FEMBI named one of the fastest growing companies in South Florida – #6

Fastest-Growing Companies

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Date: Friday, June 10, 2011, 6:00am EDT

Welcome to the South Florida Business Journal’s first Fastest-Growing Companies special report. In a still-bumpy economy, we hope these companies will help provide inspiration to the region’s businesses in general.

We turned to Research Director Amy Limbert to come up with the 50 fastest-growing companies in the region.

When we were brainstorming ideas for the section, we decided to invite leaders of these companies to submit their suggestions on how to grow rapidly. We figured those who have experienced rapid growth would have some great ideas to share.

Many of these companies are familiar to regular readers, but we’ve also included additional information on some less-familiar names and others who were standouts among their revenue peers.

One caveat, though: The list is purely driven by revenue, and not necessarily a reflection of company profitability. Consider this the busiuness equvalent of muscle cars racing down the highway.

6. First Equity Mortgage Bankers

Daniel Rodriguez, President

From its early days in 1997 as the “no equity mortgage company,” First Equity Mortgage Bankers First Equity Mortgage Bankers Latest from The Business Journals Following – or FEMBi – has grown to handle origination of government and conventional first mortgage loans.

Along the way, the company expanded its lending operations to Puerto Rico, where it currently is the exclusive on-site lender for numerous residential developments. The Builders Association of South Florida named FEMBi 2006 Mortgage Lender of the Year. It consistently ranks among the top 500 U.S. Hispanic businesses and in the top 5 percent for gross revenue by Hispanic Business.

The company’s flexibility amid changing markets has made it a leader in its category and among other businesses, Rodriguez says. When times are good, anyone can prosper. It’s what leadership does when its industry is struck by extended slow periods that define its ability to thrive – and even survive, he says.

“In order to succeed in any business, you must have the ability to recognize changes in the market and be willing to make uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, decisions and sacrifices,” he says. “For over 10 years, the real estate market boomed, and virtually every company in a real estate related business was doing extremely well. When the market soured, very few people expected it, and far fewer had prepared for the rough years that followed. The lesson learned is to never rest on your laurels. During good times, prudent business leaders should set aside time and funds in order to prepare to survive the inevitable business cycles.”

What protected FEMBi from the slide – and what can other executives do to protect businesses from slow times? Stay market-savvy, open to changes and diligent in surveying the landscape, Rodriguez says.

“Never allow yourself to become complacent,” he says. “I think it’s important to continuously explore opportunities to improve the service or product your business offers and, at the same time, keep a vigilant eye for any potential risks.”