Water. Energy. Transportation. Communications. The infrastructure that underpins these four things is the key to the modern world. It connects communities and nations together, and supplies individuals and businesses with the things they need to survive and to thrive. 

Yet the companies behind that infrastructure often get overlooked as investments, despite having the prospects for immense growth in the years ahead. According to the G20 Global Infrastructure Hub, it's going to take more than $90 trillion in investment by 2040 to modernize and grow the world's infrastructure. 

Urban skyline.

Image source: Getty Images.

So, before you overlook infrastructure as a boring, low-growth sector of the market, take a closer look at fast-growing engineering and consulting company NV5 Global (NASDAQ:NVEE), infrastructure asset operator and investor Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE:BIPC)(NYSE:BIP), and wind turbine manufacturing giant Vestas Wind Systems (OTC:VWDRY)

Wind at its back

Vestas is a bit of a rarity because it's a stand-alone, pure-play investment in the wind turbine business. Its biggest competition comes from industrial conglomerates General Electric (NYSE:GE) and Siemens, as well as privately owned Chinese company Goldwind. Combined, these four manufacturers account for more than half of global wind turbine orders, and in recent years, Vestas has routinely commanded the largest share of the market. 

Over the past five years, it has been an incredible winner for investors, following a restructuring that refocused the company on its core strengths.

VWDRY Total Return Price Chart

VWDRY Total Return Price data by YCharts

Vestas is maintaining its leadership position. When it reported second-quarter results on Aug. 11, revenue was up 67%, with strong growth in highly profitable services. The company reported a massive 35 billion euro order backlog, including almost 19 billion euros in long-term contracted service revenue. 

Technology and cost are big drivers for wind and for Vestas' future. Today's wind turbines generate power more cheaply than almost any hydrocarbon-fueled power plant, and the falling cost of energy storage is set to drive even more of the world's power infrastructure investment toward wind. 

While competition will remain fierce, Vestas is well-positioned to remain a big winner for years to come as the world transitions to cleaner, more secure energy sources like wind for its energy needs. 

Building the future

While the bulk of the trillions of dollars that will have to be invested in global infrastructure will go toward steel, concrete, fiber optic cables, and equipment, a significant portion will go toward paying the experts who will design, implement, and manage the construction of infrastructure projects. 

NV5 Global has already capitalized on this opportunity. Since going public in 2013, its revenue has surged 820% while operating cash flow has increased by 445%. 

Investors have enjoyed a market-crushing return of about 682% since the IPO as a result.

NVEE Chart

NVEE data by YCharts

Yet over the past couple of years, the company's share price has fallen. Shares are down 32% from their mid-2018 peak as earnings growth has stalled. 

I think this protracted sell-off has created an incredible opportunity for investors. NV5 Global's cash flows are still growing, and management has a great track record of execution that has set the company up for many more years of success. Founder and CEO Dickerson Wright owns nearly one-quarter of its shares, so there is a strong alignment of interests between shareholders and management. 

In sum, this is a founder-led business with a track record of strong performance in an industry with enormous growth ahead of it. With trailing-12-month revenue of less than $600 million, NV5 Global is set to be a big winner in the multitrillion-dollar global infrastructure space. 

The invisible winner

Since it went public in early 2008, Brookfield Infrastructure has proven an incredible investment, delivering total returns -- including dividends paid -- of 506%. That's more than twice what the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEMKT:SPY) returned over the same period:

BIP Total Return Price Chart

BIP Total Return Price data by YCharts

Yet chances are, you could ask 10 people if they're familiar with this five-bagger investment, and you'd get just as many "no" answers in response. That's because Brookfield Infrastructure is the kind of amazing wealth-building business that hides in plain sight.

The company, a subsidiary of alternative asset investment management giant Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM), owns and operates the water, energy, transportation, and communications infrastructure that underpins modern life. 

What do investors get out of it? How about a wonderful dividend that yields 4.6% at recent share prices. Moreover, since the company went public, it has increased its payout by 725%, and management aims to keep growing it by about 8% every year. 

Put it all together, and you get a business with amazing growth prospects and a remarkable track record of paying investors every quarter and giving them a raise every year. Whether it's income or growth you're after, Brookfield Infrastructure is a buy-now stock worth owning for decades. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.