Frustrated by the poor treatment he received while trying to buy a home, Victor Roman started this real estate brokerage with the goal of providing fair and friendly service to Connecticut's Hispanic community. Roman counsels first-time homebuyers on everything from the importance of establishing a good credit rating to how to fill out a mortgage application.
Maya Viz has landed in Iraq. The United States Army's First Cavalry Division uses Maya Viz's software to maintain communication between commanders and units in the field. To implement the project, Maya Viz sent 10 staffers to Baghdad (without incident). Says owner Steven Roth: "How does it feel to come in in the morning and know what you are working on is heading to Baghdad to protect some young soldier? The sense of responsibility and excitement has changed the culture."
Upon moving back home to Denver from Hawaii, where he worked for a file storage business, Bowen Banbury discovered that his father had a lease on two vacant floors in a downtown office building. He thought to himself: "This place is perfect for storage." Nine years later, Banbury's document and data management company houses more than a million boxes in seven offices. And if what you need is the opposite of storage, DocuVault offers high-volume shredding.
Mark Shay's company runs how-to websites aimed at students, such as StudyAbroad.com. The firm recently moved into a two-story high-tech building that was erected as part of a local effort to attract companies to Chester, a depressed manufacturing city. "The building is spectacular," says Shay, who has hired 15 new employees since the move. "It's so out of place amidst the crumbling row houses."
Donna Jackson and Margie Smigel established their reputation in Chicago real estate by working with developers on the city's poor South Side. These days, the partners handle listings all over the city -- from multimillion-dollar mansions to $200,000 lofts. They handle every aspect of selling a property, including appraisals, "staging" a home for an open house, and arranging financing; in some cases they even cover up-front expenses for sellers. Last year, they created a radio show, a kind of Car Talk for homeowners.
Extreme Pizza is a franchised restaurant chain with close to 30 locations in six states, mostly on the West Coast. The company offers sit-down dining, delivery, and a "take-n-bake" product line, not to mention envelope-pushing toppings like Canadian bacon and black beans. Founder Todd Parent is now considering adding a wholesale division.
Santa Ana, Calif.
The name conjures images of delicate china and precious jewels. Instead, High End Products sells motorcycle seats with names like Buttcrack and the Biatcha Pad, which suctions onto the back of a bike to make room for a second passenger. The seats start at about $150 and can be customized with extras such as purple flames and elaborate stitching. High End Products is one of Harley-Davidson's top new suppliers.
Niman Ranch buys meat from family farms, not factories, then butchers and packages it in the Bay Area. Niman Ranch delivers the meat to restaurant chains and markets like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods, and also to individuals. "They may not have time to make the trips out to rural family farms, but they are interested in fair trade and organic farming practices," says CEO and co-founder Mike McConnell.
New York City
Cynergy Data processes an annual $1.6 billion worth of electronic financial transactions -- credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and whatever the technology brings next. Partners John Martillo and Marcelo Paladini plan to accelerate the company's growth through partnerships and acquisitions.
Last winter Brett Hatton secured $6.8 million in financing from JPMorgan Chase for his furniture-importing company. He used the cash to stop factoring (the company now has the staff to handle receivables management in-house), hire a new CFO and COO, and open an office in Brussels.