NM's top tech firms show steady growth - Albuquerque Journal

NM’s top tech firms show steady growth

This year’s Flying 40 list of top technology companies shows many homegrown New Mexico startups are hitting the fast track in revenue growth after years of navigating the initial stages of launch and development.

A U.S. Air Force F-15A Eagle awaits disassembly at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Ariz. The Burgos Group, this year's top Flying 40 honoree, is providing supply management and support services at the base. (Courtesy of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base)
A U.S. Air Force F-15A Eagle awaits disassembly at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Ariz. The Burgos Group, this year’s top Flying 40 honoree, is providing supply management and support services at the base. (Courtesy of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base)

And, while many firms are still working to build their products, services and markets, most have planted healthy roots and are demonstrating real staying power, said John Freisinger, president and CEO of Technology Ventures Corp., which hosts the annual Flying 40 awards.

“Some of the companies that used to be small are now turning into medium-sized firms,” Freisinger said “And we’re now seeing many small companies move from research and development into the manufacturing phase and shipping product.”

Two companies, the Burgos Group LLC and Sierra Peaks Corp., leapt from last year’s list of businesses with below $10 million in revenue to top spots on the high-flying list of firms with above $10 million in revenue. In fact, the Burgos Group – which manages construction, safety and facility operations at military installations – snagged the No. 1 spot this year after growing its revenue 1,548 percent over the past five years, from just $727,000 in 2011 to nearly $12 million in 2015.

The annual Flying 40 awards, now in their 19th year, celebrate the success of New Mexico’s technology industries by recognizing top revenue-generating firms and by specifically highlighting companies that demonstrate the fastest growth in revenue over five years.

“It’s recognition for those companies that lay the foundation for New Mexico’s technology economy,” Freisinger said. “Oftentimes, the ones who get the most press attention are the new ones with unique, innovative ideas, but the Flying 40 recognizes those who have unique ideas and who have sustained growth with their innovations over a long period of time. We want to celebrate their success and this is one way to do it.”

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

Overall, technology companies account for about 5.5 percent of the total state economy, according to Cyberstates 2016, an annual state-by-state analysis of the U.S. tech industry published by the Computing Technology Industry Association. This year’s report, released in February, counted 2,953 technology establishments as of 2015, with more than 46,000 employees, or 7.5 percent of all private-sector workers in New Mexico.

This year’s Flying 40 companies employed a total of 4,055 people as of year-end 2015, up 19 percent from the 3,409 jobs those firms reported in 2011. Combined revenue for all the companies reached $927 million in 2015, up from $840 million five years ago.

Not all Flying 40 firms managed to grow their revenue since 2011. Some reported declines. For example, revenue at Los Alamos Technical Associates – which offers management services in things such as environmental remediation and industrial process control – has dropped by $106 million since 2011, from $238 million to $132 million in 2015. But that company and others on the Flying 40’s list of top revenue-generating firms are technology stalwarts whose annual revenue fluctuates as contracts come and go.

Meanwhile, companies on the Flying 40’s fast growth lists demonstrated substantial jumps in revenue in the double and triple digits.

The 15 companies on the above-$10 million fast growth list reported $502 million in combined revenue in 2015, up from $294 million in 2011. Revenue for the 16 fast-growing firms with below $10 million grew from $34.6 million in 2011 to $61.9 million last year.

The growth among companies with under $10 million is particularly encouraging, said TVC Chief Financial Officer Todd Hunter, because it shows that they’re gaining traction.

“Many of them are now well-established firms,” Hunter said. “About half of those companies had 100 percent or greater growth. Many are now potentially trending into the greater-than-$10-million category.”

The Flying 40 companies represent a broad range of technology businesses, from engineering and information technology to the aviation, aerospace and solar industries, Freisinger said.

TVC and Flying 40 sponsoring organizations will honor all winners on Wednesday at the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo. That includes three companies that will receive Falcon Awards, which are honorable mentions for firms that are close to qualifying for the Flying 40, but have not yet reached the $1 million in revenue needed to be on the list.

In recent years, the awards event reflected sports-themed ceremonies, with last year’s celebration held at the Albuquerque Isotopes Park. This year, however, event organizers chose the zoo to create a more family-oriented affair for children and other guests. All Flying 40 winners will receive hand-carved animal safari masks made in remote villages in Indonesia and Bali.

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