Full-time employees: 27
Inquest Marketing was doing its thing as a marketing company/advertising agency for nearly a quarter-century before it broke into the CR 100 last year at No. 43. As a follow-up act, owners Brian Olson and Dave Wilson have surged into the Top 10 this year, with revenues that quadrupled from 2008. How did they do it? By bringing on new clients, for one. But they also rolled out expanded services in interactive media to strengthen the relationships with their existing client base. That, and the agency’s 2011 acquisition of Advantage Marketing, a New Jersey company, propelled Inquest forward. From its traditional roots, Inquest Marketing has evolved by seizing opportunities created through advances in digital technologies, serving both business-to-business clients as well as business-to-consumer needs of organizations like Commerce Bank, Hertz Equipment Rental, Belfonte dairy products and Starlight Theatre. In addition to traditional market services, Inquest Marketing provides strategic planning, analytics and interactive services.
Full-time employees: 8
It’s funny how “overnight” success tends to follow business leaders who’ve been building a company from the ground up for a decade. Witness Component Wave, an Overland Park company that helps business clients align their information technology assets with their business strategies. The company broke into CR 100 a year ago, at a solid No. 16 and four-year growth of 144 percent. But that was just a warm-up act for CEO Greg Lettow and President Jim Odrowski, who have more than doubled that growth rate this year to claim a spot in the Top 10. They have been able to capitalize on the need for public-sector organizations to improve—in some cases, begin—their on-line services, and success in delivering mobile payment systems has helped fuel that growth, as well. A high percentage of business IT costs are wasted on low-value systems and high levels of duplication, Odrowski says; helping those organizations do more with less through enterprise architecture has underpinned growth for Component Wave.
Full-time employees: 77
Whatever Greg Gragg has going for his digital marketing agency, he should be bottling and selling: The company is back for a remarkable 12th year out of 15 since Gragg Advertising’s first year of eligibility for CR 100, back in 1997. But it’s not just that his Kansas City agency is in the mix for this recognition; the truly impressive feat is that the 2011 numbers have produced a fourth straight Top 10 finish. So what, exactly, is cooking in those River Market offices Downtown? “Innovation and product development to meet industry needs,” says partner Erica Brune. Those new products and services have helped provide effective direct-marketing strategies for Gragg Advertising’s customers, many of whom are in the higher-education sector. And those techniques—whether they involve compliance monitoring, improved sales efficiency, creative services or other areas of Gragg’s expertise—generate measurable ROI for every client’s marketing dollars. The company, founded in Greg Gragg’s home 20 years ago, has been on a hiring binge over the past year, and now has 77 people on the payroll.