STRATEGY

The Inner City 100 Profiles: 1-10

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NO. 1 Commodity Sourcing Group

Detroit
Supply-chain management

G 10,028.3% R $21.1 million E 54

With the aid of its online logistics system, elegantly labeled Caviar, Commodity Sourcing Group acts as middleman between hospitals and their vendors. For more, see The No. 1 Company: Commodity Sourcing Group.

NO. 2 Piston Group

Detroit
Automotive supply

G 3,530.6% R $235.5 million E 330

Former NBA star Vinnie Johnson still gives Detroiters something to cheer about. In 11 years since launching the Piston Group at the behest of a General Motors executive, Johnson has created hundreds of jobs and leveraged work force development grants to train unskilled local people in manufacturing and business. The company, which specializes in modular assembly (it supplies, for example, brake corner modules and strut modules), has expanded its capabilities through joint ventures.

NO. 3 Miscor Group

South Bend, Indiana
Industrial repair and manufacturing

G 3,412.8% R $28.9 million E 268

Miscor Group, formerly Magnetech, is the kind of rock-ribbed manufacturing business that once powered places like South Bend. John Martell didn't exactly buy the company; he bought a group of assets that he then assembled into Miscor, which does repair work in large automotive, steel, and energy plants as well as manufacturing and remanufacturing electromagnets, motors, engines, and generators. Miscor has collected plaudits for its ambitious 8,800-hour apprenticeship program.

NO. 4 Mosaica Education

New York City
Charter schools

G 3,078% R $91.6 million E 1,300

Charter schools remain near the top of some education reformers' agendas, and Mosaica remains near the top of the IC 100 list. (Last year it was No. 1.) Launched in 1997 and led since 1998 by CEO Michael Connelly, Mosaica employs a humanities-based curriculum called Paragon. Mosaica operates 70 publicly funded schools in the United States--most located in inner cities--and in the Middle East.

NO. 5 Talon/LPE

Amarillo, Texas
Environmental consulting

G 2,349.1% R $11.8 million E 93

David Prescott's family has a long history of cleaning up messes. In 1934, his great-great-grandfather started Western Uniform and Towel, an industrial laundry that spread to nine states. The laundry's former Amarillo, Texas, headquarters now houses Talon/LPE, an environmental remediation firm founded by Prescott and Terry James in 1997 when their employer went bankrupt. (In 2000, Kyle Burt and Jeff Chado joined as partners.) Talon analyzes and cleans ground water contaminated by chemicals at sites ranging from gas stations (the bulk of the company's work) to nuclear weapons facilities. Wherever possible, Talon eschews subcontractors--"We always want to pay ourselves instead of somebody else," says Prescott--and to that end it has snapped up the assets of several other environmental firms, including drilling rigs, vacuum trucks, and engineering talent. But Prescott isn't interested in getting too big. Amarillo is home, and he expects to spend the rest of his working life in this old laundry.

NO. 6 Intercosmos Media Group

New Orleans
Domain registration and site hosting

G 2,346.4% R $22.7 million E 64

Intercosmos saw Hurricane Katrina coming and never shut down during or after the storm. Another thing it was prepared for: competition in the domain-name-registration business. Domain-name sales now represent the lion's share of the company's revenue.

NO. 7 LatiNode

Miami
VoIP telecom carrier

G 2,138.7% R $71.4 million E 86

As an entrepreneur selling software in Latin America in the 1990s, Jorge Granados was frustrated by the high cost of international calls. So he experimented with a then-new technology--voice over Internet protocol--to cut his own business costs. Granados launched LatiNode with loans from Cisco Systems and from family and friends, and quickly snagged a contract with TelecomColombia. Today LatiNode serves 18 countries and supports 3 percent of the world's VoIP traffic.

NO. 8 Dynetech

Orlando
Business process outsourcing

G 1,812.4% R $134.9 million E 358

Larry Pino was an authority and lecturer on the subject of cash flow before starting Dynetech, which he did in 2000, partly to get off the road and spend more time with family. His company helps start-ups get products to market, corporations move into new markets, and businesses of all sizes host splashy and effective sales events.

NO. 9 ITSXpress

Long Island City, New York
Global air and ground shipping

G 1,559.6% R $3.9 million E 15

U.S. companies generally attack the domestic market before expanding globally. Ricardo Reyes reversed that strategy. Reyes, who started in the industry as a truck driver, launched I.T.S. as an international shipper; today half his business is domestic. The company's customer base includes the NFL, Major League Baseball, and NBC.

NO. 10 Bare Necessities

Newark, New Jersey
Intimate apparel retail

G 1,467.4% R $12 million E 28

When Noah Wrubel decided to sell lingerie, he had--wait for it--plenty of support. Wrubel's father and uncle had founded the Corset Shop, a boutique bra retailer, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1969. Wrubel and a partner came up with the idea of taking the family business online, which they did in 1997. For those who like trying before buying there are also four Bare Necessities stores.

Last updated: Jun 1, 2006

LEIGH BUCHANAN | Staff Writer | Editor-at-large, Inc. Magazine

Leigh Buchanan is an editor-at-large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture.




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