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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - Page updated at 11:50 a.m.

Best of the Northwest

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.

Top companies of the decade

Top companies of 2009

Precision Castparts

Precision Castparts has shown that old-line manufacturing industries such as recycling scrap steel can thrive in today's global market. The Portland company tops The Seattle Times' 19th annual ranking of the region's top public companies for 2009 and for the decade 2000-09.

The low-profile company has benefited greatly from the push by Boeing and Airbus to build big, complicated new planes. For example, each 787 contains about $5.6 million of Precision-made components.

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Founded: 1977

Headquarters: Liberty Lake

Major operations: Automated meter-reading module operations in Minnesota; electricity meter operations in South Carolina; 55 other manufacturing and distribution facilities and 84 sales/administrative offices around the world.

CEO: Malcolm Unsworth

Employees: 9,000

Major products/services: Meters and meter-reading systems for electricity, gas and water utilities

Average annual shareholder return, 2000-09: 27.3 percent

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Schnitzer Steel

Founded: 1906

Headquarters: Portland

Major operations: Major export facilities in Tacoma, Portland, Oakland and Massachusetts; smaller scrap yards in 15 states and Puerto Rico; steel minimill in Oregon; 47 auto-parts stores in 14 states and Canada

CEO: Tamara Lundgren

Employees: 3,323

Major products/services: Processes and sells ferrous and nonferrous scrap metal; makes finished steel products from scrap; sells used auto parts

Average annual shareholder return, 2000-09: 23.3 percent

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Founded: 1905, as Seattle Car Manufacturing Co.

Headquarters: Bellevue

Major operations: Manufacturing plants in Washington (Renton), Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma; also in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom

CEO: Mark Pigott

Employees: 15,200

Major products/services: Light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF brands; financial services and information technology; truck parts

Average annual shareholder return, 2000-09: 19.3 percents

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Founded: 1971

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: More than 16,000 stores in 51 countries, including 11,000+ in the United States

CEO: Howard Schultz

Employees: 142,000

Major products/services: Coffee, tea, other beverages

Average annual shareholder return, 2000-09: 14.6 percent

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Precision Castparts

Founded: 1956

Headquarters: Portland

Major operations: 111 offices and manufacturing plants in the United States; 64 overseas

CEO: Mark Donegan

Employees: 20,600

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

Special sauce: Squeezing operating costs during the slump should result in fatter profit margins as orders pick up.

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Founded: 1994

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: Uses 20.3 million square feet of office, warehouse and data-center space - nearly 14 million square feet in North America and an additional 6.4 million overseas.

CEO: Jeff Bezos

Employees: 24,300

Major products/services: Sells nearly everything you can think of online, both directly and through third-party sellers; also sells tools to digital entrepreneurs and makes the Kindle e-reader.

Special sauce: The Kindle e-reader marks Amazon's determination to remain a force in media sales, even as more and more content phases from the physical to the virtual world.

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Flir Systems

Founded: 1978

Headquarters: Wilsonville, Ore.

Major operations: California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania; Estonia, France, Sweden, United Kingdom

CEO: Earl Lewis

Employees: 21,400

Major products/services: A wide range of products that use infrared technology, including military-targeting systems, security cameras, rifle scopes, homes-inspection devices and night-vision systems for cars.

Special sauce: Flir focuses on developing new high-end uses for infrared imaging, then pushing them down in price and into broader markets

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Founded: 1993

Headquarters: Bellevue

Major operations: Redbox headquarters and main office of electronic-payments business in suburban Chicago; main offices of money-transfer business in California and London, England

CEO: Paul Davis

Employees: 2,600

Major products/services: DVD-rental and coin-counting machines; electronic payments and money transfers

Special sauce: The Redbox DVD-rental business has turned out to be a lucrative category-killer.

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Todd Shipyards

Founded: 1916

Headquarters: Seattle

Major operations: Seattle, Everett

CEO: Stephen Welch

Employees: 550

Major products/services: Shipbuilding and repair, for both military and commercial vessels.

Special sauce: It's hard to argue with nearly a century of experience.

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Decade of performance

The Northwest 76

CEO Pay |Numbers don't tell the whole story

The stock market's rebound last year proved a gold mine for some local CEOs. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rose to the top of our list.