Small Giants - Bo Burlingham
How maverick companies have passed up the growth treadmill—and focused on greatness instead.
It’s a widely accepted axiom of business that great companies
grow their revenues and profits year after year. Yet
quietly, under the radar, some entrepreneurs have rejected
the pressure of endless growth to focus on more satisfying
business goals. Goals like being great at what they do . . .
creating a great place to work . . . provid-ing great customer
service . . . making great contributions to their communities
. . . and finding great ways to lead their lives.
In Small Giants, veteran journalist Bo Burlingham takes
us deep inside fourteen remarkable privately held companies,
in widely varying industries across the country, that
have chosen to march to their own drummer. He searches
for the magic ingredients that give these companies their
unique “mojo” and the lessons we can learn from them.
Size and growth rate aside, these small giants share some
very interesting characteristics. They are all utterly determined
to be the best at what they do. Most have been
recognized for excellence by independent bodies inside and
outside their industries. All have had the opportunity to
raise a lot of capital, grow very fast, do mergers and acquisitions,
expand geographically, and generally follow the
well-worn route of other successful companies.
- Anchor Brewing, in San Francisco: the original American
- CitiStorage Inc., in Brooklyn: the premier independent
records-storage business in the United States
- Clif Bar & Co., in Berkeley: a leading maker of natural
and organic energy bars and other nutrition foods
- ECCO, in Boise: the leading manufacturer of backup
alarms and amber warning lights for commercial
- Hammerhead Productions, in Studio City, California:
a supplier of computer-generated special effects to the
motion picture industry
- Righteous Babe Records, in Buffalo: the celebrated
record company founded by singer-songwriter Ani
- Union Square Hospitality Group, in New York City:
the company of renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer
- Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, in Ann Arbor:
including the world-famous Zingerman’s Deli
To stay on the road less traveled, these companies have
remained privately owned, with the majority of the stock
in the hands of one person or a few like-minded individuals.
They were founded by and still are run by unique entrepreneurs
who recognized the full range of choices they had
about the type of company they could create and allowed
themselves to question the usual definitions of success.
As Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group
puts it, “I’ve made much more money by choosing the
right things to say no to than by choosing things to say yes
to. I measure it by the money I haven’t lost and the quality
I haven’t sacrificed.”