Now, it's remarkable enough that a global supplier of glassware, chemicals, and scientific instruments could continue to grow at all during a period that encompassed a steep recession and a weak economic recovery.
But this is a company whose roots extend to the antebellum year 1852. It's nestled on the list between Texas Air Composites, of Fort Worth, Texas (No. 4,844) and Fig Leaf Software, of Washington. (No. 4,846) - both preteens founded in 2000.
VWR is also one of three dozen or so companies on the Inc. list, including Facebook Inc. and Splunk Inc., that file quarterly financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That's because the once-public VWR, which was taken private in 1999, has about $2.8 billion in debt outstanding, including publicly traded senior notes.
On a revenue basis, VWR is bigger than Unisys Corp., the publicly traded information-technology company based in Blue Bell that reported revenue of $3.85 billion in 2011.
Juiced by VWR's size, the 128 Philadelphia-area Inc. 5000 companies generated total revenue of $8.34 billion in 2011 and employed 44,795 globally. Collectively, that would place the group between Campbell Soup Co. ($7.72 billion) and Crown Holdings Inc. ($8.64 billion) among the region's biggest publicly held companies.
The number of Philadelphia-area companies on the Inc. 5000 list is down from the 143 that made the cut in 2011. But many of the companies are making repeat appearances. Of the 128 on this year's list, 76 showed up on the 2011 version, 48 on the 2010 list, and 31 on the 2009 list. Double-, triple-, and quadruple-digit revenue-growth rates are hard to maintain.
Want the names and stats for all 128? Go to the page on Inc.'s website that shows the Philadelphia-area gazelles at http://is.gd/IZOerm.
Contact Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or @PhillyInc on Twitter. Read his blog, "PhillyInc," at www.phillyinc.biz.