Woo Hoo! Top 50 Women-Led Companies In US

women-high-fliers.jpgA supply-chain management company from Edison, N.J., has been ranked the No. 1 fastest-growing women-led company in the U.S., according to an annual ranking by trade group Women Presidents' Organization.

Argent Associates Inc., which specializes in the telecommunications industry, posted $115 million in annual revenues in 2009, a jump from $9.2 million in 2007. Founder Beatriz Manetta attributes the growth spurt, noteworthy in an otherwise stagnant economy, to an increase in clients' imports from China and India that are assembled in her warehouses.

WPO, a trade group for multimillion-dollar women-owned businesses, determined its third annual Top 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies list using a formula that combines percentage revenue growth and absolute growth. To be eligible for the list, companies must be privately owned, women-owned or led, and have generated at least $2 million by year-end 2009, among other criteria. About 400 companies applied for inclusion on the list.

Two companies cleared $200 million in annual revenues, the most of any on the list. No. 3, Artech Information Systems LLC, a Cedar Knolls, N.J., provider of information technology and project-management services to corporate clients, is run by Ranjini Poddar. No. 5, TransPerfect Translations International Inc., a New York provider of language services, is led by Elizabeth Elting.

 Marsha Firestone, WPO's founder and president, says the group began compiling the rankings three years ago in an effort to dispel the notion that female-led companies are primarily mom-and-pop operations in "retail, cookie-making or crafts." Most on the list are business-to-business companies, many in traditionally male-dominated fields such as transportation, construction, manufacturing and distributing, she says.

The list comes at a time when women-owned firms have grown in number but still lag behind male counterparts in terms of revenue. The number of female-owned companies grew 125% between 1982 and 2002, and women currently own 10.1 million firms or about 40% of all private companies in the U.S., according to the Center for Women's Business Research. Only 3% of all women-owned firms have revenues of $1 million or more, compared with 6% of men-owned firms, the center estimates.

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By Colleen Debaise
The The Wall Street Journal

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