Past Winner Highlights: 2016 Florida Companies to Watch
A typical Florida Companies to Watch class is comprised of businesses who collectively gross over $450 million in annual revenue, add more than 350 new jobs per year, average a 30% increase in earnings and experience almost 20% growth in employees annually. They represent great companies from throughout the state of Florida. Meet three of our past winning companies!
Gary Gorsline, founder of X-Link Medical Software Interfacing, launched his medical record integrating company after seeing firsthand the depth of the problem that needed solving. “Our third daughter was very sick when she was little,” he said. “We went to 40 doctors to figure out what it was before finally finding one who knew what was going on. One of the things we learned was that medical records weren’t kept well, couldn’t be shared, and got lost. We saw the solution: everyone needed to be connected and possess the ability to view each patient longitudinally across multiple caregivers for the more complex cases.”
X-Link is medical software that enables different electronic medical record systems to talk to each other. “It is critical to the direction our healthcare industry is moving in, from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, that we have financial and clinical data to know what we’ve done in terms of procedures, tests and clinical outcomes. The idea is to give everyone a better lifestyle by keeping their medical costs down and their outcomes up. For example, by keeping people out of hospital because providers have managed their health better with the help of information sharing.”
Gorsline is humbled by GrowFL’s recognition as a Florida Company to Watch. “It’s an exciting thing,” he said. “It’s definitely important to be one of the select 50 companies. It’s great feedback that we’re doing the right kinds of things and we have made that transition from a lifestyle to a growth company.”
Gorsline’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of all the resources available to Florida companies. “You must use all the resources that are available in your area,” he said. “Get involved in networking groups whose peers are above your level. Take advantage of all the resources agencies from your local economic development council to the SBDC to Enterprise Florida and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Finally, get involved and stay involved with your community.”
Steven Hatch and Ken Hoffman, founders of DynaFire, are entrepreneurs who have grown the company to 170 employees by practicing what they preach. They advise entrepreneurs to focus their resources on a market need. “Once you have identified something missing in the market, focus on solving that need,” Hatch said. “Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Too many companies try to provide too wide of a range of products or services. Do one thing and be the best at it.”
That thinking is what led to the creation of DynaFire, which designs, installs and monitors systems over DynaFire’s private radio network, eliminating the need for phone lines. Before teaming up, Hoffmann worked with a consulting firm developing technology in the security space, and Hatch spent a decade working at Honeywell, one of the premier fire safety manufacturers in the world.
Their deep experience helped them identify the market need in the fire and life safety space. “Either the business was controlled by large international corporations or small companies that were not qualified to deal with situations on the level they needed to be dealt with,” Hoffmann said. “We saw an opportunity to form a mid-size, mid-level company with the resources and skill to compete with large corporations but at the price point of a smaller company.”
Since DynaFire’s launch in 2004, it had grown steadily until 2015 when it increased its growth rate and was recognized by GrowFL as a Florida Company to Watch. Hatch and Hoffmann attribute their success to a multitude of things, but the foremost is living by the DynaFire mission statement, “Protecting lives and property through leading technologies and quality service while creating valuable relationships,” because Hatch said, “In an industry where life and valuable property are at stake, people need to be able to trust you.”
Mark Malek, co-founder of Widerman Malek, PL, credits deep mentorship and strategic planning for his firm’s strong growth. “When we were younger, great people took the time to sit with us when we asked them for advice,” Malek said. “When we asked them questions about business, they took the time to teach us. We had leaders of major accounting firms, experienced attorneys, and successful entrepreneurs from different fields speak with us. A law firm is a business and treating it as a business instead of just a group of lawyers practicing law has been the key to our success.”
In addition to mentorship, Malek believes strategic planning has played a valuable role in his firm’s success. “Our growth had been very strategic and planned growth,” he said. “Everything we do here is the result of the strategic planning retreats we have a couple times per year where we do 3, 5, and 10-year planning.” As a result, Widerman Malek has grown from a two person firm launched in 2003 to the 46 employee full-service firm it is today in 2016.
Malek is especially proud of the firm’s culture. “Our single largest success is that we have a culture of a group of best friends that get the opportunity to work together,” he said. “We were hell bent on setting up a place people actually enjoy coming to. We focus on our culture so that it is a place where everyone is aligned, had the same goals and everyone gets along.”
Malek is also honored that his firm is among the GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch this year. “It is a tremendous honor,” he said. “It shows us that people have recognized our growth and our commitment to the community and to one another and that we work together as a team to grow.”
CLICK HERE to view the full list of 2016 Florida Companies to Watch Winners