Long before investment firms and banks failed, credit markets froze, Detroit ran out of gas, and the government ponied up billions of dollars in bailout money, some CEOs were charting a course that would land their companies on the upside of the 2008 downturn. That's right: despite the dire news streaming out of what's left of Wall Street, the retail sector, and manufacturing, there are companies holding their own — and growing — while the economy withers and markets swoon around them.
Companies fending off the onslaught have one thing in common: They can thank yesterday's management calls for today's relatively soft landing. The companies profiled here made solid management decisions in strategic growth, marketing, and positioning that others in their industries clearly did not. Here's what some managers did to give their companies an advantage — long before they knew they'd need it.