Honorable Mention: Peter Provenzano
Few industries are more mundane than logistics, yet few companies face as many dangerous encounters as SupplyCore, the logistics company that Peter Provenzano runs. That's because his company delivers goods to American soldiers -- even in Iraq. Among the items he has transported to troops in Iraq since beginning shipments in December 2003: power tools, Porta-Johns, air conditioners, and even golf carts. All told, SupplyCore has delivered more than 5,000 items to the war zone, ordered from an online catalog of more than 350,000 items. Those sales have capped off an impressive growth spurt. The company's sales have quadrupled in the past five years, and now top $140 million.
SupplyCore, which is based in Rockford, Ill., has long been a prime vendor supply contractor for the Department of Defense, but it really ramped up when Peter took over (from his parents, the founders) in 1998. He was 26 at the time. His promotion at the company coincided with the military's decision to put its antiquated, paper-clogged procurement system online, a development that he quickly exploited by taking SupplyCore online. Today, deliveries that used to take months can be processed in seconds and fulfilled in days -- something that was unheard of in military procurement only a few years ago.
And then came the Iraq war. Establishing a supply chain from scratch in an area twice the size of Idaho is, of course, no simple task. Early on, the home office had to wait for days at a stretch before they knew for sure that field employees (most of whom are Iraqi citizens) had delivered their cargo safely. There have been incidents including torched trucks and worse: "Four of my drivers have been kidnapped and one has been shot," the CEO says. (The wounded driver was okay, and the abductees were later released.)
Looking forward, Peter aspires for revenue to top $1 billion by 2010. It's an ambitious goal but, given how active and widely stationed the U.S. military is, the demand just might be there.