General Mills: Maker of the World’s Well-loved Branded Food Products

Headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, General Mills is one of the Fortune 500 companies that are engaged in food processing. The brand names carried by the business are world leaders in the food industry around the world.

From flour manufacturing to the creation of ice cream, the business is one of the leading and most trusted companies in the food industry around the world. Its product portfolio includes refrigerated dough, soup, yogurt, ice cream, pizza, flour, vegetables, cereals and baking mixes, among others. Started out in 1866, the company is the business parent business of brand names like Haagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Lucky Charms and Green Giant.

There are more than 80 facilities around the world that the business operates. It continues to produce world class products that are enjoyed by millions of people around the world every day. From a small milling business, the company has grown into a business that generates more than $14.8 billion in annual revenue.

F5 Networks, Inc.: Controlling and Providing Insights to Networks

Network providers and data centers need the assistance of companies like F5 Networks, Inc. to provide them load balancing services. Through this method, networks are able to ensure that they are able to optimize their resources and at the same time distribute workloads so as not to burden one system.

This multinational business is an expert in the Application Delivery Networking (ADN) technology. This technology offers the optimization of capacity of network-based applications, maximize data storage devices, availability of servers and other network resources and at the same time increase security. The business is the preferred partner in the arena of networking and is credited for manufacturing and marketing some of the first load balancing products in the market. Before the company became F5 Networks, they started out as F5 Labs in 1996. The name F5 was taken from the movie Twister in 1996 that featured the fastest and most powerful tornado in the Fujita Scale, the F5.

The business today competes against companies like Cisco, Zeus Technology, Array Networks and Barracuda Networks. They have maintained a significant market-leading position through its effort of continuously innovating the technology for networking. The company is the maker and marketer of BIG-IP, a famous load balancer that is capable of directing traffic away from servers that are already overloaded. This innovation is also capable of preventing the bogging down of systems by maximizing the capacity of networks and evenly distributing traffic.

As a testimony to the accomplishments of the company, they have been cited by Gartner as one of the leading businesses in the arena of Advanced Platform Application Delivery Controller market and the Application Delivery Controller (ADC) markets. Fortune also named the company as one of the fastest growing businesses worldwide. In 2010, S&P 500 also rated the business as one of the top performing stocks in the market. The company continues to trade publicly on the NASDAQ, under the symbol FFIV.

Crane Co.: An Industrial Products Conglomerate

One of the conglomerates headquartered in Connecticut is Crane Company. With a diverse portfolio, the business is an American industrial products company. The business serves various industries and was once listed as a leading manufacturer of bathroom fixtures.

Generating an annualized revenue of more than $3 billion, Crane Company has several business segments, including, Fluid Handling and Controls, Aerospace & Electronics, Merchandising Systems and Engineered Materials. They are manufacturers of vending machines, fiberglass panels and various telecommunications equipment, sensing and control systems and several products that are useful in the energy sectors. The company is one of the trusted partners of various businesses in the industry of food and beverage, general and commercial aviation, construction, the chemical industry and the power generation sectors.

The company started out in 1855 and through the acquisition of businesses, has grown into a conglomerate. It currently has operations in over 25 countries and has several subsidiaries in each of its business segments.

Dick’s Sporting Goods: A Retailer of Sporting Goods

At the age of 18, Richard “Dick” Stack has already shown exceptional entrepreneurial skills when he founded Dick’s Sporting Goods. This business is known today as one of the largest retailers of sporting goods and is listed as part of the Fortune 500 American corporation.

What Stack founded at the age of 18 now operates 558 stores in 46 states. The majority of their operations is concentrated in the eastern half of the country. They are also known as the owner of Golf Galaxy, Inc., a golf specialty retailer that has over 80 stores in 30 states. They also have an online retail shop that is currently being managed by GSI Commerce. Their online offerings are more varied compared to what they have in real stores mainly because the business operates outside the Dick’s Sporting Goods. As of, there are 6 subsidiaries of the business, namely Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, Inc., Golfworks, Field & Stream, True Runner and Blue Sombrero.

Working as a sales clerk in one of the Army/Navy stores after World War II in Binghamton, New York, Stack opened the idea of expanding their store offerings to include fishing and camping supplies. This idea was outright rejected by the store owner, and even pointed out that he can never become a good merchant. With the help of his grandmother and the $300 she gave him, he followed his dreams and put up a bait & tackle fishing supply store. This business clicked and eventually picked up other products as part of their offerings. It was in the 1950s that the business eventually embraced the concept of general sports merchandise.

Today, the business has its headquarters located in Corapolis, Pennsylvania. From a bait & tackle supplies store, his venture now generates more than $6.21 billion in sales. The company is a component of the S&P 400 and the Russell 1000 Index.

Cabot Corp: A Specialty Chemical and Performance Materials Manufacturer

With operations in more than 20 countries and with 36 manufacturing facilities around the world, Cabot Corporation is considered as one of the well performing specialty chemicals and performance materials manufacturers in the world.

The business is known for manufacturing high grade fumed silica, aerogels, inkjet colorants, cesium formate drilling fluids, rubber and specialty grade carbon blacks. With the volume of chemicals they manufacture every year, the company has invested  a lot in their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. From over 80 incidences in 2008, they were able to trim down any instance of environmental non-conformance to 17 instances in 2012. They have also invested in the research and development to minimize their greenhouse gas emission.

In addition to the 36 manufacturing plants Cabot maintains, they also have 8 research and development hubs and 28 international offices. The business is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and is headed by Patrick Prevost, the company’s CEO.

Citrix Systems, Inc.: A Global Partner in Desktop Virtualization

With more than 330,000 organizations serviced around the world, Citrix Systems, Inc. is one of the most successful American multinational software companies there are. The business is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and has offices and development centers across the globe. As a software business, Citrix offers software-as-a-service (SaaS), cloud computing technologies, networking, server, application and desktop virtualization.

The company is also known for leading the Xen open-source hypervisor project after the business acquired XenSource, Inc. in October 2007. With the products and services offered by the business, companies can easily access the same source of information, anytime, anywhere. Not only is Citrix offering mobility to businesses, they also offer secure channel applications that allow businesses to provide access to users with utmost security.

With $3 million funding, Ed Iacobucci founded the business in 1989. Iacobucci was one of the founders of IBM and he created Citrix in Richardson, Texas and later on moved it to Coral Springs, Florida before settling in Fort Lauderdale. Before the company became Citrix, the business was initially named Citrus but was compelled to make a name change after trademark rights to another business. The word Citrix is a portmanteau of the words Citrus and UNIX. Their first product was the Citrix MULTIUSER which was based on OS/2. This offering, however, didn’t flourish in the market after Microsoft declared that they are going to halt their support of this system.

Citrix is known as a good alliance of Microsoft. The majority of the systems created by Citrix is made compatible with the programs of Microsoft. This partnership has been running for more than 20 years now since 1989. Both companies have forged a strong relationship over desktop virtualization. Since 1997, the company has acquired more than 20 businesses, the most recent of which was the Scalextreme which they purchased in May 2014 for an undisclosed amount.

Zumiez: A Specialty Clothing Retailer

Lynnwood, Washington-based Zumiez is a publicly traded specialty clothing retailer that got established in 1978. It was Tom Campion and Gary Haakenson, who created the business and is now traded on the NASDAQ.

As a specialty clothing retailer, they are known for their action-sports related apparel. They offer clothing for skateboarding, snowboarding and motocross. Their first store was opened in Northgate Mall in Seattle and was named “Above the Belt”, back then their main office was located in Everett, Washington. It was in the 1980s that the business has expanded dramatically. Currently, there are more than 500 stores that the business operates both in Canada and in the United States. The company is also well loved for their annual Couch Tour where they make 12 “full stop” travels, bringing with them live bands, professional skateboarding demos and some competitions.

The recent expansion of the business is also attributed to its acquisition of two competing brands: Fast Forward (2006) and Blue Tomato (2012).

Autodesk, Inc.: Designing the Next Best Thing

Designing anything is made easier because of technology. Various software is now available that would help those who are in the engineering, architecture, manufacturing, construction, entertainment and media industry, create the best virtual model.

One of the businesses that have been advocated by millions for its user-friendly interface is Autodesk. Founder John Walker, created the business in 1982 while co-authoring the first few versions of AutoCAD, the flagship software of the business. This computer-aided design (CAD) software has always been the preferred software for anyone who is to start designing things virtually. Millions of people have benefitted from the wonders that AutoCAD brings them. Most likely, one or two of the things you are holding right now are created through AutoCAD.

From buildings to cars, furniture to consumer gadgets, AutoCAD is able to create the best designs that would aid in creating the prototype of the item. The New York Freedom Tower, for instance, was drafted using this software. So are the Telstra electric cars. While AutoCAD became the best known software created by Autodesk, the company continues to create a broad range of software that would aid in engineering, designing and the entertainment industry. Other creation of the business includes Pixlr, Homestyler and Sketchbook.

Most of the products created by the business are licensed and thus come with a price. As part of their commitment to help the community it thrives in, they have offered educational versions of their software that are made for free to qualified students. These software are accessible through their Autodesk Education Community.

Headquartered in San Rafael, California, Autodesk has a worldwide presence and generates more than $2.27 billion in annualized revenue. They have offices around the world and employ more than 7,500 associates. The business is publicly held and is traded on the NASDAQ.

Wausau Paper: More than 115 Years of Paper Production

One of the oldest paper and pulp companies in America is Wausau Paper. The business has been around since 1899 and produces a line of tissue and towel products that they market together with their soap and dispensing systems.

Employing more than 900 workers, the business has operations in the state of Kentucky, Ohio and in Wisconsin. They have two manufacturing facilities and one support service site. Their operations focus on the towel and tissue segment of the paper industry. Prior to this strategic shift of interest, the company was in the production of various paper materials that at one point they became a leading producer of specialty paper in the 1980s. In addition, the business also enjoyed a leading position in the market of uncoated freesheet and premium paper in 2009.

The company has merged with Mosinee Paper Corporation and was renamed to Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation in 2003. The name was changed again to reflect the integration of the two businesses.

Waterstones: Offering Readers the Widest Selection

Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” Imagine the number of friends one can find on the shelves of Waterstones! Formerly known as Waterstone’s, the business is a British book retailer that has 275 stores in operation.

The business serves the countries of the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and the United Kingdom and was established in 1982 in the Old Brompton Road in London. It is Tim Waterstone, who started the business and he later sold his venture to W H Smith. Later on, the company was reacquired through the joint venture of Waterstone, EMI & Advent International. The business was eventually sold to Alexander Mamut, a Russian billionaire. In addition to the Waterstones brand, the company also owns the Hodges Figgis in Ireland and the Hatchards in London.

A bookstore is always accompanied with café shops that would make reading more delightful. The company has partnered with Starbucks, Paperchase and Costa Coffee as concessionaires and has eventually launched their very own Café W brand. From the works of contemporary writers to new age authors, every shop surely carries a copy or two of your favorite book. It is estimated that an average sized store carries approximately 30,000 individual books.

As a well-loved bookshop, Waterstones also looks after its impact to the environment and has worked with the British Safety Council to minimize its effect to its surroundings other than its carbon footprint. In its efforts to safeguard the environment, they have earned three stars from the British Safety Council.

Waterstones is also known as a good supporter of various literary awards and maintains a few of their own, including the Waterstones 11, The Guardian First Book Award, Waterstones Children’s Laureate and the Pushkin Houe Russian Book Prize. Several industries and consumer awards were also given to the business.

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