FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business


Small Businesses 10 Years Later: Where Are They Now?

In 2003, the U.S. economy was going on two years of growth after an eight-month recession. Third-quarter growth was the best in 20 years. Unemployment, around 5.4% in Florida and 6% nationally, was an issue, but U.S. interest rates and core inflation reached record lows. Household income grew solidly. That year, in its annual look at the fastest-growing businesses in the nation, Inc. magazine listed a small Boynton Beach nutritional products company called Vitacost at No. 303 after it posted 586% growth from 1998 to 2002. Vitacost had $11.5 million in revenue and 45 employees.

Times change. Nationally, the next 10 years saw the housing bubble inflate and burst and an 18-month recession. Unemployment peaked in Florida in January 2010 at 11.4.

For this year’s Small Business issue, Florida Trend looked at what happened to some of the Florida companies that made Inc.’s list of fast-growing companies and our own Florida Small Business issue from 2003.

Some sold. Some entrepreneurs moved out of state. Some companies no longer exist. But some kept on growing. Vitacost is one of them. It moved to Deerfield Beach and then, in 2007, to Boca Raton. It went public in 2009.

Now carrying cosmetics and other personal care products and pet products in addition to supplements, Vitacost at last report had more than 629 employees, 128 of them in Florida. Through the first nine months of 2012, it had chalked up $246 million in sales but a loss of $16 million.

PROFILES:

Nursing Itself Back to Health
Dwight Cooper’s staffing business has had to adjust to changing market conditions.

No Dummy
A software book deal propels Karen Fredricks to success.

Delivering the Goods
Amid shrinking Postal Service ranks, Mark Forst has managed to grow his postal carrier uniform business.

A Little Too Overeager
In trying to land a government contract, Eduardo Blanchet stretched the truth.