Thomas A. Stewart Interviews with Yahoo! Finance Market Pulse

What do Tootsie Roll, Elmer’s Glue and Lagunitas Brewing Company have in common?

They are just a few of the nearly 200,000 American companies that make up the so-called middle market of the U.S. economy. Many of these companies are solid, family-run businesses that are often less visible in the economy than large cap, public companies. They range in revenue from $10 million to $1 billion a year.

Tom Stewart, Executive Director of the National Center for the Middle Market, which studies this section of the economy, says these are critical to America's competitiveness. Stewart says these companies represent one-third of jobs, one-third of GDP and “the most significant source of growth in both revenues and employment in the U.S. economy.”

This Fourth of July, Yahoo Finance is saluting these companies. Here’s how you can have an All-American, all-middle market Independence Day:

Fly your flag by Annin Flagmakers

Founded in 1847 by brothers Edward and Benjamin Annin, New Jersey-based Annin Flagmakers is currently run by the sixth generation of the family. It is both the oldest and largest American manufacturer of flags. All company flags are made in the U.S. in factories in Ohio and Virginia. The company made headlines this week when it halted production of Confederate flags after national debate heated up in the wake of the killings of nine congregants at an African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Enjoy a Nathan’s Famous hot dog

Founded in 1916, by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker, Nathan’s Famous grew to have a worldwide following. Handwerker started the business with a single cart purchased with a $300 loan from friends. Today it’s a publicly–traded company trading under the ticker (NATH) with $99.1 million in annual revenue.

Grill your dinner on a Weber grill

George A. Stephen, Sr. loved to barbecue but he was frustrated with the uneven flame on an open grill. So in 1952, he developed a better grill at Weber Brothers Metal Works where he worked. Today the company is headquartered in Palatine, Illinois and has plans to open a distribution center in Huntley, Illinois later this summer. Its products include grills, accessories, and cookbooks.

Wash down your dinner with an American-brewed beer

How about a Samuel Adams, an Abita, or a Sierra Nevada? All are brewed in the U.S.A. Boston Beer Company (SAM) was founded in 1984 by Jim Koch who based his beer on a generations-old family recipe found in an attic. The company’s first beer was called Samuel Adams Boston Lager, in honor of the Founding Father of the same name. Today, the publicly-held brewer offers more than 60 styles of beer.

Abita Brewing Company was founded in 1986 about 30 miles outside New Orleans in Abita Springs, Louisiana. The first year, the company produced just 1,500 barrels a year. Today, the brewery makes 165,000 barrels of beer each year. Abita also brews 13,000 barrels of root beer a year.  The company has 105 employees and revenues of $42 million.  Abita beer is sold in 44 states and in five countries.

Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has grown to employ 985 people and now makes 1 million barrels of beer a year. Sierra Nevada Brewing has breweries in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina. It sells beer in all 50 states, Canada and several other countries.

Keep everything cold in a Thermos cooler

Founded in 1904, Thermos has grown to become a leading maker of insulated food and beverage containers. The company has a 500,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Batesville, Mississippi, and has 19 offices around the globe. Thermos products available in more than 70 countries.

Take your kids to a holiday parade in a Radio Flyer wagon

Founded in 1917, Radio Flyer became synonymous with the red wagon. Today, the company sells more than 100 products in 25 different countries. Products are sold at Toys R Us, Target (TGT), Walmart (WMT), RadioFlyer.com, and Amazon (AMZN). The company remains a private-held and family-owned and has 56 employees.

Finish off the day with a fireworks display by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale

The family-run fireworks business based in New Castle, Pennsylvania creates fireworks displays for municipalities, Major League Baseball, the NFL as well as for private events.  Zambelli produces more than 2,200 fireworks shows each year, according to Inc. Magazine.


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