A Look Back at the 30-Year History of Our Fastest-Growing Companies List
Fortune’s list of Fastest-Growing Companies has always provided a revealing window into the economy. It’s no surprise that the likes of Apple (AAPL), Dell (DELL), and Starbucks (SBUX) were regulars on the roster in its early days. Yet for every superstar glimpsed in its formative years, there’s an improbable fleeting candidate—a flash in the pan or a company that soared only to crash in a spectacular scandal. It’s unexpected today, to put it mildly, to consider that enterprises like Smith Corona—then a maker of typewriters, now a maker of “thermal transfer labels”—and easy-chair maker La-Z-Boy (LZB) qualified as white-hot a quarter-century ago. Perhaps less surprising, considering the fraud convictions of some of its executives, is the fact that Enron slipped on to the list before the company collapsed. The timeline reveals the steady ascent of certain industries, such as biotech; the rise and fall (and rise) of homebuilding; and most dramatically, the spike that had energy companies dominating the list—until they didn’t. That’s a lot of history packed into just three decades.
Scroll through the timeline below to see the 30-year history of our Fastest-Growing Companies list.
A version of this article appears in the September 15, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “30 Years of Fastest-Growing Companies—The Highs…and Lows.”