What they did: The Denver firm handles customer service calls for clients like Office Depot and Abercrombie & Fitch. Its edge? While larger competitors staff costly brick-and-mortar call centers, mainly with recent high school grads, Alpine relies on more experienced telecommuters, saving on real estate costs. Also, says CEO Christopher M. Carrington, his mature crew is more likely to empathize with frustrated callers. Meanwhile, rivals are getting into Alpine's territory, accommodating additional home-based workers. Carrington is counting on Alpine's rigorous training program and quality workforce -- it accepted only 1% of all applicants last year -- to help maintain an edge. How's business? Carrington says the company is profitable, and sales will rise to $110 million from $67.5 million last year.
It takes something special to run young companies, and these players have it. They may not be corporate, but they're all major-league talents.
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