San Francisco - Entrepreneurs gathered at Inc. Magazine's annual Inc. 500 conference last week to celebrate ranking among the fastest-growing private businesses in the country. Hundreds of entrepreneurs were on hand at this year's festivities, which were held at the historic Fairmont Hotel.

Ken Hendricks, the founder and CEO of ABC Supply (see Inc.'s December issue), was honored as Inc. "Entrepreneur of the Year."

Through careful acquisition of failing local businesses in Beloit, Wisc., Hendricks was able to revitalize his hometown, while adding jobs and invigorating the local economy. In September Forbes ranked Hendricks as number 107 on its list of the 400 richest Americans. ABC Supply, Hendricks' national building supply chain, tallied more than $3 billion worth of sales in 2006.

After a kick-off speech by San Francsico Mayor Gavin Newsome on Friday night, Saturday morning's keynote address was given by Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor apparel company Patagonia. Management expert Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence and Reimagine: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age, delivered the afternoon's keynote address.

Discussion panels were held throughout the day and featured topics ranging from the perils and advantages of doing business in China to the basics of doing business in the Web 2.0 age. The event concluded with a black tie gala honoring this year's Inc. 500 recipients.