Published: Dec 31, 2010 6:46 AM EST
Updated: Dec 31, 2010 1:43 AM EST

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - As 2010 closes out, many businesses found themselves closing their doors. But, some flourished this year despite the economic downturn. However, it wasn't all rose-colored glasses, even for the ones that made money. Some had to make hard decisions, while others had to roll up their sleeves.

"Back when I started the company it was what I called beg, borrow, steal," Sonya Carns jokes.

Sixteen years later, Carns and her husband turned Ag-Tronix from a $200 investment into a million dollar company. They're a green company specializing in large scale water management and conservation, a tool that saved farmers millions this year.

"Monitoring and keeping the irrigation going to help keep the temps a little bit warmer at the plants is very beneficial," she explains.

2010 was hard, and they did have to cut back employee hours; but, to stay out of the red Carns relied on the same rules she lived by when she started the company.

"Watching every penny, nickel, and dime. If we didn't need to buy parts, or we didn't need to buy anything, we didn't buy any extra."

Being a green company may have helped them grow all over the country because of tougher government regulations on water use.

Another company making money this year, Choice Environmental, they collect rash around the state.

"You have to make a decision, you're going to keep the business running and be aggressive and pick up new business and go after your competitor, or close up," Jim Wheatley with Choice Environmental explains.

He says the franchise re-vamped from just taking care of Port-O-Lets to picking up trash, and did a lot of strategizing before 2010. They picked up new districts and more than $16 million in new revenue, allowing them to hire nearly 100 more employees.

The Immokalee CRA says Florida Specialties is another company that expanded in 2010. They're building a new plant that will make microwavable packages of vegetables, a niche market they branched out into with few competitors in Florida.

RENEE STOLL, REPORTER

renee.stoll@winknews.com