Despite the downturn, outdoor clothing and gear supplier Patagonia just had the best two years in its history, racking up close to $650 million in sales. The secret, says founder Yvon Chouinard, is his determination to make Patagonia the best rather than the biggest company in its sector, and his willingness to refuse growth opportunities that would require the company to dilute its brand. "The key to surviving a conservative economy is quality," Chouinard says.

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