Seven Boston-area companies named to Inner City top 100 list

Harvard Business School  Michael Porter
Harvard Business School Michael Porter

When Kim Sawyer was looking to start The Locator Services Group, Ltd., she specifically chose to locate in the inner city. The negative connotation was not applicable.

“It was essential to be able to take advantage of the infrastructure of the city,” she said. The proximity of the office at 280 Summer St. to South Station allows her to hire commuters from all over the region.

That decision, made more than 21 years ago enabled her corporate asset recovery firm to make the 2015 Inner City 100, a list of the fastest-growing inner city businesses in the US. The ranking, compiled by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Fortune, is based on revenue growth between 2010 and 2014 and includes seven Boston-area companies. The average growth rate over the last five years is 378 percent.

“These businesses are showing there’s a competitive advantage to operating in the inner cities,” said Kate Haggerty, urban business initiatives manager at ICIC. “They are hiring locally and adding to our local economy and they are good businesses.”

Sawyer never expected to be mentioned on this list – The Locator Services Group is number 87 – or win numerous other honors for being a woman in business. She is a Stevie Awards finalist in the “women helping women” category.

“I’m always willing to admit failure, recognize failure, and change the way we are doing things while always maintaining true to our core values.” Sawyer said. Earning recognition for a 99 percent growth over the last five years “demonstrates that we are a sustainable business.”

Daren Bascome, founder of brand agency Proverb LLC, started at his dining room in Jamaica Plain in 1997 with $4,000 and a used laptop. In his first year, his clients included Bacardi, Radius, a restaurant in the financial district which closed in 2013, and the Boston Computer Museum, which is now the Museum of Science.

He worked for 10 years before taking on business partner Christine Needham and renting space in the fall of 2008. The firm has grown over the last seven years to 10 core team members and 15 freelancers. Proverb’s revenue growth rate was 184 percent from 2010 to 2014, landing him the 50th spot on the ranking.

“It’s always been a goal of ours to have the sort of growth to warrant a spot on the list,” Bascome said. “Our location on Albany Street, which historically was the back of the South End, has been a real advantage to us. It’s hot right now.”

The ICIC, founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, defines inner city as core urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than their surrounding metropolitan areas. Small business development corporations, large companies, and city offices nominated businesses for the application process. The 100 recipients were notified in early July that they made the list, which was audited by Rucci, Bardaro, and Falzone, PC, an independent accounting firm.

PepperDash Technology Corp., an information technology services provider with a specialty in audio visual software in Allston, has made the Inner City 100 list five or six times, said Howard Nunes, president and chief executive at PepperDash. The 156 percent growth rate over the last five years is attributed to strong focus on constant improvement and landing big-name clients in the oil, bank, and technology industries, he said. For security reasons, Nunes could not release the names of his clients.

“It’s an interesting ranking, but the actual events and the award ceremony that are offered through the ICIC may or may not fit for the people participating,” Nunes said in reference to PepperDash’s absence from Wednesday’s event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. “It’s the crowd you want to want to network with, but we have tapped that dry.”

PepperDash, founded in 2000, sits at number 61 in the 2015 ranking.

The highest-ranking Boston-area company is Janey Construction Management and Consulting, Inc. at number 12 with a revenue growth rate of 767 percent. The construction firm, located on Huntington Avenue in Boston, earned $3.04 million in 2014.

Two companies outside of Boston, environmental and construction services TANTARA Corp. from Worcester and recreation center Imajine That
of Lawrence, also made the list at number 25 and 36, respectively.

The remaining Boston-area companies are Fennick McCredie Architecture Ltd. of Boston; One Way Development Inc., a construction contractor company in Roslindale; and project management services Pinck & Co. of Boston.