Peggy Sweeney-McDonald was honored to be invited by Diane Lyons, Owner of Access on Arrangements, to emcee the Women Presidents’ Organization’s 50 Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Companies Award Ceremony at the New Orleans Sheraton on April 24, 2014. Working with Susan Johnson, Director of Communications of the WPO, Peggy brought a “Taste of New Orleans” to the inspiring award ceremony attended by over 800 attendees.
“Best-selling author and internet food talk show host Peggy Sweeney-McDonald enthusiastically stepped in at the last minute to emcee the Women Presidents’ Organization awards ceremony, honoring Fifty Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Worldwide. A Louisiana native, she brought her local culinary star power and trademark ebullience to the stage for the 7th annual ranking of the 50 fastest.” Susan Johnson, Director of Communications, Women Presidents’ Organization.
The WPO is the premier membership organization for women presidents & CEOs (and managing directors) of privately held, multi-million dollar companies. Through global, confidential and collaborative peer-learning groups, the WPO accelerates business growth, enhances competitiveness, and promotes economic security. It is the ultimate destination for successful women entrepreneurs. The conference encourages WPO members to share business strategies and experience with other successful women from all over the world, as well as learn from interactive seminars and speakers. Additionally, it will provide potential members who qualify a unique opportunity to experience the impact the WPO has on women business owners professionally, and personally. The 50 Fastest Women Owned/Led companies honored at the award ceremony generated $4.9 billion in combined 2013 revenues and collectively employed 22,000 people. Thirty-One Gifts, a direct seller of exclusive, stylish and functional purses, totes, fashion accessories and organizing solutions, is the fastest-growing woman-led/owned company. Cindy Monroe, founder and chief executive officer, who started the company in her basement in 2003, saw her company’s revenues grow exponentially in four years, from $38 million in 2009 to $760 million in 2013. “The companies that made it onto our list this year reflect the continued resourcefulness of women-led businesses,” said Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of WPO. “We saw production soaring, with an average revenue growth of 203% from 2009 to 2013. Not only is the financial growth of these companies impressive, it shows that women entrepreneurs are making inroads in non-traditional businesses, such as information technology and transportation. The growth of these women-led companies is particularly impressive as the world economic recovery struggles to gain traction. Privately held U.S. companies on average ended 2013 with annual sales growth of 5.4%, the slowest rate of sales growth since 2009,” Dr. Firestone added. Strategic Communications, a Louisville-based provider of technology services run by Kathy Mills ranked second this year, nearly doubling the company’s revenues, from $45.4 million in 2011 to $97.3 million in 2013. WDS, Inc., an international warehousing, distribution and inventory management company, rounds out the top three. Jennifer Maier, chief executive officer and president, grew the company’s revenue from $13.2 million to $155.8 million in the past four years.
For the first time since its inception, the 2014 50 Fastest was opened to applicants on a global level, resulting in two international businesses in the top ten. Participating companies were ranked according to a sales growth formula that combines percentage and absolute growth. To be qualified for the ranking, businesses are required to be privately held, woman-owned/led companies with annual revenue of at least $500,000 by year end 2008.