Numbers can be deceiving. They don’t reveal the struggles, the horror, or the shear relief when a company is able to come back from the brink--or out on the other side of recession. When you look beyond the numbers of the Inc. 5000, you'll find some big stories of small business success. Many made the list year after year, and others launched major comebacks. Meet five companies that have shown some serious grit and resilience. -- Nicole Carter
Triple Point Technology
West Point, Conn.
2011 Revenue: $136.5 million
Three-Year Growth: 97.02%
This company, which sells software for commodities trading, has appeared on the Inc. 500 every year since it was founded in 1993--that's 10 times. The company's secret sauce? Smart acquisitions, an innovative team, and staying ahead of the rapidly changing market, says Michael Schwartz, the company's chief marketing officer. "We've managed to continue broadening the range of services we provide while maintaining a strong internal culture."
2011 Revenue: $7.9 million
Three-Year Growth: 61.7%
The last time History Associates was on the Inc. 500 list, it was 1986. After 26 years, the historical consulting business, which offers record creation and collection management, returns to the list for a second time. Why the absence? President Brian Martin says that after a period of slow growth in the early 1990s, the company's founders retired, and passed the torch to a younger group of executives. "Everything from the market to our clients have changed," he says. "The transition to a new management core was pretty natural, and helped the company approach new challenges in a new way."
2011 Revenue: $24 million
Three-Year Growth: 82.14%
This marketing firm, which is making its seventh appearance on the Inc. 5000 since it was founded in 2001, almost doubled its revenue since 2008. "The services we provided were the ones that our clients (small business owners) didn't cut from their budgets when the recession hit," says founder and CEO Janine Popick. "We helped them retain customers, which was a crucial service."
2011 Revenue: $4.5 million
Three-Year Growth: 58.25%
Across the board, sales of construction materials declined significantly between 2009 and 2010. So how did ABC Supply, a firm that provides roofing, siding, and exterior building products to contractors nationwide, manage to achieve double-digit revenue growth in the last three years? "Our core is our people. Maybe some think that is cliche, but we hire the best people and tried to keep morale high," says David Luck, ABC Supply’s CEO and president. ABC Supply has been on the Inc. 5000 seven times.
2011 Revenue: $47 million
Three-Year Growth: 88.4%
Which entrepreneur would expand overseas in the middle of a recession? Rob Auerbach. "It was the scariest and best decision I've made in two years," he says. "International sales are now 35% of our business. American culture is exported to the world, so there's a demand for our products." This classic candy business, founded in 2000, shows that a simple-but-well-executed concept can be more than a little fruitful: The company has been on the Inc. 5000 seven times, and nearly doubled its revenue from 2008 to 2011.