Energy, construction and technology were the big winners among the Bakersfield companies that landed on this year's Inc. 5000 list.
The list is compiled by Inc. magazine, which annually ranks 5,000 companies by percentage of revenue growth over a three-year period, in this case, from 2008 to 2011. To make the list, companies must apply and supply information about revenue, hiring and other growth measures.
Bakersfield had 10 companies on the list, up from nine in 2011.
"Ten out of 5,000. We'd like to see that go up more, of course," said Richard Chapman, president and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corp. "But we're the fastest growing economy in the country right now. It looks like retail is the only area where we haven't had really strong year-over-year growth."
The fastest growing local business on the list was Hathaway LLC, an independent oil producer in Bakersfield that grew 266 percent over the past three years. That earned it the No. 1,182 spot.
Hathaway sister company Payzone Directional Services, which drills for oil and gas horizontally, also made the list, ranking 3,972 with 37 percent growth.
It's the second year on the list for both companies.
Hathaway President and CEO Chad Hathaway credited his "phenomenal" employees, but added that the commodities markets are helping, too.
"The high oil prices are good for the whole oil industry," he said.
Strong commodities markets also gave a 26 percent boost to PLCs Plus International, whose No. 4,341 ranking was the firm's fifth appearance on the list.
"We do industrial automation, and there's high demand for industrial automation in oil and gas and agriculture, which are both doing really well right now," said President Lee Britt.
Automation also creates a market for sister company Electrical Systems and Instrumentation, whose revenue rose 28 percent, earning it No. 4,276.
The company provides electrical construction and maintenance and related services for the oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, power, and food and beverage industries.
Strong commodity prices not only affect companies directly in those industries, but also the vendors they do business with.
Two local Inc. 5000 newcomers with oil companies as clients are APAC Rubber, which ranked No. 1,388. The company produces a heat-resistant rubber that's primarily used by the oil and gas industries.Gazelle Transportation, which transports crude oil and monitors tanker trucks, ranked 2,247 with 113 percent growth.
Financial services company Moneywise Wealth Management also is new to the list, possibly helped by more confidence in investment markets as the economy improves.
Architecture and construction firm Klassen Corp. may have benefitted from a surge in construction in Kern County. The region led the nation for the addition of new construction jobs over the summer, spurred in part by low existing home inventory as the housing market was rebounding.
Technology companies had a strong showing nationwide, and that was true in Bakersfield, as well.
Lightspeed Systems, which develops network security software for schools, returned for a sixth time with 149 percent growth; and ARRC Technology, which services and designs computer and phone networks, is back for a fifth year with 21 percent growth.
Technology is a sector that is fairly resilient in an economic downturn, said ARRC co-owner and corporate administrator Monique Rogers.
"I.T. is in a lot of ways like the health care industry," she said. "We're all so technically reliant now. When you think about cutting back, it's not like a car where you can say, 'I won't buy a new car this year because I can get by with the old one.' Without the Internet or access to your data in the cloud, you're not in business. So I don't see a lot of people skimping there."
Also, sometimes investing in technology is a way to save money in the long-run, which is particularly attractive in a soft economy when budgets are tight, said Amy Bennett, vice president of marketing at Lightspeed Systems.
Unfortunately for Bakersfield, fast-growing revenue doesn't necessarily mean a lot of new jobs, so don't look for a deep dip in the county's 13.6 percent unemployment rate.
Local growth leader Hathaway has just 14 employees, six of whom were added over the three-year period that Inc. scrutinized.
"We strategically plan our hiring around specific needs, and a lot of people around here wear two hats," Hathaway said.
Gazelle Transportation created the most jobs, hiring 178 of its 254 employees in the last three years.
ARRC Technology and APAC Rubber didn't add to their staffs between 2008 and 2011.
North Miami Beach, Fla.,-based Unified Payments was the fastest growing company in the country with whopping 23,646 percent revenue growth for its merchant payment processing services.
It has 31 employees, 11 of which were picked up since 2008.
Nationally, about 52 percent of the Inc. 5000 companies were founded by women. Latino-owned companies accounted for 14 percent. Black-owned companies comprised 6 percent. Among Asian entrepreneurs on the list, 9 percent were East Asian and 18 percent were South Asian.