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Pandemic Effects Boost Private Company Sales

Among companies on the Business Journal’s list of Private Companies with the biggest increases in revenue was Lamps Plus Inc. The Chatsworth retailer of lamps, lighting fixtures and home furnishings saw its revenue rise by 166 percent in 2019 to put it at No. 13 on the list. The previous year, the company had been No. 24 with $150 million in revenue for 2018, a Business Journal estimate.

Dennis Swanson, founder and chief executive of Lamps Plus, said that growth has come this year primarily from the internet.

The coronavirus pandemic impacted the business in two ways – it pushed forward by a few years the adoption of online shopping, and the adoption of buying home furnishings online, Swanson said.

“The combination of those two things really means a big increase in business,” he added.

Lamps Plus operates 36 stores that the company owns in seven states, including California. It has about 1,300 employees.Swanson estimated that between 70 percent and 80 percent of sales are done online. That is the case even in locations that have a physical store.

“One does not cannibalize the other,” Swanson said. “The combination of the two actually generates more sales.”The company works hard to create relationships between a customer and a store’s employees by making the sales process seamless. That includes being able to directly text a sales associates in a local store.

Eric Wein, the company’s brand and communications director, said that in most chain retail configurations, a text will go to a centralized call center, whereas with Lamps Plus the text goes to the local store.

“That was something very unique for our industry,” Wein said. “You can take pictures or send videos from the store. You have an expert in the store that sees the product and it really has been successful. That started last year.” Offsite work technologyAnother company on the list that employs technology is DataDirect Networks Inc., a Chatsworth big data storage supplier. It ranked at No. 17 with $260 million in revenue, an estimate by the Business Journal.

Alex Bouzari, chief executive and co-founder at DataDirect, wrote in an email to the Business Journal that the company has seen significant growth in its global footprint and in revenue this year and last.

“Our growth can be attributed to two important developments – one that is market driven and one based on our business strategy,” Bouzari said in the email.For the former development, DataDirect solutions have been instrumental in addressing the most pressing challenges today, he explained.

The company has introduced the most autonomous work-from-home storage product which optimizes the performance for each user and mitigates the impact of pandemic-related lockdowns, he continued.“In addition, our large-scale, high-performance storage systems have played a key role in the rapid development of genomic solutions in the global fight against COVID itself,” Bouzari said in the email.

With the latter development, the company has seen growth from acquisitions it made in 2018 and 2019. The acquisitions of Tintri, Nexenta and IntelliFlash represent a strategy to bring together cutting-edge technologies under the Tintri brand, Bouzari said.

“This portfolio sets the industry standard for intelligent infrastructure, featuring the most autonomous, AI-enabled data solutions that come closest to delivering ‘hands-off’ operations,” he added.

Economic diversityHolding on to the top spot on the Private Companies list is Harbor Freight Tools USA Inc. with revenue of $5.5 billion. Staying at No. 2 spot is Dole Food Co. Inc. with revenue of $4.5 billion in 2019. In fact, the top five companies on the list are all repeats of the previous year’s list. The list is ranked by 2019 revenue.The first change comes with Galpin Motors, which dropped a spot to No. 7 with revenue of just less than $1.1 billion. Replacing it at No. 6 is Sunkist Growers Inc. with revenue of $1.2 billion.Sunkist is the oldest company on the list having been founded 128 years ago as a citrus growing co-operative. Headquartered in Valencia, the co-op has farms in California and Arizona.    Christina Ward, director of global brand marketing at Sunkist, said that consumers rediscovered a love for citrus and vitamin C this year and emphasized the importance of shelf-ability in the fresh foods they bought.

“As a result, we continue to expand our nutrition education program to build awareness of the health benefits and nutritious attributes of our fruit,” Ward said in a statement.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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