Second-stage business success stories
How five Florida businesses grew despite a slow economy.
2010 Revenue: $10 million to $12 million
Employees: 40 (up from 18 in 2004)
It has been a challenging few years for MBF Industries, which manufactures SWAT trucks, mobile crime labs, bloodmobiles, mobile banks/ATMs and a number of other specialty vehicles. Banks have purchased far fewer mobile vehicles, and sales of bloodmobiles and other mobile healthcare units have also slowed. The military and homeland security market, however, has remained strong and carried the company through these difficult times.
"We've gone through the recession. We've continued to grow. We're pretty much maxed out at our present facilities, and we've been able to stay at full employment all the way through this," says company founder and President John Baker.
Baker formed the company in 1992 after selling banks on the idea of mobile facilities to reach customers in areas where it wasn't cost-effective to build a branch. He first contracted with another company to build the mobile branches, then set up his own manufacturing plant.
As his mobile banking business grew, Baker diversified, building and refurbishing bloodmobiles and other medical-type vehicles. After 9/11 he expanded in the homeland security and military arenas, manufacturing forensic labs, bomb trucks with robots and mobile command units. Demand heightened even more after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Today, MBF Industries manufactures approximately 10 different homeland security-type vehicles, which can range from $100,000 to $1.5 million each, and the company is the largest builder of the heavy-duty mobile command vehicles, catering to federal and state law enforcement authorities, defense contractors and the military.
Baker says he could "double in size if the environment was right" but is waiting until he sees improvement in "the tax situation, the impact of medical care costs and all these things that are associated with running a business."
Founder and President John Baker [Photo: Brook Pifer]