Small Giants

Small Giants - Bo Burlingham

How maverick companies have passed up the growth treadmill—and focused on greatness instead.

Small Giants
Purchase Small Giants

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.

They include:

  • Anchor Brewing, in San Francisco: the original American microbrewery

  • 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 vehicles

  • 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 DiFranco

  • 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
Bo Burlingham
Read about Bo Burlingham
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.

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.”


Portfolio Logo