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NM’s high flyers approach $1B mark

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s Flying 40 technology champs soared to new heights this year, collectively generating nearly $1 billion in revenue and providing high-wage jobs for almost 5,000 people.

Their joint achievements demonstrate the ability of homegrown New Mexico companies to build solid, lasting foundations in technology industries, said John Freisinger, former president and CEO of Technology Ventures Corp., which hosts the annual Flying 40 awards, now in its 20th year. The companies on this year’s list have managed to navigate their way out of the last recession and into new, robust growth cycles with innovative products and services that shine in the face of competition and chronic market volatility, Freisinger said.

“Five to seven years ago, most of these companies were facing flat or negative growth from the recession, but now most of them are expanding in the double digits, and some in triple digits,” he said. “Many have appeared on the Flying 40 list every year. It shows their ability to grow and thrive right here in New Mexico.”

Some newer startups as well achieved prominent spots on this year’s list, reflecting the vibrant startup economy emerging in New Mexico.

“That continued growth in the technology sector is extraordinarily beneficial for our economy with the high-wage jobs these companies bring,” Freisinger said. “It’s great to see our technology economy coming back strong again.”

The Flying 40 awards, which began in 1998, aim to recognize the achievements of some of New Mexico’s top-performing technology companies, while celebrating their critical contribution to the state’s economy.

However, this could be the Flying 40’s final year. TVC is the prime driver for the annual event, but the organization closed down on May 1 after losing its annual funding from Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Flying 40 encompasses businesses from a broad range of technology sectors, including engineering, information technology, aviation, aerospace, solar energy and more.

Many are high-tech engineering firms that provide unique services to the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense, federal agencies such as NASA, and commercial clients. Others offer information technology services or construction and installation management. And many are marketing new products or services either developed in the state’s laboratories and research universities or created through grass-roots ingenuity.

Taken together, this year’s Flying 40 generated $985 million in revenue in 2016. That’s up from $714 million five years ago, and $927 million in 2015.

They employed a total of 4,917 people as of December, compared with 3,364 in 2012, and 4,055 in 2015.

The Flying 40 provides only a small snapshot of New Mexico’s technology economy, but it reflects the vibrancy of the state’s technology industries.

Nearly 3,000 technology companies currently operate in New Mexico, according to Cyberstates 2017, an annual state-by-state analysis of the U.S. tech industry published by the Computing Technology Industry Association. As of last December, those companies together accounted for $7.4 billion, or 7.9 percent, of New Mexico’s total gross state product. And they employed more than 47,000 people.

Three categories

The SolAero Technologies plant in Albuquerque. SolAero’s 2016 revenue topped $70 million. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The full Flying 40 list reflects three categories of companies. That includes top revenue-producing firms independent of their annual financial growth, top revenue-growth companies with more than $10 million in annual income, and fast-growing firms with between $1 million and $10 million in revenue.

Growth is measured over five years, from 2012-2016.

Most of the top revenue-producing companies are more than 20 years old and achieve spots on the Flying 40 every year. They’re all homegrown firms that have continually demonstrated their staying power in the market. Their annual revenue ranges from a low of $32 million for the Los Alamos-based engineering firm TechSource Inc. up to $233 million for the engineering behemoth Applied Research Associates in Albuquerque.

“We have a lot of professional service companies that regularly appear on the list,” Freisinger said. “That reflects the nature of our economy, with so many national labs that need contract services.”

Some of the big boys report major expansion. SolAero Technologies Corp., which had $71 million in revenue in 2016 and 250 local employees, announced a $10 million investment this year to remodel one of two facilities it operates at Sandia Science and Technology Park.

The company makes solar cells for satellites and other spacecraft here. It also makes carbon-fiber composite structures and assemblies at two subsidiaries in California.

Under the expansion, SolAero will concentrate all operations in Albuquerque to create a single, end-to-end production facility for fully assembled solar panels for spacecraft.

The investment will add 80 more jobs here, while streamlining operations to improve SolAero’s efficiency and market position, said CEO Brad Clevenger.

“We’re in the final stages of fitting out the building now,” Clevenger said. “We’ll finish up over the summer.”

Of top-growth companies with above $10 million in revenue on this year’s list, the Burgos Group LLC led the pack with more than 1,000 percent revenue growth from 2012-2016, from $1.5 million to $17.3 million. The company, which manages construction, safety and facility operations at military installations, has grown rapidly through aggressive bidding on federal contracts nationwide in recent years, said President and CEO Mario Burgos.

“We have contracts in seven states now,” Burgos said. “We expect to do more than $24 million next year.”

Advanced Network Management followed Burgos among the above $10 million companies by growing its revenue 430 percent, from $9.3 million in 2012 to $49.2 million last year. That company, which offers system networking, security and cloud storage services, has expanded operations to Colorado and Texas. But CEO Raminder Mann says aggressive efforts to win New Mexico contracts away from out-of-state firms accounts for most growth.

Rio Rancho-based coding company Pixegon Inc. showed the most growth of any firm on the Flying 40. That company, listed among firms with below $10 million in revenue, grew by 6,500 percent in the past five years, from $20,000 in revenue in 2012 to $1.3 million in 2016.

Metis Technology Solutions Inc., which offers high-tech engineering services to NASA and other federal agencies, also earned a prominent spot as a top-growth firm with below $10 million in revenue. Metis’ income rose 286 percent growth, from $2.1 million in 2012 to $6 million last year.



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