Meet the 2016 PROFIT 500

What does it take to build one of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies? 39 facts about the companies on our annual list of the country's rapidly-expanding firms and the entrepreneurs behind them

Written by Deborah Aarts

The 2016 PROFIT 500 are awesomesauce. Want proof? The companies on this year’s list grew sales by an average of 686%219%, for you nerds). It’s pretty impressive, considering that over the same period, Canada’s GDP shrunk by close to 4%.

Some winners got here by selling really cool stuff, like deluxe knives (Knifewear, No. 123), family-friendly video games (Big Blue Bubble, No. 131) and ultralight wheelchairs (Motion Composites, No. 91). Far more trade in less glam—but equally lucrative—fields: 44% of companies on the ranking provide services to other businesses.

All told, the 2016 PROFIT 500 contributed $13.9 billion75$27.8 millionMore than half of PROFIT 500 firms had sales of less than $10 million last year.

Baby-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-100x100As businesses, they’re generally pretty young: 30%69%No. 493)—started in 1894 as a horse-and-buggy hauling outfit. (The fifth generation of Campbell family members is now working for the business).

UK_US_Flags-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-125x125Fully 62%$4.6 billion96%43%16 winners report having clients in every major export market.

Coins-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-125x125.jpgThey’re a largely self-financed lot: 71%13%59%1 PROFIT 500 firm claimed to use crowdfunding.

Help_Wanted-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-100x100You want jobs? PROFIT 500 companies created 30,1801210 firms hired at least two new people every week over the past five years (let’s hope their HR managers got raises).

Dragons_Den-PROFIT_500_Crawler-Pickup-125x125Several winners approached—and impressed—high-profile financiers: All 93Dragons’ Den effect!”

CEOs-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-125x125Who’s running these firms? Well, it’s mostly dudes: Only 19%70%5% were born after 1984, the year PROFIT 500 alumnus BlackBerry launched.

Graduate_Cap-PROFIT_500_Crawler-iStock-125x125.jpgAs entrepreneurs, they’re not new at this game: 67%725%43%15%17% are school-of-lifers.

There are benefits to being your own boss: The average PROFIT 500 CEO took home $301,9375421$107—10 times Canada’s minimum wage.

Steve_Jobs-Richard_Branson-PROFIT_500_Crawler-Shutterstock_Getty-125x125Which titans of industry inspire these ambitious entrepreneurs? Many winners cited a parent as a role model, along with usual suspects Steve JobsElon MuskRichard Branson (“really decent guy achieves outrageous success? I like that story”).

Howard_Stern-Tom_Waits-PROFIT_500_Crawler-Shutterstock_Getty-125x125Other winners had more creative business heroes, including EminemHoward SternAyn RandTom WaitsDr. SeussDonald Trump. One refreshingly candid winner put no stock in idolatry: “Who inspires me? No one really, except myself.”

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