Amid all the global economic carnage, Deloitte Fast 50 was almost like an island of business optimism. Powershop took out the top-spot with the competition's highest ever growth rate of 5280 percent, 2degrees was next on 3761 percent and many impressive smaller, often under-the-radar businesses from across the spectrum were recognised. But Special Group and The Research Agency stood out in the marcomms sector after being ranked as New Zealand's 16th and 42nd fastest growing companies respectively.
The criteria is based around revenue from the past three financial years (to qualify the first year needs to be over $300,000). So the phrase 'the topline's for vanity, the bottom line's for sanity' certainly comes to mind. In fact, one cad joked it was like a conference of businesses that weren't making any profit, largely because most of them are all fairly young and tend to invest it back in to the company.
Youtube VideoSpecial Group, which was also named Fastest Growing Business Services Business in Auckland and Upper North Island, is the first advertising agency to ever break into the top 20 and only the second ever to make the list.
"In a basic sense what we create is attention, sales and growth for our clients, so this award is just a result of doing that really well," says managing partner Michael Redwood.
Special has already won a swag of advertising accolades in its four year existence, with various Agency of the Year titles, a Cannes Grand Prix for Orcon + Iggy, Axis best in Show, Caxton best in show and multiple EFFIEs. Humans are simple creatures and we tend to like working with winners, so Tony Bradbourne hopes this recognition within the wider business community will help spread the Special gospel to potential clients.
The agency's growth has prompted its recent move from the rather pokey Kingsland office to much larger premises in Blake St, Freemans Bay. Currently the staff roster sits at around 20 and Bradbourne says the new space has the potential to house around 35.
The Research Agency made it onto the list for the second time this year after coming in 29th in 2010 and, much like That Difficult Second Album Syndrome, it's renowned as being very difficult to maintain enough growth to achieve the double up, so partners Andrew Lewis and Amber Coulter were understandably stoked to be there again. They said their appearance on the list last year was a bit of a marketing fillip and added some definite gravitas (it now works with a host of big clients like IAG, ASB and Vodafone).
Youtube VideoOther stand outs were premium yoghurt manufacturer Piako in 7th with growth of 768 percent ("now we just need to convince people overseas to pay $12 a kg for sugary milk", said the entertainingly honest owner during his victory speech), the design-led dairy brand The Collective in 28th with 280 percent growth, and, for all those who said 'pfff, candles' when it launched, Ecoya in 8th spot with 544 percent growth.
The awards have been running for a decade and the event was held simultaneously in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin.