Looking back on a "horrific" year, Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens says being prepared helped his company weather the storm and left it well-positioned to rebound in 2010. Having drafted detailed plans in 2005 for dealing with a market crash and having retained flexibility by hiring temporary workers during its recent expansion, the construction-equipment company was able to slash costs rapidly when the crunch came. "We actually sustained operating profit every quarter," Owens says.

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