t make the top ten, but his achievement is worth noting: at least one of his businesses has made the list each year, setting the record with a total of 10 Aggie 100 recognitions. In 2009, his companies made the list three times.
The purpose of the Aggie 100 is twofold: to celebrate the achievements of successful alumni, and to bring those entrepreneurs into the classroom as guest lecturers so that current students can learn from them. Thirty-five of the 100 honorees spoke to classes across campus. Honorees also purchased tickets for 100 students to attend the lunch ceremony, enabling them to be inspired by successful former students and to build their professional network. “That’s part of the real power of this event,” said Lester.
Nominations for the 2010 Aggie 100 will begin January 15. Applications will be accepted May 1 through June 30. Email Lenae Huebner, assistant director of CNVE, if you have questions.
About The Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship
The Texas A&M Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship provides encouragement, education, networking and assistance to entrepreneurially minded students, faculty and Texas businesses. Founded in 1999, the center is part of Mays Business School’s Department of Management. The center enhances student education through campus speakers, competitions, work experiences and financial support. The Texas A&M faculty and Office of Technology Commercialization benefit from the center’s educational programs, extensive business community network and the entrepreneurial services. The center also reaches out to the state’s business community offering educational programs, business assistance and access to university resources. The center is supported by corporate and individual members and sponsors who believe in the value of an entrepreneurial education program and the value of Texas businesses working with Texas A&M University.