KS Industries LP was having trouble getting its logo stitched neatly onto its uniforms and promotional apparel. Marketing companies said the image required too many threads over too small an area.

Then the local energy services provider came across a company in its own back yard: Bakersfield-based Proforma Progressive Marketing.

"Proforma was able to digitize our logo and sew it in a way others never offered," KS Industries COO Bret Kingsbury said by email, "and it is perfect now."

Service like that has put Proforma, a franchisee with 10 local employees, on a prestigious annual ranking released in mid-August of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the country.

TWICE 2019'S TOTAL

Five other businesses based in Kern County have joined Proforma on this year's list, the Inc. 5000. That's twice as many local companies than made the ranking last year, before the magazine that puts together the list broadened its sales metric from a single year of growth to a company's average over three years.

The county total is smaller than it was in 2012, when 10 Kern businesses appeared in the ranking. But it's still quite respectable, observed Ken Keller, president and CEO of Memorial Hospital, one of Proforma's customers.

"Companies representing Bakersfield on the Inc. 5000 continue to put us on the map, so I think it's a very good thing," said Keller. He added that Proforma's capable focus on brand management has helped Memorial's promotions and campaigns stand out.

Appearing on the list is a point of pride for companies that made the list, a sign their business is hitting the mark and outpacing competitors.

RETURN HONOREES

Half of the locally based businesses on the magazine's 2020 list also made the cut last year.

Tasteful Selections, an Arvin-based grower and seller of bite-size potatoes, ranked 2,440th out of 5,000 in 2019, when its year-over-year growth was reported at 163 percent and its annual revenue was listed as $127.5 million. This year it came in at No. 3,941.

Stria, a business process outsourcing company specializing in document management, ranked 4,350th in 2019. The Bakersfield company was listed as having 70 percent growth and revenues of $6.1 million. In 2020 it ranked 3,774th.

Grapevine MSP Technology Services is an information technology management firm that ranked 4,830th in 2019 with annual revenues of $4.8 million per year and a one-year growth rate of 57 percent. In 2020 Grapevine ranked 4,596.

NEW THIS YEAR

New to the Inc. 5000 this year was a locally based company called BCR Developments LLC, which started in 2015 in Denver and has since expanded to Bakersfield; Phoenix; Gilbert, Ariz.; Fresno; San Luis Obispo; Boise, Idaho; and Bend, Ore.

Doing business under the name Puzzle Effect, BCR hosts themed "escape room" parties that challenge participants to work as a team to solve a situational mystery on a tight deadline.

Co-founder Cody Gaines said the company's strong growth — it reached about 100 employees prior to the pandemic and is now holding at 45 — results from its ability to reconnect people without the distraction of computers. Professional determination played a role, too.

"It was hard work and perseverance and just not accepting no for an answer," he said.

Also new to this year's Inc. 5000 is Bakersfield real estate firm Ascend Real Estate & Property Management, whose founder, Nik Boone, said he was excited for the honor.

"I'm only 28 so it's been a really fast and incredible ride for me," he said.

Started in 2018, Ascend functions as a one-stop shop for investors and first-time homebuyers. Boone said the company has succeeded because of hard work and the luck that flows from it.

His said his goal is to continue to be ranked on the Inc. 5000 "for as long as possible."

NATIONAL HELP

Proforma Progressive Marketing wasn't on last year's Inc. 5000 but it has made the ranking four times before.

President and CEO Brandon Kennedy said he thinks support for clients is the main reason why the company, founded in 2004, has been able to grow sales as fast as it has.

"Our entire plan is to help service clients and to make their lives easier," he said.

Working together with a national franchise helps. He credited Proforma the franchise, with headquarters in Florida and Ohio, with offering technology and purchasing power that helps franchisees like him deliver top-quality uniforms, promotional apparel and printing services to small, locally focused companies that otherwise wouldn't have access to them.

"We're the best of both worlds where we have local service (and) local ownership but have a national presence," he said.

Kennedy added that he now has an office in Orange County, a sales team in Austin, Texas and he's working on launching another sales team in Tennessee.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf

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