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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - Page updated at 11:24 a.m.

Best of the Northwest. The Seattle Times' 20th annual ranking
of the region's top public companies
for 2010 and the last two decades.

Top companies over two decades

Top companies of 2010

Flir Systems

Founded: 1978

Headquarters: Wilsonville, Ore.

Major operations: Portland; Boston; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Bozeman, Mont.; Sweden and the United Kingdom. Major divisions are Government Systems and Commercial Systems

CEO: Earl Lewis

Employees: 3,215

Major products/services: Night vision and thermal-visioning equipment, military targeting systems, security cameras, equipment monitoring, home-inspection devices, night-vision systems for cars, marine electronics.

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Microsoft

Founded: 1975

Headquarters: Redmond

Major operations: 40,310 employees work in the Puget Sound area, and the company has offices that dot the globe.

CEO: Steve Ballmer

Employees: 89,000

Major products/services: Windows operating-system software, Office productivity software, server software, video game console Xbox, search engine Bing, cloud-computing platform Azure, Windows Phone, online services such as MSN and Hotmail.

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Precision
Castparts

Founded: 1956

Headquarters: Portland

Major operations: More than 100 manufacturing facilities in 24 states and 12 foreign countries

CEO: Mark Donegan

Employees: 18,100

Major products/services:Cast and forged-metal pieces for aircraft engines, gas turbines and other industrial uses; fasteners; specialty alloys.

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Starbucks

Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: 16,863 cafes in the U.S. and abroad, plus sales of coffee, bottled Frappuccino and other products in grocery stores.

CEO: Howard Schultz

Employees: 137,000

Major products/services:Coffee and tea, pastries and sandwiches.

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Micron
Technology

Founded: 1978

Headquarters: Boise, Idaho

Major operations: Wafer-fabrication plants in seven locations, including two in the U.S. Four assembly and test operations and four memory module assembly plants, including in Boise.

CEO: Steve Appleton

Employees: 25,900

Major products/services: One of the world's leading semiconductor companies, making dynamic random-access memory and flash memory chips used in computers, networking and servers.

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Starbucks

Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: 16,863 cafes in the U.S. and abroad, plus sales of coffee, bottled Frappuccino and other products in grocery stores.

CEO: Howard Schultz

Employees: 137,000

Major products/services:Coffee and tea, pastries and sandwiches.

Read more

Alaska Air
Group

Founded: 1932

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: Main subsidiaries Alaska Airlines and regional carrier Horizon Air. Alaska is the eighth-largest U.S. airline, with hubs in Seattle, Anchorage, Los Angeles and Portland.

CEO: Bill Ayer

Employees: 12,039

Major products/services: Provides service to 23 million passengers a year flying to more than 90 destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It also has the most extensive air-cargo operation on the West Coast among passenger airlines.

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F5 Networks

Founded: 1996

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: Customers in more than 100 countries, including 60 percent of the Fortune 500.

CEO: John McAdam

Employees: 2,012

Major products/services: Provides application delivery networking software and hardware to optimize on-demand information technology, cloud computing and virtual computing.

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Amazon.com

Founded: 1994

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: Uses 30 million square feet of office, warehouse, data-center and customer-service space. Of that, nearly 19 million square feet is in North America and the rest is overseas.

CEO: Jeff Bezos

Employees: 33,700

Major products/services: Sells a broad array of products online directly and through third-party vendors across dozens of categories; also makes the Kindle e-reader and rents out computing power to other businesses and organizations.

Read more

Coinstar

Founded: 1993

Headquarters: Bellevue

Major operations: Uses nearly 78,000 square feet of space in Bellevue for administrative, marketing and product-development work; its Redbox subsidiary is based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., where it uses about 160,000 square feet.

CEO: Paul Davis

Employees: 2,585

Major products/services: Operates Redbox movie-rental and Coinstar coin-counting machines.

Read more



Analysis of two decades

Top performers navigate hard times with skill, emerge stronger

Best companies share key attributes: global reach, nimbleness, strong leadership.

20 years of volatility, and resilience | Jon Talton

Despite ruinous recessions and corporate losses, we rebound, rebuild, reinvent.

20-year track record

The top-ranked Northwest companies over the last 20 years.

How our ranking system was born

Return on equity is weighed heaviest, giving even the smallest companies a shot at the top.

How we ranked the companies

The biggest change over 20 years is that fewer than 100 companies have qualified in the last three years.

Jon Talton

Jon Talton, the lead reporter on our Best of the Northwest section, writes a Sunday column and blogs weekdays on the region's most important economic news, trends and issues. Read more at:

Jon Talton's blog | Weekly columns

Best of the Northwest 2009

The Seattle Times' 19th annual ranking of the region's top public companies for 2009 and a special analysis of the top companies of the decade, 2000-09.

CEO Pay | Northwest CEOs' pay rises 13%

Many top execs got more in 2010 because a big chunk of their compensation was linked to their companies' financial results.

For 2nd year, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is Northwest's best-paid executive

Income inequality grows as CEO pay climbs above historic levels | Jon Talton

Interactive: 2010 CEO pay database | Top 20 CEOs (PDF)

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