PHOTOGRAPHY

Made by the Inc. 500

With robotic strollers and high-tech sand, Inc. 500 companies are reinventing common products.
1
Preferred Sands
Preferred Sands
This is no ordinary sand. The red resin-coated grains are specially treated for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The fracking process typically involves blasting a high-pressure mix of water, sand, and chemicals into shale deep below the earth's surface. (The sand props open tiny cracks in the shale, releasing gas and oil.) Preferred Sands, one of the country's largest fracking sand suppliers, developed the resin-coated sand in response to growing demand for greener materials, says founder Michael O'Neill. The coating allows sand to penetrate low-temperature and low-pressure wells without the use of phenol, a strong chemical.
Radnor, Pennsylvania
No.425
PHOTO: Jamie Chung
2
Bustin Boards
Bustin Boards
Need a ride to work? This Sportster 36 skateboard is built for commuting. The $247 longboard, made of nine-ply Canadian maple, sports a drop-through design, meaning it's low to the ground for added stability. Notches carved in the middle give the board flexibility for a more comfortable ride. Ryan Daughtridge started the company after designing his own skateboard to commute two miles to his Wall Street job in New York City. Bustin Boards, which specializes in longboards for racing and commuting, manufactures the boards in its North Carolina factory before screen-printing custom designs onto them in New York.

Check out the board in use on the streets of NYC.
Brooklyn, New York
No.467
PHOTO: Jamie Chung

3
OrigAudio
OrigAudio
Turns out that almost anything can become a speaker, even a cardboard box. That's the idea behind these 3-inch-tall Fold N'Play speakers, made from recycled materials. The speakers, which fold flat, weigh just 4 ounces each and are powered via the headphone jack of a mobile phone or MP3 player. Friends Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak came up with the idea for the portable speakers, inspired by a Chinese takeout container. Now, their company, OrigAudio, sells a variety of audio electronics, including a gadget that turns household objects--empty tissue boxes and Styrofoam coolers--into speakers. But these Fold N'Play speakers, which come in six designs and sell for $16 a pair, are still the company's bestseller.
Costa Mesa, California
No.307
PHOTO: Jamie Chung

4
KT Tape
KT Tape
When beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh won the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, the black web on her right shoulder got nearly as much attention as her game. The mysterious material turned out to be kinesiology tape, which was stabilizing a rotator-cuff injury. One curious viewer, John MacKay, sensed a business opportunity after he discovered that the tape was being marketed only to physicians. His KT Tape, which comes in 10 colors, is sold over the counter to consumers who, say, pull a muscle or suffer from tendinitis. When placed strategically, the elastic adhesive strips, which sell for $13 to $20 a roll, can either activate or inhibit a targeted muscle. MacKay's company sold more than two million rolls of the stuff last year through some 22,000 drugstores and other retailers.
Lindon, Utah
No.356
PHOTO: Jamie Chung
5
4moms
4moms
This Origami baby stroller is actually part robot. Press a button on the handle, and it automatically folds down flat, ready to stow in a car trunk. The cool factor doesn't stop there: The stroller, which sells for $849, includes headlights and an LCD screen that displays information from the built-in thermometer, pedometer, and speedometer. And, of course, there's a mobile-phone charger, powered by generators in the rear wheels that harness energy as you push the baby. 4moms co-founder Robert Daley says his inspiration was watching a mother struggle to fold her stroller with one hand while holding her baby in the other. He partnered with roboticist Henry Thorne to create the Origami and the company's other high-tech baby products.
Pittsburgh, PA
No.401
PHOTO: Jamie Chung

6
Rigid Industries
Rigid Industries
No streetlights? No problem. Designed for off-road vehicles, these bright--and nearly unbreakable--LEDs from Rigid Industries light up dark spaces for a variety of industries, including farming, emergency services, automotive racing, and mining. The company's patented reflector systems help project the beams long distances. The 40-bulb E-Series light bar (pictured far left) can cast light over a distance of more than 3,000 feet. The light bars, which sell for about $700 each, can be found mounted on a variety of off-road vehicles, including desert racers and airplane inspection vehicles. CEO Jason Christiansen, a former major league pitcher, focused the business on lighting after buying an aftermarket automotive accessories company in 2004.

See how the lights fare against a circular saw.
Gilbert, Arizona
No.151
PHOTO: Jamie Chung




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