1967: Mutz Corp. is founded by Harold Mutz, chief executive officer, and his son, O.U. "Oz" Mutz. The company has no vaunting ambition: it is just one of countless small firms manufacturing fabricated duct pipes and fittings.

1970: In a stagnant economy, people are keeping their cars longer. The auto-parts market is served by 22,000 jobbers, none of them national. Oz and J. Fred Risk, a college friend who later joined the company, see a business opportunity and take the first cautious step, investing in Mid-Con Corp., an auto-parts supplier.

1972: Mutz Corp., with $3 million in sales, goes public.

1974: Now the company understands the auto-parts market and sees a chance to become big by acquiring other companies. It buys Mid-Con.

1975: Oz and Fred take over as CEO and chairman, respectively, and continue to acquire auto-parts companies.

1979: Mutz Corp. becomes #14 on the INC. 100. But its go-slow approach to acquisitions in the early '70s hurts: by now the auto-parts industry has some major players. "We've never much wanted to be number three or four in an industry," says Oz. Later that year, Oz and Fred invest in Excepticon Inc., a care facility for the mentally retarded that is headed by a friend.

Early '80s: Medical care has become one of the major growth industries in the United States, with investor-owned hospitals leading the way. Mutz and Risk wonder if they aren't on to something with Excepticon: once again, they see an industry in which they can grow fast and buy expertise through an acquisition strategy.

1981: Mutz Corp. jettisons its auto-parts business, and acquires Excepticon and a group of hospitals and retirement homes. At the end of the year, it changes its name to Forum Group.

1983: The government upsets the hospital market by ending the practice of paying whatever costs are incurred in treating Medicare patients. Now it establishes fees for treating given illnesses. Being in the hospital business is no longer tantamount to having a license to print money.

1985: In response to the shifting health-care scene, Forum sells its acute-care hospitals for $200 million. It refocuses on a health-care niche unaffected by regulation and demographically bound to grow: long-term care for the affluent elderly. The company begins aggressively buying retirement living centers.

May 1986: Forum's 68,585% growth rate puts it back on the INC. 100, this time as #1 and this time as a health-care company.

WHERE THE INC. 100

ARE BASED

State 1986 1985

California 23 27

New York 13 12

Texas 11 14

Massachusetts 7 4

New Jersey 5 3

Illinois 5 2

Minnesota 4 5

Ohio 4 4

Colorado 3 5

Indiana 2 0

Oklahoma 2 3

Tennessee 2 0

Utah 2 1

Wisconsin 2 0

Arizona 1 0

Connecticut 1 1

Florida 1 1

Kansas 1 0

Maryland 1 4

Michigan 1 3

Missouri 2 0

New Hampshire 1 0

New Mexico 1 0

North Carolina 1 1

Pennsylvania 1 1

Vermont 1 0

Washington 1 1

West Virginia 1 0

GRADUATES

INC. 100 Companies Grow to Fortune 500

Nine alumni of the INC. 100 kept growing strongly enough to gain elite status of another kind -- a ranking among the largest companies in the United States. Six were listed on the 1985 Fortune 500, which covers manufacturing companies. The others ranked on Fortune's Service 500, which includes separate lists for companies in transportation, diversified service, and other areas.

INC. 100 Fortune 500

Year Ranking, 1985

Amdahl 1979 #357

Apple 1982, 83 234

Computer

Computer- 1980 436

vision

Prime 1979, 80, 81 400

Computer

ROLM 1979, 80, 81 397

Tandem 1979, 80, 81, 82, 83 445

Nike 1981 (Divers. Svc.) 64

Federal 1979 (Transp.) 19

Express

Southwest 1980 (Transp.) 40

Airlines

HONOR ROLL

First One Encore . . . Then Another . . . Then . . .

Nine companies have made the INC. 100 list not once, not twice, but three or four years running.

INC. 100 ranking

1983 1984 1985 1986

C. P. Rehab 73 69 49 75

Consul Restaurants 17 6 19 87

Endevco 1 9 16

Fibronics International 45 40 28

Computercraft 14 8 60

Caremark 25 25 76

(formerly Home Health

Care of America)

Avante-Garde Computing 72 52 81

Tender Loving Care 54 78 93

The Yankee Cos. 2 93 95

THE TOP 10:

Sales

Company (rank) Sales ($000)

ALC Communications (3) $467,293

HealthAmerica (20) 462,846

Amer. Healthcare Mgmt. (69) 410,000

Convergent Technologies (39) 395,167

Apollo Computer (14) 295,575

Allegheny & Western Energy (19) 270,458

The Yankee Cos. (95) 213,078

Harvard Industries (72) 205,868

Forum Group (1) 177,207

Endevco (16) 155,287

THE TOP 10:

New Employees

1985 1981 %

Company (rank) empl. empl. growth

Applied Circuit Tech. 237 1 23,600

(94)

Amer. Businessphone (6) 236 1 23,500

Ashton-Tate (4) 459 4 11,375

Cade Industries (18) 975 15 6,400

Sterling Software (30) 2,950 50 5,800

Patient Technology (41) 280 5 5,500

ComputerCraft (60) 640 19 3,268

Walker Telecomm. (17) 100 3 3,233

FONAR (82) 193 6 3,117

Fuddruckers (25) 3,000 100 2,900