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Kalamazoo Gazette: Kalamazoo area is well represented on the Inc. 500|5000

This article originally appeared in the Friday, August 24, 2012 issue of the Kalamazoo Gazette By Al Jones |

KALAMAZOO, MI – The list of Kalamazoo-area companies included among this year’s Inc.’s 500|5000 fastest growing private companies in America has grown.

The inclusion of Amerifirst Home Mortgage, of Portage, on the list was the subject of an earlier story. But there were three others. “It’s a real honor to be recognized on Inc.‘s 500/5000 list as one of the quickest-growing companies — and advertising agencies — in the country,” said Jane Tamraz, chief executive officer of Biggs|Gilmore, of Kalamazoo. “Much of our growth has been organic within our roster of Fortune 500 clients as a result of our proven track record and more investment by brands in digital marketing.”

Cited for their significant growth, they include: Maestro – The 5-year-old business helps companies build online, mobile, and blended employee training programs to help improve company communications and sales. It designs high-tech training and support materials — a majority of which are for the Apple iPad, It recently relocated from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s M-TEC facilities in Texas Township to downtown to gain needed space. The company was ranked 573rd, based on 644 percent growth over the last three years. According to Inc., its revenue grew from about $366,800 to about $2.7 million during that time. It added 15 workers, to bring it staff to 21 people through 2011. In April, a company spokeswoman said the company expected to have 38 workers by September.

Forensic Fluids Laboratories – The 7-year-old Kalamazoo company was ranked No. 807. Forensic Fluids specializes in drug testing using oral fluid and saliva. It tests workers for an extensive list of controlled substances, including drugs of abuse as well as medication monitoring (for mental health and opiate medications). It is the only drug testing facility in the country owned and operated by a woman, Bridget Lorenz Lemberg. The magazine noted that the company has grown by 423 percent over the last three years, increasing its staff from five people to 30 people. It revenue grew from about $1.1 million in 2008 to about $5.8 million in 2011.

Amerifirst Home Mortgage – The privately-held, Portage-based community mortgage banking company is one of the state’s largest players in home loans in rural areas, and is also a specialist in FHA and Department of Agriculture loans. Founded in 1987, the company was ranked 1,449th on the list of 5000, with a three-year growth rate of about 207 percent, according to Inc. It added 122 workers, bringing its staff to 215 people. It grew its revenues from about $7.7 million in 2008 to about $23.8 million in 2011.

Biggs|Gilmore – The 39-year-old Kalamazoo-based advertising and digital services company counts Kellogg Co., Heinz and Kimberly-Clark among its clients. It provides digital services for major brands such as Pop Tarts and Huggies. That includes expertise with website design and development, social media and loyalty programs. According to Inc., the firm added 67 workers during the past three years to bring its staff to 138 people. According to information provided by the company, it now has more than 150 employees. Its revenues grew from about $10.1 million in 2008 to $18.3 million last year. Biggs|Gilmore was ranked No. 2,828 on the list, with a growth rate of 81 percent over the last three years. The 2012 Inc. 500|5000 ranked independent, privately-held, for-profit, U.S. businesses based on their revenue growth, by percentage, from 2008 to 2011. To be considered, companies had to be generating at least $100,000 in revenue by March 31, 2008 and at least $2 million in 2011.

For more information on this article, contact Al Jones at or 269-365-7187.

© 2012 All rights reserved.

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