Company: Network Hardware Resale Inc. Year founded: 1986 Quiet period: Six years Turning point: Founder's abandoning his political career
Although Chuck Sheldon founded Strand Computer Resale, now called Network Hardware Resale (#93 on the 2000 Inc. 500), in 1986, his heart wasn't in the business. What excited him was the politics of his adopted hometown, the scenic Los Angeles suburb of Hermosa Beach. That's where he and his wife, Missy, and their two sons had settled in 1978 after a nomadic life of moving from city to city while Sheldon worked as a marketing manager and planner for IBM.
Sheldon had quickly established himself as a civic leader in Hermosa Beach. A Republican, he won a seat on the city council in 1987 and served as mayor in 1990 and 1991, but soon he'd had enough of political life. He shifted all his energy to his business, then a semidormant reseller of used computer hardware, such as IBM computers and Codex modems. He refocused the company on network hardware, including Cisco and Lucent products.
In 1994, Sheldon hired his younger son, John, as his top deputy. Since then the company's revenues have soared -- they are projected to reach $20 million this year. Sheldon has relocated Network Hardware's offices to Goleta, Calif., some 100 miles from Hermosa Beach. Although the former mayor is keeping a home in his beloved Hermosa Beach, he is building a second house closer to the office.
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman