Upstarts move up the growth chart
On Oct. 27 MountainWest Capital Network, an independent business networking group, held its 11th annual Utah 100 Fastest-Growing Companies Awards. Neighboring Park City businesses Backcountry.com and Supplemental Healthcare each made this year s list. Backcountry.com Backcountry.com, an online outdoor retailer that ranked ninth on the top 100 list, has experienced exponential growth since its start in 1996. Owners and founders Jim Holland and John Bresee started BackcountryStore.com, which would become Backcountry.com in May 2004, out of a condo in Park City. In 1997, BackcountryStore.com s first full year, the business sold $50,000 worth of gear. Last year, the company sold $27.4 million, Bresee said, an 84 percent increase over the previous year. When they founded the BackcountryStore.com, Bresee published the Wasatch Canyon Reporter newspaper and Holland was finishing up an Olympic ski jumping career. We decided the Internet looked pretty cool, but we are also pretty obsessed with gear and we literally took $2,000 that we made building websites for people to start the site, Bresee said. Backcountry.com now carries over 7,000 product items from 250 vendors, including The North Face, Oakley, Burton, Rossignol and K2. Bresee said at the company s start he and Holland didn t earn salaries and Backcountry barely earned a profit. Keeping tabs on what works year to year and what doesn t has driven the company s success, he added. We ve had a really frugal approach the whole way and that s really helped us, Bresee said. Backcountry opened its first retail store and storage space in a 2,000-foot garage in Heber in 1998. In 2002 the company moved into a 16,000-square-foot garage in Heber. When that space got tight, they moved the gear into a 50,000-square-foot warehouse in West Valley. Backcountry.com already has outgrown its storage space and is in the process of moving into another Salt Lake City warehouse. The new warehouse provides over 200,000 square feet of room. In 1998 BackcountryStore.com hired its first employee, Christian Gennerman. Gennerman, who is still with Backcountry.com today, said his first desk was cut from a door and the business was run from a room in Holland s home. He said he took on many duties in the beginning, including accounting, shipping, customer service and buying. Gennerman is now involved in closeout purchasing for one of the company s new websites, SteepandCheep.com. We didn t try and grow. It just happened and it was kind of in spite of ourselves, he said. We brought a new mentality to the outdoor industry. Gennerman said the company pioneered product-to-product websites where searches for a product on a vendor website will link to the same product on Backcountry.com. Prior to this effort, the company relied on vendor links which would only connect to the Backcountry.com homepage. We keep looking to the online world as a whole to improve things and we continue to set ourselves up as a leader in e-commerce, Gennerman said. In January, Backcountry.com moved its corporate office back to Park City in the Redstone Towne Center. Bresee said the company is continuing to grow and Backcountry.com is actively hiring in marketing, inventory and customer service departments. Over the past 18 months Backcountry.com launched five additional websites. In 2004 they introduced BackcountryOutlet.com, Tramdock.com, a ski specific site, and Dogfunk.com, a snowboarding specific site. This year they added Explore64, a site devoted to affordable gear, and SteepandCheap, a daily discount site. It s been successful because we don t know what we are doing but we are willing to learn and to study it, and we focus on what the customer needs and wants, Bresee said. Supplemental Health Care Supplemental Health Care, a healthcare staffing business located in the same building as Backcountry.com, ranked 31st for Utah s fastest growing companies list. Supplemental Health Care has been in business since 1984, but the ratings are based on the company s past five years. Stephen Ure, vice president of finance administration, said a successful travel nurse division in Buffalo, New York provided a springboard for the company s expansion throughout the country. Our main thrust has been to expand nationwide, said Ure, who joined the company in 2000. Supplemental Health Care opens approximately 10 new office locations each year. There are now over 50 division offices in 22 cities, including Salt Lake City. Ure said each Supplemental Health Care office location provides local and travel nurses and allied health staff, including physical and occupational therapists, to healthcare facilities in each area. The company provides relocation reimbursement, private housing, personalized assistance with the move and licensing assistance for its travel staff. Supplemental Health Care, now the 10th largest healthcare staffing business in the country, earned $10 million in revenue in 2000 and 195 million last year. In 2000 Supplemental Health Care had 100 employees and approximately 200 customers. Now there are over 3,000 customers and approximately 2,500 employees nationwide, including nurses and therapists. Forty-five employees work out of the corporate headquarters in Park City. Ure said Supplemental Health Care maintains consistent contact with clients and staff. We hire people that are very skilled in this business and our claim to fame is that we service our clients better than our competition does, he said. Ure said clients find out about Supplemental Health Care from direct mail and travel journal advertisements and the Web site. For more information visit http://www.supplementalhealthcare.com.
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