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Inc. 500 Hall of Fame

Four companies join the ranks of those that keep growing, and growing, and...
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To make the Inc. 500, a company must grow at a blurring pace for five years. To gain membership in the 69-member Hall of Fame, it must continue that pace for yet five more. Clocking a decade of such growth is no small feat. This year we add four companies to the Hall of Fame. Linksys and Monitronics International become our first-ever seven-timers.

Company and location Capella Education, Minneapolis Progressive Medical, Westerville, Ohio Advantage Credit Intl., Pensacola, Fla. Franklin American Mortgage, Franklin, Tenn.
Name Stephen Shank, age 59 David C. Bianconi, age 50 Timothy Handley, age 38 Daniel G. Crockett, age 35
First job Summer job on a construction crew Pulling weeds at 5¢ an hour Selling my grandmother's surplus vegetables Wendy's, when I was 14 years old
Political affiliation Independent Republican Green Party Republican
Did you support the war in Iraq? No I supported our President. I don't support war. Yes
Favorite food Pasta--any kind Pasta with red sauce Homegrown tomatoes Steak
Biggest splurge Travel. Favorite spots are Hong Kong and China. A silver BMW Z8 I love to play golf with a caddy. Chartering a Gulfstream IV
How have you managed to grow so consistently? We compete in a market where there is a huge need. We've built close relationships with customers, and used their input to continuously improve our programs. Listening to customers and exceeding their expectations is a must. Understanding cash flow and having a very good banking relationship is also a must. My secret is that all of my colleagues' dreams and aspirations matter. I regard myself and my company as a facilitator of their dreams. That is why I have no turnover. We've been very consistent in our hiring practices. We also had a very clear mission in mind. We knew exactly where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do.
What's your best advice to other entrepreneurs? You've got to be focused on what it will take to get to the next level. Success will inevitably bring competition, so it's important to hire the best people, and to hire them in front of the growth. You must be passionate about what you are doing. Everything will take twice as long, cost twice as much, and be twice as hard. And you have to give yourself some time to be successful. Business success hinges on sales. If you don't have sales, you have no business. If bringing in sales isn't your specialty, find someone who can sell and pay them well. Define who you are, what you want to be, and what it's going to take to get there. You have to be very focused on one thing. Don't try to be a jack-of-all-trades; be a master of one.
Last updated: Oct 15, 2003




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