RVA 25: Meet the Class of 2018

W. John Oliver (right) founded Battle Monument with West Point classmates Mike Brumagin (left) and Tim Abbott. (Courtesy Battle Monument Partners)

It took revenue growth of more than 1,000 percent to land atop BizSense’s latest RVA 25 list of Richmond fastest-growing companies.

No. 1 is Battle Monument Partners, a 4-year-old commercial real estate investment fund that achieved average annual revenue growth of 1,079 percent from 2015 through 2017.

Co-founder W. John Oliver, an Army veteran of Operation Desert Storm and graduate of the United States Military Academy, said steady pacing and discipline enabled the company to hit its stride in its first four years.

“We started out with a disciplined approach and we have great support from the folks who invested in and believe in us,” Oliver said, adding that the firm has raised $5 million from investors since its inception.

“We have found the Richmond community extremely supportive during our early growth,” Oliver said. “Banking relationships, including Union Bank & Trust and South State Bank, among others. And GRS Title, a company we rely on heavily for transaction support.”

He also attributes the success to his staff of four and “a lot of really hard work” at its office at 530 E. Main St. downtown.

Oliver said Battle Monument operates within an “eight-hour radius of Richmond,” having purchased properties throughout the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia.

The firm has acquired 21 single-tenant commercial properties in its first three years, all but one outside of Virginia. Oliver estimates it has 180,000 total square feet across its portfolio.

“We buy one or two properties at a time,” Oliver said. “This approach has allowed us to grow in a controlled manner, without tremendous risk.”

The company often has purchased dollar stores in small markets that Battle Monument sees as “defensive in nature,” meaning they are least vulnerable to recessions.

Oliver founded Battle Monument with West Point classmates Mike Brumagin and Tim Abbott and he said an affinity with the military is an important part of company culture.

“Most of our investors have been people we’ve known for a long time; some military officers,” he said. “We are proud to have a few prominent Richmond-area investors – and would love to welcome more.”

Battle Monument was the only company to finish above 1,000 percent in growth.

No. 2 was Veracity, an IT consulting company based in Innsbrook, achieved 942 average annual growth in the three-year period.

CEO Bhadresh Patel has grown the company to 100 employees since its launch in 2015.

He said while he’s proud it’s based in Richmond, Veracity has taken on outside clients, including the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs.

The company won an award for its participation in Vet360, an initiative to streamline certain IT processes at the VA. Previously, veterans’ information was stored in many unsynchronized systems, causing confusion and delays in access for families and service providers.

“Its purpose is to provide a seamless experience for veterans by consolidating VA’s data silos,” Patel said.

He said his company’s name is intentionally meant to tie into the definition of the word “veracity,” which means conformity to accuracy and facts. Staffers seek to uphold that philosophy when dealing with clients.

“We are up front what the work will be and if there are roadblocks, how we can overcome them,” Patel said.

RVA Restoration, which topped last year’s list, finished third this year. (Courtesy of RVA Restoration)

RVA Restoration, last year’s top company, finished third this year.

The company, which repairs commercial and residential properties that have sustained fire, mold, water or storm damage, reported three-year revenue growth of 914 percent.

CEO Jeremy Ford said the 40-person company has succeeded by building a solid reputation in a niche industry.

Ford wants his staff to follow the company’s core principles: accountability, teamwork, respect, understanding the value of reputation and being hungry for success.

“The perception with contractors in general is that contractors are rough around the edges, late on deadlines and over budget, and they don’t care about the customer,” Ford said. “That’s a big deal to us. We take our reviews on social media seriously, we pay attention. It’s not that we don’t get negative reviews, but when we do, we address it.”

Despite its rapid growth, Ford said the company continues to operate with the mindset of a small business and reinvests in itself.

“You make money and then put it right back into the same company,” he said. “That’s the life of a small business the first three to five years. You reinvest in the company while you figure out the size and demand.”

He said he has an image of how large the company should grow.

“I don’t see us being a $20 million-a-year company,” Ford said. “At a certain point, you get too big and I don’t know how you keep track of having the core values and relating that back to customers if you’re so far removed.”

The company recently added an IRA to its employee benefits.

“Being able to offer more benefits has been a great thing to develop as we’ve started to mature as a company,” Ford said.

Companies on the RVA 25 list come from a variety of industries and sizes, including real estate, construction, parking and retail.

Nearly half of the companies listed were returning to the RVA 25, including multiyear list veterans such as CarLotz, the Hilb Group, WealthForge, Taradel and Colab Multimedia.

Five of the 25 offered to share their 2017 revenues publicly, as each company was given the option to keep that figure private. The largest among those was homebuilder R-CI Builders, with $43.6 million in revenue last year.

Applicants for RVA must be based in Richmond, have been in business for the full year in each of the three years measured, and have had a minimum of $500,000 in annual revenue in 2017.

All applicants submitted supporting financial documents to local accounting firm Keiter, which tabulated the percentages used in the final rankings.

The 25 firms will be honored at an invitation-only awards banquet on Oct. 11 at the Graduate Hotel downtown.

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MARK M DEUTSCH Recent comment authors
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Congratulations to all of the folks on the #RVA Top 25 this year. It’s great to see the growth in our region and with such a diversity of businesses. Keep it up!