Epmark Ranked 40 Ten years ago, condo builders Edward Bacome and Philip Fankhauser formed a franchise operation geared toward simplifying the process of designing, building, and selling active adult condo communities. Epmark, which provides builders with everything they need to get a community off the ground, grew by 26 franchisees in 2004, and the company closed 2,115 units last year.

Bruce Alexander took to the plan immediately. “This is a great recipe. There's no need to reinvent the wheel,” he says, referring to Epmark's copyrighted and patented four-unit, single-story condo design. After paying the $30,000 franchise fee, Alexander, who's built custom homes, assisted living residences, and his own active adult community, broke ground on his first Epmark community in Asheville, N.C. in November 2003.

So far, so good: Alexander's franchise has sold 63 of its 84 homes, and he'll close out the development almost a year earlier than he planned. That's okay, because he already has two more in the works. Like the first, they'll follow the standard Epmark designs, with a few upgrades Alexander opts to include; he expects sales will be equally strong. “I plan to stick with the Epmark model,” he says. “It would be tough to be improved on.”