The educational rigors former wildlife biologist Cary Butler (right, in blazer, next to Linda; Bill is at left, holding drill) puts his carpenters through—they actually get pop quizzes—have paid off handsomely in the form of a passel of construction excellence awards. What kinds of things does he ask? Oh, for example, how many rises and runs on a complicated stairway. “So for the guys who want to go from carpenter apprentice to project leader, it shows them there’s a path,” Butler says. Butler says he believes in promoting “accountability and responsibility.” Part of his mission as owner and manager is to clear away mental roadblocks.

Butler Construction Services dominates its small-town market in the Pacific Northwest, where many competitors still operate out of their trucks. The company funds an annual trip to Las Vegas with the rebate its perfect safety record consistently earns on its state industrial insurance program. Butler recently did some work for an attorney involved in representing several lawsuits against remodelers. “She said, ‘You’re the only one in town that hasn’t been in my office.’”