At the Top of Their Game

Competent and creative, these entrepreneurs are small businesses' elite

board-certified, practicing orthopedic surgeon who has invented three patented, FDA-approved devices that help treat patients with musculoskeletal conditions: the Bone Tool, the Hip Tool, and the OT-A.
Instead of starting a company to produce a product, Brannon started OSI with a product already in hand. The Bone Tool introduced a minimally invasive bone grafting technique to the medical world, but he needed a vehicle through which to market it. Soon to follow was the Hip Tool, which is designed to prevent or delay hip replacement, and the OT-A, a device that facilitates bone marrow extraction, will be introduced to the market this year.
Brannon started OSI in 1999 and its revenues have doubled every year since. The 5-year-old company produced revenues of over $1.2 million last year. It also entered into a national distribution agreement to manufacture the Bone Tool for Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK).
RISING STAR NOMINEES
This award recognizes individuals, aged 21-35, whose outstanding skills, professionalism, and perseverance have established them as future business leaders.

Latham Entertainme
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TYPE OF BUSINESS Event coordination and promotion
PRINCIPALS Walter Latham
LOCATION Greensboro, NC
Walter Latham’s business makes people laugh. And as a promoter of comedy shows and comic talent, such as Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Steve Harvey, and Cedric the Entertainer, that’s exactly what he wants it to do.
Latham, 33, entered the spotlight in 1997 when he produced the stand-up comedy showcase The Kings of Comedy featuring Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, and later, D. L. Hughley. Though he started his comedy promotions company more than 10 years ago, The Kings of Comedy, which was eventually repackaged into a motion picture, was his first big success. Soon to follow was The Queens of Comedy tour and motion picture featuring Laura Hayes, Adele Givens, Sommore, and Mo’Nique, as well as other acclaimed comedy and comedy-music showcases.
Having generated $15 million in revenues in 2003, Latham’s business is showing no signs of slowing down. He most recently extended his partnership with Paramount Pictures and created a new label, Latham Entertainment Media, under which he plans to coproduce a motion picture with Sean “P. Diddy” Combs.

ITS Express
TYPE OF BUSINESS Air courier
PRESIDENT/CEO Ricardo Reyes
LOCATION Long Island City, NY
Ricardo Reyes’ firm can deliver anything — from one local letter to tens of thousands of pounds internationally — and it does so for the entertainment, legal, pharmaceutical, banking, and advertising industries. Having held almost every position from driver to director of sales in his more than 16 years in the courier business, 34-year-old Reyes has the experience to back it up.
In four years, Reyes has grown his company from a one-man operation that generated $330,000 in its first year in business to a global network of affiliates that pulled in $3.3 million in revenues last year. The events of 9-11 were a major setback to his business, but Reyes faced the challenge head-on. His staff underwent intensive training in the newly implemented security procedures, and as international trade declined, Reyes concentrated on the domestic market. Eighty-five percent of the company’s business used to be in the

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