Indiana's Growth 100.

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The state's high-growth, high-potential companies: What are their prospects for making next year's list?

World terrorism, lower interest rates, increased global competition, creeping unemployment and the dot-com fallout are all factors influencing economic growth in Indiana.

"The intensity of global competition is going to increase," says Bill Haeberle, senior fellow at the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, part of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business in Bloomington. "Companies that benefit from this increased competition are those that in some way are in the value chain to market and service these products in the U.S."

Price competition for a basic commodity such as steel, for example, has opened up opportunities for some Hoosier firms. "It is now so cheap to import steel. In many cases, we simply can't afford to manufacture it anymore," Haeberle observes. "But taking a raw steel product from a foreign producer and converting it into a form that a builder can use may be profitable."

Better yet, at DeKaib Molded Plastics Co. Inc. in Butler, plastics is king. According to president and CEO Jeff Rodgers, "our growth comes from places we don't imagine. It comes from converting a product in wood or metal, for instance, to plastic. Plastic is more design-friendly."

DeKalb, an Indiana Growth 100 winner this year, grossed more than $13 million in 2000. Sales include making enclosures for medical devices. "These products are sold and designed by someone else," Rodgers says. "Growth for us has come from an extremely strong sales organization. Our sales force is very well plugged into industries that are developing new products."

DeKalb is currently helping a manufacturer develop a truck bed for its golf cart. Similarly, portable gas heaters are being converted from all-metal to heavy plastic. "People are cost-reducing their parts to become more competitive in the marketplace," Rodgers explains.

Lower interest rates are also benefiting DeKalb. "A lot of the financing vehicles we use are floating, and they float with prime. So when prime goes down, this reduces our overhead costs because our debt service goes down," Rodgers says. "I also think this is the time for businesses to expand because of the low interest rates."

Morton Marcus, an economist at the Kelley School of Business, agrees that low interest rates are very important for the economic growth of any size company. Likewise, the terrorist attacks will help "firms that sell security...

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