Here, in addition to honoring this year's Hall of Fame Inc. 500 companies, we also celebrate the now-famous names that have graced our list over the past 17 years.
Since 1982, many of the country's most exciting companies have graced the Inc. 500 list--some more than once. A repeat appearance is no small feat, considering that the Inc. 500 measures percentage revenue growth. And for every year a business records blistering growth, it becomes more difficult for it to repeat its performance the following year. Over the years 50 companies have achieved the distinction of appearing on the Inc. 500 a staggering five times. Such an accomplishment is so extraordinary that we created an Inc. 500 Hall of Fame for the companies that achieve that honor.
With our 1999 ranking, we proudly usher three more companies into this exclusive fold and honor a new six-timer. We also take a fond look back at the household-name companies that earned their first brush with fame on the Inc. 500. They may not have earned a berth in the Hall of Fame, but they are clearly all-stars for what they have achieved after appearing on our list. Makes you wonder which of this year's companies might someday be as famous as the one run by onetime Inc. 500 CEO Bill Gates.
1982: The Sharper Image
ORIGINAL HITS: The first Inc. 500 was published in 1982, but the year before that we published something of a forerunner: a list of the 100 fastest-growing privately held U.S. companies. On that list: Charles Schwab and DHL Worldwide Express.
1983: Domino's Pizza, Oracle, Timberland
DELIVERING ON A NEW PROMISE: For years, Domino's front man Tom Monaghan offered his customers fresh pizzas within half an hour--or they'd be free. Today he's focusing on delivering something a little more lofty: a dose of morality to budding lawyers. About a year ago Monaghan sold his majority interest in his private pizza empire to Bain Capital for a reported price tag of nearly $1 billion. Now he's spending $50 million of his fortune to fund the creation of a new Catholic law school in Ann Arbor, Mich. "I want to set the standard, set the example, because students believe what they see," Monaghan told the Associated Press.
INNER LIFE: Able to boast ownership of a Gulfstream 5 jet and a Bentley convertible, Larry Ellison has acquired the reputation as one of Silicon Valley's most robust grown-up "toy" collectors. But the charismatic founder of Oracle, who at press time had a personal net worth of more than $13 billion, has another, softer interest: Japanese landscape design. Ellison is expected to spend nearly $60 million on construction of a 23-acre Japanese-style home--his third residence.
1984: Microsoft, Lost Arrow (now Patagonia), U.S. Robotics
EVERYONE'S A CRITIC: Many viewers enjoyed the TNT channel's original film Pirates of Silicon Valley, starring former Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall as software pioneer Bill Gates. But one person who didn't care much for the movie was Gates himself. "That was not a factual portrayal," the $103-billion man said at an August conference for Dell Computer Corp., according to an account in Infoworld. "Maybe I'm too close to what actually happened, but I hope someday someone can capture that exciting time more accurately."
1985: Broderbund, Jiffy Lube International, the Staubach Co., Super 8 Motels
THE QUARTERBACK--ON MONDAY MORNING: Roger Staubach, the famed Dallas Cowboys quarterback, built a $130-million real estate business in the years following his football stardom. This four-time Inc. 500 winner has recently been stumping in support of George W. Bush's White House bid. In August he was the star attraction in Ames, Iowa, as he cheered the Texas governor on to victory in the Iowa straw poll. Says Staubach: "I am proud to be a part of his team."
1986: Bertucci's, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Newbury Comics
1987: Merry Maids, WordPerfect
1988: Jenny Craig, Princeton Review, West Coast Video
FIT FOR LIFE: Prior to serving as CEO of his wife's eponymous business--the chain of publicly traded weight-loss centers--Sid Craig was part of a group that bought the Arthur Murray Dance Studios. Craig sold his stake in the dance studio in 1969 and then founded a chain of women's fitness centers called Body Contour Inc. He met Jenny, who was working at the company, and the two were married in 1979. When later selling Body Contour, they agreed to a noncompete clause for all of North America. So the Craigs moved to Australia, where the Jenny Craig brand was born.