The fastest-growing women-led company in the country is not a hot tech startup or a Silicon Valley darling, according to the Women Presidents Organization, an association of women who own or lead successful companies. Instead, it’s BrightStar Care, a home healthcare and medical staffing company. That’s the company that tops the WPO’s fifth annual ranking of the 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/led companies in North America, produced in partnership with American Express Open.
It’s a good thing Sun’s company has been so successful. “After four months as an entrepreneur,” she says, “I became completely unemployable. It was great to know I was making a difference. [As an entrepreneur], I know what I can get done in two hours if I want to sacrifice another two hours. I can see the correlation. I didn’t see that in corporate life.”
BrightStar’s revenues grew to $156,812,000 in 2011, up from $11,994,526 in 2007. Second on the list is Cenergy International Services, which was 25th on the list last year. Cenergy grew to $165,000,000 in 2011 from $16,300,000 in 2007.
To be eligible for WPO’s ranking of high-growth businesses, companies must have had a at least $500,000 in revenues by January 2007, and at least $2 million in 2011. That may shut out some hot startups that may grow quickly from a very small base. But it highlights a variety of companies that are continuing to show high growth, and to create jobs, even after 10 or more years in business.
Together, the 50 companies on the list generated $4 billion in revenues in 2011 and employ 26,833 people. Some 90% of the CEOs on the list are also company founders.
Sun founded the company ten years ago, after she and her husband were unable to find suitable care for her husband’s grandfather after he became ill. The company expanded into pediatric and infant care after Sun’s own twins were born prematurely, requiring nursing care even after they came home.
Sun has not taken on debt to grow her company, nor does she have an equity partner. “We didn’t want to take the chance that we would potentially select the wrong private equity or venture capitalist,” says Sun. “Some of them really make you reduce the infrastructure and cut overhead. If I’m taking care of somebody’s mom, somebody’s child, I don’t want to cut corners.”
Sun, who has been part of three management teams that have gone public, plans to take BrightStar public in 2015.