Crain’s annual roundup of the fastest-growing Chicago companies could be one of the best indicators of the marketplace.
We present 50 companies that achieved impressive gains over a five-year period, highlighting companies that are new to the list. Crain’s reporters and researchers studied each company and asked probing questions of CEOs to figure out how they grew. What did each company do to achieve impressive gains? And how do they plan to sustain them?
Crain’s and Plante Moran vetted 125 applications.
#9 LIGHT EFFICIENT DESIGN
What it does: Designs and manufactures LED lighting products
How it grew: Getting the word out to distributors through trade shows and the press
"I knew LED lighting was going to be the future of light," says Tim Taylor, CEO of Light Efficient Design, which manufactures and sells a range of light-emitting diode bulbs for commercial customers. That's because clients save money by swapping out older bulbs for his company's options, lowering their electricity bills and reducing maintenance costs. The LED Savings Calculator on its website drives home the point. The firm's bulbs, made in Asia, are in Fenway Park in Boston and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., as well as in schools and warehouses across the country and in lampposts that line streets and parks.
Over the past five years, Taylor's team has boosted inventory, adding about 50 designs, allowing customers to choose bulbs that cast different shades — a brighter white, for example, or a more yellow tint. It has worked hard to communicate with distributors and promote its offerings at trade shows and in industry publications, raising its profile and helping it grow, he adds.
Opportunities abound for the company. There's a $500 million market installing LED lights into existing fixtures, but just 3 or 4 percent of it has been tapped to date, Taylor says. Overseas there are unique chances for growth. Light Efficient Design is working with a marketing partner to ramp up operations in the United Kingdom, where about 3 million light fixtures have a historic element. Customers won't want to alter such fixtures, but Taylor says his firm can show them how to use new bulb technology in them. Overall, the LED market offers a "huge upside," he says.
— Micah Maidenberg
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