A company doesn't need a line of top-selling products to be successful if it can produce one essential component that a certain niche market can't do without. Peter Marsh profiles makers of specialized parts that other manufactures have come to rely on. "If a company can demonstrate that it is a master of its niche [through such embedded devices], it is building in a lot of growth potential for the future, plus some resilience against the impact of the kind of downturn the world is going through now," says intellectual property consultant Stephen Potter.

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