Americans love the underdog. We like to see people climb up from the bottom and experience untold triumph. Then they’ve earned the right to be considered heroes. You have to pay your dues, wait in line, endure a few hard knocks before we believe you’re the best.
 
The thing with that story line is, everyone starts from the bottom, in a way. Every athlete has a first game, every story has a beginning, every business has an origin point.
 
So how do you know if your beginnings have the air of triumph? Look at Portland’s appropriately named NBA franchise, the Trail Blazers for instructions. Midway through their first season, in February 1971, Trail Blazers’ play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely created the opening line of the team’s memorable tale. He randomly yelled, “rip city!” when a long shot tied the game.
 
Fast-forward to 2014, and the Trail Blazers are in the Western Conference Playoffs, and “rip city” is all over the town and all over the stadium, chanted by fans and players. “We are rip city.” It’s random, but it means something because of the story of a hard-scrabbling team that moved its way up to the big time.
 
Every year, when we publish the Top 50, we watch stories unfold. Some are familiar, some are surprising. This year, we included more stories than every before, thanks to the hard work of SCN associate editor Lindsey Adler, who gathered a tremendous amount of dazzling insights and project highlights from the Top 50. She also created a new “On Deck” honor for those companies on the cusp of making the list.
 
We all know the drill. The AV industry isn’t just about numbers. It’s about people, companies and regions. It’s about history, innovation and talent. There are qualities that are unquantifiable, but the SCN Top 50 is a benchmark for the business. Entries are voluntary, so if we missed your story, get in touch next year. You might be on the way to rip city.
 
 
1. AVI-SPL
2. Whitlock
3. Diversified Systems
4. AVI Systems
5. Technical Innovation
6. HB Communications
7. Ford Audio-Video
8. Electrosonic
9. Yorktel
10. IVCI
11. Video Corporation of America
12. CEI (Communications Engineering Inc.)
13. TriTech Communications
14. Compview
15. Bluewater Technologies
16. Sharp's Audio Visual
17. Avidex Industries 
18. Unified AV Systems
19. Alpha Video & Audio
20. ProMotion Technology Group (PTG)
21. PlayNetwork
22. Anderson Audio Visual
23. AdTech Systems
24. Digital Networks Group 
25. Corbett Technology Solutions (CTSI)
26. Carousel Industries
27. The Systems Group
28. Soundcom Systems
29. Red Thread Spaces
30. Data Projections 
31. Verrex
32. Parsons Technologies
33. Spinitar
34. Sensory Technologies
35. CEC (Communications Engineering Company)
36. Advanced AV
37. AVDB Group
38. Genesis Integration
39. All Pro Sound
40. Vistacom 
41. Interactive Solutions
42. USIS
43. TSI Technology Solutions
44. Tierney Brothers
45. Rex Electric & Technologies
46. Sound Image
47. Presentation Products
48. Linx Multimedia
49. Level 3 Audio Visual
50. Interactive Digital Solutions