The economy in 2008 will go down as one of the worst, what with home values and car sales dropping, consumer spending slowed, the government bailing out the financial industry and plunges in the stock market not seen in decades. What, then, does all this mean next year for the 2009 Fastest Growing Private Companies list? Those industries most affected by the sluggish economy will most likely not be represented. Those industries that thrive in or adapt to tough times will remain. Inclusion on the list is based on revenues over the preceding three year period. The 2008 list included car dealerships, a home builder, home furnishers and decorators, and financial services firms but it may be safe to say that in a year that will not be the case. Take the car dealers. In an already tough year, October was the toughest month for new car sales since January 1991. Sales slumped by 32 percent compared with a year ago. “We are seeing no growth whatsoever in the next year and, if anything, contraction among certain groups,” said auto industry analyst Mark Rikess, of The Rikess Group in Burbank. Bob Smith BMW/Mini and Saturn of the Valley were the car dealers making the fast growing list There was nothing that he could see in the coming year that would continue to safeguard those brands from what the rest of the auto industry faces. There will be dealers who go out of business and especially vulnerable will be those selling cars made by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, Rikess said. Given the real estate market, home builders and associated companies providing home furnishings, decorations and landscaping will struggle to make future lists. But next year’s list might still have some construction companies if they are doing non-residential work. That sector of the industry has slowed down from a quick growing 2007, said Dan Blake, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge. C.A. O’Reilly & Associates, the number one company on the list, operates in that sector of the construction industry as a contractor and manager of commercial, office and industrial space. Manufacturers should appear again on the list in a year, especially those in the aerospace, high tech, and biomedical industries. “Anybody in the export business would have a good shot,” Blake said. Other industries that may have difficulties getting onto next year’s list would be those relying on discretionary consumer restaurants and retail stores. “A lot of experts in marketing say we have moved past the age of bling and companies may have difficulties creating a value proposition in consumers’ minds,” said Jack Kyser, senior vice president and chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Like manufacturing, the healthcare companies and suppliers to that industry will be likely to appear on the list in a year. Another growth industry is technology as those companies tend to innovate. Makers of storage systems and providers of software-as-a-service will do well in a down economy because what they offer is considered “must have” for businesses to operate, said Ben Kuo, the founder of tech industry website SoCalTech.com. “Even in a down economy there are new markets opening up and people wanting to do things cheaper, faster, better and therefore the tech guys tend to be servicing that need,” Kuo said.