The last 10 years began with a national tragedy and was capped with a financial meltdown. Here's a look back and a hopeful look forward.
The bars on this chart reflect the total growth for each industry (2009 revenue for all companies assigned to that industry, divided by the total 2006 revenue for those companies.) The scale of the late 2000s real-estate bubble is enough to propel that industry into the top position (for another year at least.)
This is where the magic happens for five fast-growing Inc. 500 finalists.
Advertising and Marketing: WDFA Marketing
WDFA Marketing, under the leadership of CEO Raj Prasad, has grown over 13,969 percent in just three years.
Business Products and Services: Listen Up Espanol
Portland-based Listen Up Espanol, a call center for Spanish-speaking customers, is cashing in on the Latin population boom.
Computer Hardware: Maxlinear
Maxlinear CEO Kishore Seendripu took bootstrapping to the next level by recruiting seven founders to work for free.
Construction: Direct Exteriors
Direct Exteriors President Mike McAlpin devised an algorithm for where disasters will strike so he can be there to clean up the mess.
Consumer Products and Services: Scentsy
With 8,094 percent growth in three years, the sudden success of wickless candle company Scentsy saved it's founders from bankruptcy.
FortuneBuilders CEO Than Merrill shares his trade secrets on the A&E series Flip This House, where he restores distressed properties.
Engineering: Appareo Systems
Appareo Systems grew 1,752 percent over three years designing and building electronic devices for the aviation industry.
Environmental Services: Cleanscapes
Cleanscapes President Chris Martin took cleaning up the streets of Seattle very seriously, eventually landing a $36 million deal with the city.
Financial Services: Debt Free Associates
What recession? Debt Free Associates, which grew over 12,376 percent in three years, is one of a few companies that look forward to a downturn.
Food and Beverage: Signature Foods
Signature Foods carved out a niche by packaging frozen food for small, third-party manufacturers, earning $28 million in revenue in 2009.
Government Services: Luke & Associates
Growing 16,636 percent in three years, Luke & Associates staffs Army- and Airforce-base hospitals and clinics with doctors and nurses.
Health: Physicians' Pharmaceutical
With $8.7 million in revenue in 2009 and 9,307 in three-year growth, Physicians' Pharmaceutical helps doctors set up in-house pharmacies.
Human Resources: Pursuit of Excellence
As CEO of Pursuit of Excellence Marie Diaz coaches clients on leadership and organizational development.
QuoteWizard allows customers to shop around for insurance coverage, growing 5,951 percent over three years.
IT Services: Carbonite
By selling unlimited online backup space for personal computers Carbonite grew 11,208 percent in three years, earning $19.1 million in revenue.
Logistics and Transportation: Coyote Logistics
Coyote Logistics CEO Jeffrey Silver implemented backhauling to make his trucking company more efficient and productive.
Manufacturing: Intergroup International
A devastating fire was hardly a setback for Intergroup International CEO Neil Gloger, who still managed to grow the company 1,285 percent in three years.
Blurb CEO Eileen Gittins started her own publishing company, giving individuals the power to self-publish books.
Real Estate: Platinum Realty
Bootstrapping CEO Scott DeNeve survived when the housing bubble burst by cramming into a small office and keeping debts to zero.
Modcloth, run by a husband and wife team, is a website that sells vintage clothing and drew in $15.6 million in 2009.
Lifelock CEO Todd Davis gave out his Social Security number to demonstrate his confidence in his identity theft prevention company.
Serial entrepreneur Andy Monin created the Vendormate software to help health care facilities manage vendors, earning $10.7 million in 2009.
Founder Ken Hood created Clearaccess to assist broadband service providers with managing customers and devices, growing 3.460 percent in the process.
Growing 1,055 percent in three years and earning $3.7 million in 2009, SaveOnResorts.com helps resorts sell time shares for discounted rates.