Two homegrown companies rooted in technology have claimed spots near the top of the Inc. 5000 list of the country's fastest-growing, privately owned businesses.
FreightWaves, a provider of supply chain and logistics data, news and information, debuted on the list at No. 85. Text Request, which builds text messaging software for small businesses, is also on the list for the first time at No. 335.
The 2021 list includes 13 companies in the Chattanooga area — the highest number ever on the annual Inc. list of the fastest growing businesses in America. Seven of the local businesses on this year's list are logistics companies, while six are technology firms.
About the Inc. 5000
The Inc. 5000 ranks companies by overall revenue growth over a three-year period. To be eligible for the 2021 list, companies had to:
Be privately owned, based in the United States, independent (not a subsidiary or division of another company)
Have started earning revenue by March 31, 2016
Had revenue no less than $100,000 in 2016
Had revenue no less than $2 million in 2019
Had 2019 revenue that exceeded revenue in 2016
"We happen to fit in both buckets," said Craig Fuller, founder and CEO of FreightWaves.
FreightWaves also topped the list as the fastest-growing Tennessee-based company, in a year when the pandemic put the supply chain front-and-center across the globe.
"It's so critical to the success of our economy, and since World War II we've never seen this level of disruption," Fuller said. "Our job is to help monitor those things and help companies that are managing and moving freight to better interpret these events with real-time market information."
Founded in 2016, FreightWaves has gone almost fully remote in the last year, with a core team of about 20 people who produce a daily newscast in the downtown Chattanooga office and another 150 employees in Chattanooga and beyond.
"We don't have enough space if we were to go back in the office," Fuller said.
Fuller grew up in the logistics business, and worked for a time at U.S. Xpress, the company founded by his father, Max.
"I knew there was need for information, that the market is pretty opaque," he said. "If you work in the industry, you understand how many interconnected parties and failure points along the supply chain take place every single day."
FreightWaves plans an initial public offering in the next two years, he said.
Text Request, founded in 2014, recently launched a new HIPAA-compliant text messaging service for medical providers. Demand for texting services exploded across industries as the pandemic took hold, said Kenneth Burke, a vice president of marketing for Text Request.
"Text messaging as a business communication channel had been growing anyway, Text Request had been doing the right things and growing anyway, so we were well positioned when all this happened," he said. "Then everyone went remote and companies had to figure out a few things."
The company, which has 24 employees, recently moved into a new downtown headquarters in Jack's Alley on Market Street. The idea for Text Request came in 2011, when spouses and serial entrepreneurs Brian and Jamey Elrod were trying to flag down a busy server in a restaurant so they could leave with their fussy toddler.
"To be recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country is something to celebrate," Brian Elrod said. "But to finish in the top 10 percent is absolutely remarkable."
Contact Mary Fortune at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.
Inc. 5000: The Chattanooga edition
(120 companies in Tennessee / 13 in the Chattanooga area)
#85: FreightWaves has the highest ranking in the state, and is on the list for the first time with a 4,597% three-year growth rate from 2017-2020.
335: Text Request is on the list for the first time with a 1,399% three-year growth rate.
619: Network Transport is on the list for the first time with a 777% three-year growth rate.
896: Trident Transport was also on the list in 2018-2020, and had a 544% three-year growth rate.
1,194: Steam Logistics was also on this list in 2017-2020, and had a 405% three-year growth rate.
1,559: Reliance Partners was also on this list in 2016-2020, and had a 302% three-year growth rate.
2,324: Lync Logistics was also on this list in 2018-2020, and had a 183% three-year growth rate.
2,587: Max Trans Logistics was also on this list in 2019 and 2020, and had a 159% three-year growth rate.
2,680: Syssero is on the list for the first time with a 151% three-year growth rate.
3,672: Conversant Group was also on this list in 2015-2020, and had a 91% three-year growth rate.
3,809: Saturday Drive (Cleveland, Tennessee) was also on the list in 2020, and had an 85% three-year growth rate.
4,308: Skuid was also on this list in 2018-2020, and had a 66% three-year growth rate.
4,961: Thinking Media is on the list for the first time, with a 40% three-year growth rate.
(89 in Tennessee / 11 in Chattanooga)
#609: Trident Transport
631: Avenger Logistics
786: Lync Logistics
1,366: Reliance Partners
1,683: Taimen Transport
2,204: FitzMark Logistics
2,482: Max Trans Logistics
2,502: Conversant Group
2,741: Steam Logistics
4,440: AHS Consulting
(85 in Tennessee / 12 in Chattanooga)
366: Lync Logistics
483: Trident Transport
1,021: Reliance Partners
1,302: FitzMark Logistics
1,339: Taimen Transport
1,896: Steam Logistics
2,154: Max Trans Logistics
2,469: Conversant Group
3,845: Flywheel Brands
4,169: AHS Consulting
(85 companies / 8 in Chattanooga)
#400: Trident Transport
415: Lync Logistics
591: Reliance Partners
1,412: FitzMark Logistics
1,555: Steam Logistics
3,220: Conversant Group
(88 in Tennessee / 4 in Chattanooga)
#254: Steam Logistics
461: Reliance Partners
(80 in Tennessee / 3 in Chattanooga)
729: Reliance Partners
2,355: Conversant Group