Wichita's iSi moves up on 2010 Inner 100 list

Wichita's iSi Environmental Services has earned its second national recognition this year, this time from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

The company is No. 23 on their Inner 100 list of the fastest-growing inner city companies in the United States. The list recognizes successful companies and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices and job creation in America's urban communities.

Earlier this year, iSi was one of 75 companies nationwide chosen for the U.S. Chamber's Blue Ribbon Small Business Award. It is based on staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service, and business strategies and goals.

The Inner 100 awards were announced Wednesday night in Boston.

Gary Mason, CEO of iSi, said it's the second year the company has been on the list. Last year, it was No. 58.

"They're trying to encourage business to operate within the inner cities to help improve the inner cities," he said.

His company is at 215 S. Laura, in a building it purchased 3 1/2 years ago, then gutted and remodeled.

To qualify for the Inner 100 list, companies were required to have at least 51 percent of their operations located in an economically distressed urban area; have at least 10 full-time employees; and have a five-year operating sales history that includes at least $200,000 in revenue in the first year of consideration, an increase in sales in the fifth year over the fourth year, and fifth-year sales of at least $1 million.

"We are delighted to celebrate businesses like iSi Environmental Services that are playing a critical role in revitalizing America's urban communities," said Mary Kay Leonard, ICIC president and CEO.

Over the past five years, Mason said, iSi has grown from about 25 employees to about 130.

Its growth and diversification got a kick-start with the start of Spirit AeroSystems, Mason said, with iSi taking on waste management and industrial cleaning that Boeing used to do in-house. Now, "We've expanded that service throughout south-central Kansas and the rest of Kansas."

Mason said iSi opened its office in Liberal to help service "gas plants, power plants, ethanol plants, things like that in western Kansas." An office probably will be opened in Tulsa in the near future. "We have some contracts down there. We just haven't put full-time staffing down there yet."

He said iSi will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this month.