Hartford, Connecticut Sportswear manufacturing
G 160.2% R $2 million E 20
GimaSport began life half a century ago as GG Sportswear. Luigi Giansiracusa, an Italian immigrant, built the business with his wife, Ines; later their son Roberto joined them. Roberto eventually took over the family business and, together with his brother-in-law George Marinelli, created a full-service company that offers cutting and sewing, screen printing, and embroidery.
Chicago Food manufacturing
G 159.9% R $94.2 million E 321
With the Atkins diet no longer in ascendance, business isn't quite hog heaven for chairman Alejandro Silva and his partners. Still, Evans Food remains the largest private-label maker of pork rinds in the world, serving markets as far-flung as Poland, Norway, and most of Latin America.
East Hartford, Connecticut Staffing services
G 152.3% R $7.2 million E 22
Ahmed A. Ahsan came to the United States from Bangladesh in 1987 to study marketing. He worked as a banker, launched a couple of retail food companies, and found none of it satisfying. But along the way he learned a lot about business--notably about its unending hunger for good people. He founded Horizon Staffing in 1995 to supply such people, many of them immigrants like himself.
Detroit Building material manufacturing
G 150.9% R $5.1 million E 20
Aluminum is in Nancy Marshall's blood. Her grandfather worked for Alcoa, and her father and uncles started the aluminum distribution center that Marshall now owns and runs. Her challenge is to diversify the customer base for the company's sheet metal, roofing, and other products.
Port Allen, Louisiana Radioactive material remediation
G 139.8% R $2.9 million E 28
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita cost American Radiation Services 35 percent of its normal revenue in 2005. But things would have been worse, says CEO Danny Coleman, if the company, whose bread and butter is the gas and oil industries, hadn't begun working for the Department of Defense. ARS advises a range of public and private organizations on worker safety and examines radioactive materials in its own laboratory.
St. Louis Carpentry and concrete subcontracting
G 138.2% R $9.3 million E 104
Gentrification is great for the building trade. BAM Construction has done everything from pouring concrete foundations to fashioning wood trim on residential and commercial buildings throughout St. Louis. But close to 80 percent of its work lies within 10 miles of company headquarters, a lovely historic building bordering a verdant park in the rapidly upscaling Tower Grove neighborhood. CEO Brian Murphy spent two years running the city's Minority-Owned Business Enterprise certification process before launching BAM out of his home (also lovely, also historic, he says). But he worries about those gentrification leaves behind, and so he recruits heavily in urban high schools and youth employment centers, even corralling passers-by when he's out on a job to discuss the importance of careers. "These are kids--maybe 18 to 22--who've never worked anywhere before, or nowhere except McDonald's," says Murphy. "I'm going to teach them a trade. Because you can take things away from people but you can never take away skills."
Charlotte, North Carolina Parking services
G 137.9% R $1.8 million E 200
Brian Haupricht and a friend were working for a valet company in Columbus, Ohio, when one of the company's clients, the steak house Morton's of Chicago, complained about the service. Morton's asked the pair to take over the contract, which they did, and when a Morton's opened in Charlotte in 1994, they moved their business there. Today, Parking Solutions serves restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and private functions in three southern states.
Denver Business-services franchising
G 137.1% R $11 million E 32
PostNet has 900 franchised postal and business-services stores on four continents. To help manage this far-flung and culturally diverse organization, founders Steven Greenbaum and Brian Spindel rely on national boards of storeowners, who advise management on marketing and financing.
Boston Limousine services
G 131.1% R $13.8 million E 170
Dawson Rutter started out as a taxi driver, switched to limos for the air conditioning, and in 1982 founded what has become one of the 10 largest limousine services in the country. More than a third of the company's revenue comes from an international network that supplies one-stop shopping for ground transport.
Bloomfield, Connecticut Furniture design
G 129% R $12.1 million E 28
Salvatore Carrabba is an audiophile who started building home-entertainment furniture to accommodate his own ever-evolving stereo system. Good ink in The Wall Street Journal and in a pair of audio and design publications, coupled with the popularity of elaborate home theaters, have helped Salamander, which outsources manufacturing. Salamander sells its modular furniture in the United States and Canada through outlets such as Tweeter Etc. and Soundworks.
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