The 2014 list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Retailers speaks volumes about what it takes to succeed in an incredibly fast-changing sector today. Among the 23 companies in the industry that made the 2014 PROFIT 500 ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, you’ll find some traditional bricks-and-mortar storefronts whose savviness and innovation have allowed them to thrive while others floundered. But you’ll also find some inventive e-tailers who sell only through online storefronts and franchisors working to become household names (if they aren’t already).

What unites these companies (aside from their consumer-facing raison d’être) is their rapid growth. Canada’s Fastest-Growing Retailers had five-year revenue growth of 3,951%; on average, the 23 companies on this ranking grew sales by 687% during that same period. These aren’t exactly mom-and-pop shops (at least, not any more): the average company sold nearly $55 million in 2013 alone, and together, the companies contributed $1.2 billion to Canada’s GDP last year. In the process, they employed the equivalent of 2,332 full-time employees—1,939 of which were in jobs that didn’t exist five years ago.

These are just a few of the reasons Canada’s Fastest-Growing Retailers are worth celebrating. And there are so many more. Read on for more on these dynamic storefronts, including some of the best business advice the leaders of the Top 10 have to offer:

The top 10:

1. Buytopia

Five-year revenue growth: 3,951% (PROFIT 500 rank: 11)
Chief executive(s): Ryan Marien
Full-time equivalent (FTE) employees: 29
Sells discounted consumer goods through an online store and daily deal e-mails

How to find who’s buying: “Effective customer acquisition is the biggest challenge in our industry,” says Marien. “We’ve solved it by targeting niche groups through partnerships and careful advertising testing to reduce cost-per-customer and increase lifetime value.”

2. KapscoMoto

Pickering, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 1,892% (PROFIT 500 rank: 33)
Chief executive(s): Chris Kapsalakis
FTE employees: 9
Sells motorcycle accessories

How to out-price the giants: “Our company model is to contract directly with overseas manufacturers,” explains Kapsalakis. “This strategy allows us to cut our costs substantially by removing any middleman fees thereby allowing us to price our products at a fraction of the cost of the big box stores. Although these low prices are the primary force that attracts customers, our commitment to excellence in after-sales service keeps customers returning to our online store.”

3. Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Richmond, B.C.
Five-year revenue growth: 1,512% (PROFIT 500 rank: 39)
Chief executive(s): Justin Lussier, Jason Allard & Christian Bullock
FTE employees: 19
Pizza franchise network

How to find a growth niche: “The decision to start the company was inspired by a trip to Naples that I took with my wife, in which we enjoyed eating authentic Neapolitan pizza,” says Lussier. “My partners and I looked at the pizza landscape in Canada and we realized then, in North America, authentic Neapolitan pizza wasn’t really being done. Only in a few places in the States were doing it. The product is basically, we believe, the best pizza in the world, and it cooks in 90 seconds. We thought it was a great opportunity to bring a better pizza to the market and try to redefine the North American pizzeria.”

4. D&D Vehicle Sales Inc.

Camrose, Alta.
Five-year revenue growth: 1,415% (PROFIT 500 rank: 44)
Chief executive(s): David Drever & David Nigh
FTE employees: 25
Sells, leases and rents cars, trucks, trailers and automotive equipment

How to take a local business national (and beyond): D&D is a local dealership no more: “Internet advertising and social media have enabled us to extend our reach and sell our products all over Canada,” explains Drever. “Even though we are located in a smaller centre we are able to instantly showcase our brand and products all over Canada—and on a reasonable budget, too.”

5. Néron Inc.

Five-year revenue growth: 1,326% (PROFIT 500 rank: 47)
Chief executive(s): Caroline Néron
FTE employees: 106
Designs and sells jewelry

How to make your storefront stand out: “Worldwide, retail businesses are dropping down, because people have new ways of consuming,” explains Néron. “Having a good website and being user-friendly for the customers is one big thing, of course. But it’s also important to constantly generate new ideas for marketing and promotion. People love our promotions; they love to get a gift with what they buy from us. I feel we’re very creative in the way we’re exposing our products to people, and that’s helped us.”

6. ECS Coffee Inc.

Burlington, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 1,026% (PROFIT 500 rank: 69)
Chief executive(s): Neil Madden
FTE employees: 45
Sells coffee equipment and supplies

How to diversify what you sell: “The most exciting thing to happen to us in the past year is the launch of our own private label products,” explains Madden. “We’re working with roasters and manufacturers. It’s about having a unique position in the market and products others can’t have. The customer reaction so far has been good.”

7. Spa Boutique Ltd.

Five-year revenue growth: 898% (PROFIT 500 rank: 86)
Chief executive(s): Nancy Mudford
FTE employees: 27
Sells high-end spa products

How to make your firm a slacker-free zone: “We’re very careful in our hiring process,” says Mudford. “We always make sure there are three interviews. The first might be over the phone, the second is a 45-minute interview, the third would be a team interview to make sure they’re going to be a good fit into our culture. As much as it takes time, we go through that process to make sure we have success.”

8. Snuggle Bugz

Burlington, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 548% (PROFIT 500 rank: 114)
Chief executive(s): Ben Burmaster
FTE employees: 33
Sells baby products through two retail outlets and an online storefront

How to create a remarkable shopping experience: “We are a new breed of retailer who uses multiple purchase and marketing channels to stay in contact with our customer base, allowing them to purchase and be part of our community wherever life takes them at that moment,” says Burmaster. “Using partnerships, technology, integration and an extreme focus on the customer we are able to deliver an unparalleled experience.”

9. HockeyShot

Scoudouc, N.B.
Five-year revenue growth: 537% (PROFIT 500 rank: 116)
Chief executive(s): Paul Brun, J-P Brun & Christian Gautreau
FTE employees: 13
Sells hockey training and skill-building products

How to get the word out: Getting people to come to HockeyShot’s niche e-tail site was not always easy—at least, until management came up with a pretty enticing carrot. “We put out free training videos,” says Brun. “It brought traffic to our site and built a lot of loyalty. So we’re always producing new videos to kept the young players coming to our site. If you give people something free online, it brings them in.”

10. Blush Lane Organic Market Ltd.

Five-year revenue growth: 489% (PROFIT 500 rank: 121)
Chief executive(s): Robert Horricks & Matthew Paulson
FTE employees: 53
Organic retail grocer and farmer

How to creatively finance your expansion: “Because we’ve been growing our need for capital has been happening in large jumps; to start a store requires big investment,” says Horricks. “Our business is low margin and high volume. The bank has been handy and we have also had landlords and suppliers work with us. Our first landlord has offered to invest in our company and help open more stores. Our second landlord gave us a loan for our equipment. These guys helped, because they wanted us into their locations. It’s been a group effort.”

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13 other fast-growing retailers on the 2014 PROFIT 500:


11. Maplelea

Newmarket, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 340% (PROFIT 500 rank: 177)
Chief executive(s): Kathryn Gallagher Morton
FTE employees: 7
Designs and sells Canadian-themed dolls

12. RobotShop Distribution Inc.

Mirabel, Que.
Five-year revenue growth: 319% (PROFIT 500 rank: 186)
Chief executive(s): Mario Tremblay & Sandra Fradet
FTE employees: 22
Distributes robots and related technology

13. CNF Marketing Inc.

Five-year revenue growth: 271% (PROFIT 500 rank: 212)
Chief executive(s): Cory Frank
FTE employees: 8
Sells luxury outerwear and home accents made with real fur, leather and sheepskin

14. Saje Natural Business Inc.

Five-year revenue growth: 267% (PROFIT 500 rank: 213)
Chief executive(s): Kate LeBlanc
FTE employees: 135
Manufactures and sells alternative therapeutic pharmaceutical products

15. Rocky Mountain Liquor Inc.

Five-year revenue growth: 186% (PROFIT 500 rank: 290)
Chief executive(s): Peter Byrne
FTE employees: 173
Operates retail liquor stores

16. Cervus Equipment Corp.

Five-year revenue growth: 158% (PROFIT 500 rank: 317)
Chief executive(s): Graham Drake
FTE employees: 1,300
Operates agricultural, commercial, industrial and transportation equipment dealerships

17. Brownlee Equipment Corp.

Earlton, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 132% (PROFIT 500 rank: 353)
Chief executive(s): Brian Brownlee
FTE employees: 18
Sells, services and provides parts for agricultural and industrial equipment

18. Cindy’s Home & Garden

Kingsville, Ont.
Five-year revenue growth: 112% (PROFIT 500 rank: 380)
Chief executive(s): Kenneth Martin & Christine Martin
FTE employees: 25
Sells home decor and gifts focused on outdoors and gardening

19. FXR Racing Inc.

Oak Bluff, Man.
Five-year revenue growth: 107% (PROFIT 500 rank: 388)
Chief executive(s): Milton Reimer
FTE employees: 58
Manufactures and distributes snowmobile, outdoor, motorcycle and ATV apparel and accessories

20. Mr. Pet’s Ltd.

North Vancouver, B.C.
Five-year revenue growth: 98% (PROFIT 500 rank: 403)
Chief executive(s): Greg Penno
FTE employees: 63
Pet and pet-supply store chain

21. Paramount Parts Inc.

Fort McMurray, Alta.
Five-year revenue growth: 91% (PROFIT 500 rank: 416)
Chief executive(s): Brent Usick
FTE employees: 78
Sells automotive and heavy-duty parts

22. Rack Petroleum Ltd.

Biggar, Sask.
Five-year revenue growth: 77% (PROFIT 500 rank: 438)
Chief executive(s): Dennis Bulani
FTE employees: 60
Sells fuel, fertilizer and chemicals

23. The Garage Door Depot

Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Five-year revenue growth: 51% (PROFIT 500 rank: 490)
Chief executive(s): Dean Carman & Dennis Keeling
FTE employees: 26
Sales, service and installation of garage doors, openers and related products

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