Long Beach, California Dog food manufacturing and sales
G 187.8% R $16.9 million E 100
Not all dogs do new tricks, but most like new treats. That's why Redbarn, a six-time IC 100 company, introduces half a dozen products each year, from chewy cheese pizzas to rawhide waffles. The company has traditionally sold to pet shops. It's now focusing on groceries and mass retailers, where 70 percent of pet food is sold.
Oakland, California Meat processing and distribution
G 184.5% R $48.9 million E 155
Niman Ranch, a five-time IC 100 company, recently added its 500th family farmer to the network that supplies it with premium lamb, beef, veal, and pork. Niman also has started selling cheaper "down the animal" cuts to more economically minded purveyors, and already that business accounts for 25 percent of sales.
Milwaukee Site development
G 183.1% R $3.7 million E 41
Even Milwaukee's 1994 Teacher of the Year needed something to do during school vacations. Heidi M. Brandt made extra money delivering topsoil in the summers and plowing snow in the winters. In 1997, she began acquiring dump trucks, front loaders, and other construction vehicles, as well as employees. Brandt now wants to open a recycling facility for construction and demolition waste.
G 180.8% R $11.7 million E 42
Deb Weidenhamer is one of about 500 women auctioneers in the country, and she can "chant," as it's called, for hours during sales of everything from antiques to aircraft to firearms. Auction Systems has made the IC 100 five times in eight years and last October acquired its largest competitor.
Milwaukee Product return management
G 179.2% R $20.5 million E 367
Capital Returns expedites the return of expired drugs from pharmacies to pharmaceutical manufacturers. Last year Capital Returns was bought by the logistics management company Genco.
Chicago Environmental remediation
G 178.6% R $50.7 million E 400
Luck as well as strategy played a part in Compass Environmental's success: Jonathon Markoff, who founded the company at age 25, became acquainted with a neighbor who was a partner in a private equity firm. The firm invested, giving Compass the wherewithal to expand nationally and acquire an Atlanta-based competitor.
Baltimore Branding and marketing
G 174.8% R $6.6 million E 46
Ed Callahan was a creative director at a package design company and Matt Doud was a writer for a large advertising firm in Baltimore when they decided to join forces. Planit offers marketing forms old (direct mail) and new (guerrilla campaigns and, more recently, blogs). The company has recently made forays into animation, including work on National Geographic's Tales of the Tomb series.
Indianapolis Insurance brokering
G 171.2% R $33.8 million E 195
Joseph Brougher's father, Jeff, sold his own insurance company in 1990, and a year later father and son launched International Medical Group, which insures Americans living abroad, multinational corporations, and international travelers.
Kansas City, Missouri Telecommunication services
G 170% R $14.2 million E 93
David Garza and his brother were running a window-washing business when PacTel began leasing pagers in the neighborhood. Garza leased a large number of the devices and then re-leased them at a lower price, but with service charges paid up front. The company maintained the prepaid model as it expanded into cell and home phone service, and now operates 17 retail locations in Missouri and Oklahoma.
Chester, Pennsylvania Online academic program directories
G 161.9% R $3.7 million E 35
As an engineering student at Syracuse University in the '80s, Mark Shay earned pocket money handing out the school's marketing materials to students. When the Internet arrived, he saw it as a way to build a bridge between schools and what he calls "educational shoppers"--people searching for study-abroad opportunities, grad schools, and continuing education programs.
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. @LeighEBuchanan