By Holly D. Smith
Inc. Magazine recently released its 2023 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately owned companies in the U.S. This year, a whopping 16 businesses based in Lee County made the prestigious list.
Dissecting the list generates some interesting analysis. As an economy historically driven by tourism, there was quite an impressive and growing diversity of industries among the 16 Lee County honorees: construction (4), business products and services (2), financial services (2), logistics and transportation (2), consumer services (1), consumer products (1), energy (1), health services (1), manufacturing (1) and software (1).
There also was growing geographic diversity, showing the 16 top-performing companies don’t just stick to the region’s industrial core: Fort Myers (9), Cape Coral (3), Bonita Springs (2), Estero (1) and North Fort Myers (1).
What does this all mean?
Southwest Florida has emerged as a larger force in Florida’s economy. Across Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, 24 locally owned companies made the Inc. 5000 list. That puts us well ahead of the Gainesville-Ocala region (10), Panhandle (11) and Sarasota-Bradenton region (13). What’s truly impressive is Southwest Florida has just one fewer company listed than the Jacksonville-St. Augustine metropolitan region, which has a much larger population.
We shouldn’t envision Southwest Florida being the next Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Tampa-St. Petersburg or Orlando-Kissimmee, and really, that’s a good thing. Leading that next group of mid-sized regions is exactly where we want to be.
The Inc. 5000 rankings use a three-year period to measure revenue growth. To qualify, companies needed at least $2 million in sales last year. The Lee County companies on the list reported three-year growth rates from 74% to 1,253%.
“It’s extremely difficult just to earn a spot on the Inc. 5000 list, but even harder to stay on it because you need to sustain elevated growth over a longer period,” MY Shower Door President and Founder Bill Daubmann said in announcing his company’s inclusion on the Inc. 5000 list for the seventh time. Another Daubmann family enterprise, D3 Glass, also earned a spot for the first time.
Joining Daubmann on the Inc. 5000 list was Mark Stevens, president of Stevens Construction, and Ryan Carter, president of Scotlynn USA. The three all work in different industries – consumer products/manufacturing for Daubmann, construction for Stevens and logistics/transportation for Carter. All three leaders are among the community’s strongest advocates for our local economy. Each is a valued investor of the Horizon Foundation, a nonprofit that raises private-sector money to support efforts of the Lee County Economic Development Office and Horizon Council to improve the area’s business climate. Their support helps inspire growth and ensures that Lee County can recruit the right companies to the area while still maintaining and improving the region’s standard of living.
“Investing in the Horizon Foundation is an investment into the future of Lee County,” Stevens said. “Building a stronger economy takes time and effort, and economic development extends far beyond just attracting new businesses to the area. You must provide a support network that allows existing businesses to grow and thrive, and that’s what the Horizon Foundation has done for Stevens Construction and hundreds of other local businesses.”
Stevens Construction was founded in 2003, expanding from a single office in Fort Myers to include full-scale operations in Tampa, Orlando and Sarasota.
Founded in 2010, Scotlynn USA’s network now expands across North America, growing from its initial 1,000-square-foot office to a new 60,000-square-foot headquarters that opened two years ago.
“The Horizon Foundation is an important piece to our public-private puzzle here in Lee County,” Carter said. “Our support, along with that of other stakeholders, is our way of helping to ensure a bright and promising future for our community.”
MY Shower Door was founded in 2003 and opened its ninth showroom last year, the company’s first on Florida’s east coast. The Daubmann family started D3 Glass in 2012 to fabricate, temper and laminate glass for its sister company.
“As a family-owned company, we started local and started small,” Daubmann said. “Every entrepreneur looks toward the future, and the Horizon Foundation provides businesses with resources and a network to achieve their goals.”