Innovation, focus, and a willingness to change led these private label makers of bar soap to a leadership position in the industry. Next time you lather up in the shower, that squeaky clean feeling may not be due only to the brand name etched on the bar. Vermont’s Twincraft Soap has been making soap since 1971, and under the leadership of Peter Asch, president and CEO, the company has become the leading global private label manufacturer of high-end specialty bar soap.

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This dairy distributor is growing again by refocusing on its foundation: high quality products at fair prices, delivered with outstanding service. After 56 years in business, Polka Dot Dairy is exhibiting great adaptability to business in the 21st century. This family-owned dairy distribution company, which went live with its first Web site a few weeks ago, is picking up speed.

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Diverse product lines and multiple distribution channels are helping this producer of more than 100 bread products thrive in a lean economy. People need to eat. That is never going to change. For Michigan’s Kordas’ Metropolitan Baking Company and Mike Zrimec, general manager, offering customers best-in-class bread products is the key to feeding another generation.

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Through word of mouth marketing, this homeopathic company is still going strong after more than 100 years. A. Nelson & Co. was incorporated by Ernst Louis Armbrecht, a student of Samuel Hahnemann, the founding father of homeopathy. Applying the principles he learned from Hahnemann, Armbrecht opened the first branch of the company in London in 1860. The company remained in the Armbrecht family for several generations before it was purchased by Dick Wilson in the early 1970s. 

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This company took its years of experience in manufacturing, importing, and distributing eyewear and created its own brands to help it expand globally. Eyeglasses are more than just sight aids. They are a statement of an individual’s personality. For Canada’s Wescan Optical, being on top of market trends has helped the company grow steadily through importing and distribution. Now the company is promoting brands of its own.

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A recent rebranding campaign is just what this staple of the US paper products industry needed to freshen its image. This year marks the 120th anniversary of a humble invention a young man named Thomas Holley created in Holyoke, Mass. back in 1888. From the clippings and rejected sheets of paper on the floor of a factory there, Holley stitched together the first legal pad and founded Ampad. Today, the company is still dedicated to innovative products and high-quality, responsive service for its customers.

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This nutritional beverage maker is meeting the growing consumer demand for healthy drinks by constantly creating new products. Chris New, founder, chairman, and CEO of NBI Juiceworks (New Beverage Insights Juiceworks, LLP), producers and distributors of Drenchers Fit ’N’ Lean Super Juice Beverages and Sun Shower brand beverages, does indeed have his eye set on what’s new and innovative, as his spate of new product introductions proves.

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A robust Internet strategy and a commitment to low costs sets this cosmetic company apart from the competition. Forward thinking has helped ELF Cosmetics grow to become a $20 million company in just four years. Led by CEO Joey Shamah, the company is an example of the start-up of the future, which relies on the Internet to move quickly but supports the virtual business with innovative retail strategies.

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