19047358
Diners at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Williston, N.D. Photograph by Dermot Tatlow—laif/Redux

Four decades-old companies that are growing like start-ups

Aug 19, 2015

The ascendancy of technology in America’s corporate hierarchy has conditioned us to equate “fast-growing” with “new.” When you hear that a business has logged profit and sales growth of 15% or more for three years in a row (the table stakes for joining Fortune’s Fastest-Growing Companies list), it’s easy to assume it’s rising on an updraft of innovation—thanks to a groundbreaking chip, a must-have “wearable,” or the Uber of something or other.

Look more closely at many other fast growers, however, and you’ll find stories of endurance rewarded—of businesses that performed just fine for decades before bigger shifts in the economy and culture helped them turbocharge their growth.

Homebuilder NVR (nvr), for example, stuck with a cautious real estate strategy for 15 years before the housing crash and subsequent recovery made it pay off.

Buffalo Wild Wings (bwld) was a steadily growing restaurant chain for a quarter-century, but the rise of fantasy sports and the paleo diet enabled it to become an appetizer-fueled juggernaut.

These companies and the two others featured here, water-management giant Ecolab (ecl) and retailer Ulta Beauty (ulta), have near-term futures as promising as their recent pasts, and they demonstrate that in business, eye-catching blossoms are often attached to deep roots.

Fastest-Growing Companies: Ones to Watch
NVR
Buffalo Wild Wings
Ulta Beauty
Ecolab

To see the list of our top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, visit fortune.com/100-fastest-growing-companies.

A version of this article appears in the September 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline “Seizing Their Moment.”

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions