Argan of Rockville completed its $12 million acquisition of Vitarich Laboratories of Naples, Fla., and is looking at other companies in the alternative medicine and herbal products market.

Argan is a holding company run by Rainer H. Bosselmann, H. Haywood Miller III and Arthur F. Trudel Jr. They previously headed a Rockville holding company, Arguss Communications, which built and serviced telecommunications networks. Arguss Communications was sold to Dycom Industries in February 2002 for $149 million in stock and debt.

In January 2003, the three joined Puroflow, with Bosselmann named vice chairman. They sold Puroflow's business -- making filtration products for aviation and automotive companies -- and changed Puroflow's name to Argan. To generate enough cash flow to cover overhead, they bought Southern Maryland Cable, which provides wiring services to telecommunications companies, utilities and the government, said Miller, Argan's executive vice president.

Miller, Bosselmann, who is chairman and chief executive, and Trudel, the chief financial officer, went looking for a new sector to invest in. "We loved online education," Miller said. "But we got in too late. The prices just got crazy. And for good reason. It's a good business." He said they also considered commodity products for the life sciences industry.

But then they discovered the nutraceutical industry, in which sales were growing. The industry contains numerous small companies that produce dietary supplements, natural health care products and alternative medicines. Miller says federal regulators are expected to begin tightening manufacturing practices, and Argan is betting that larger firms will be better able to absorb the cost of stricter rules.

Vitarich's revenue was about $17 million over the past 12 months, compared with $7 million in calendar year 2000.


* AES, a global power company based in Arlington, said it is making an equity investment in US Wind Force as part of an effort to expand into the U.S. wind market. AES declined to give a price on the deal. A spokeswoman said it was a minority investment worth less than $25 million.

US Wind Force, a private company, has "wind farm" projects in West Virginia, western Maryland and Pennsylvania. "We see a lot of potential in wind as a new and expanding source of electricity here in the United States and in other OECD countries," said Paul T. Hanrahan, AES president and chief executive. "This is a natural extension of our existing generation business."


* United BioSource, a Washington company formed last year, acquired B&B Clinical Innovations, a privately held provider of late-stage clinical development services for pharmaceutical companies. BBCI is the latest in a series of acquisitions United BioSource has made since it raised $153 million from a syndicate of private equity firms. United BioSource has been acquiring companies that provide product development and commercialization services to pharmaceutical and life sciences companies. BBCI's headquarters will remain in Kansas City, Mo.

* The nation's accounting firms are making higher revenue and profits, according to Inside Public Accounting's annual analysis. Fees at the nation's largest firms increased by an average of 7.8 percent and profits rose 11.5 percent, largely because of higher rates driven by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Washington area firms on the top 100 list include Reznick, Fedder & Silverman of Bethesda, which ranked 20, with net revenue of $90 million, 25 percent higher than 2003; Aronson of Rockville, with net revenue of $29.5 million, up 8.8 percent; Beers & Cutler of Vienna with net revenue of $24.6 percent, up 12 percent; and Watkins Meegan Drury of Bethesda, with net revenue of $20 million, up 9 percent.


* Jos. A. Bank Clothiers of Hampstead said its total sales for August rose 25.3 percent to $21.8 million, compared with $17.4 million in August of 2003. Comparable store sales increased 6.4 percent over the same month last year. Combined catalogue and Internet sales rose 35.1 percent. The company said sales for almost all major product categories rose in August.

* Dialysis Corporation of America of Linthicum completed its purchase of Keystone Kidney Care, which has two facilities in Pennsylvania. The company owns and operates freestanding kidney hemodialysis centers in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. It also provides in-hospital dialysis services to some hospitals in those states.

A magazine advertising layout produced by Vitarich Laboratories of Naples, Fla.