Being named one of IndustryWeek's 100 Best-Managed Companies for five years running is no small feat, but 36 manufacturers have done just that. General Electric Co., Avon Products Inc., and Minnesota Mining & Mfg. Co. have earned that distinction. So, too, have Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Computer Corp., and Cemex SA de CV. No surprise here. GE's adoption of Six Sigma, Avon's marketing savvy, and 3M's commitment to innovation have helped make them perennial winners. Likewise, Cisco's incredible Internet-driven growth, Dell's value-chain and lean-manufacturing practices, and Cemex's guaranteed, timely deliveries to customers have helped them earn five-time honors. Volumes could be written about the accomplishments of our 100 companies. Each company is a leader in its industry and demonstrates superior management skills in areas such as financial performance, innovation, leadership, globalization, alliances and partnerships, employee benefits and education, and community involvement. Perhaps Warren Bennis and Raj Aggarwal, two of our judges, best defined IndustryWeek's elite group of 100. "All of the companies understand that the key to competitive advantage in this century will be the capacity of top leadership to create social architecture capable of penetrating intellectual capital," says Bennis, a professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles. Adds Aggarwal, a professor of corporate finance at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio: "The best-managed companies are able to integrate and implement the new-economy virtues of speed and e-commerce with the old-economy virtues of generating profit, market share, and excellent customer service." Selecting 100 companies for the fifth time certainly was not an easy task. Acquisitions eliminated some past winners while others lacked enough support from judges to remain among the finalists. Twenty companies on our list in 1999 do not appear this year. Sixteen companies appear for the first time; among them are Eaton Corp., Guidant Corp., Paccar Inc., and Valero Energy Corp. Twenty-four companies appear for the second time, 17 for the third time, and seven for the fourth time. Twenty-one industries are represented. The top three include: electronic/electric equipment, 20; motor vehicles and parts, 11; and pharmaceuticals, 10. Thirteen countries are represented. The top three are the U.S. with 74; Japan, six; and Germany, four. The top U.S. state represented is California, with 12 companies. Illinois, New Jersey and New York tied for second with eight companies each on IW's list.