When a man wanted a classically designed, 320-square-foot mahogany conservatory in which to breed butterflies, he contacted Zeigler & Associates. The $235,000 job included waterfalls, a fishpond, Argentinean soil, an advanced HVAC system, and time-delayed sprinklers. “It’s never been done before,” says David Zeigler (far right). “We’ve been working out the details in the field.”

Intricate work for preferred clients is what drives this company, whose $650,000 remodels are sprinkled with pool cabanas and a new home each year. “It’s being in the circle of people I’m in, growing with them,” says the owner of this word-of-mouth business. “Once we’re involved, they’re our client and we intend for their children to be our clients as well.”

Zeigler, self-employed since he was 20, has vocational education and handyman work behind him. He has ridden out the 1980s recessions, leaving Ohio “with the clothes on my back.” After a brief stint with a subcontractor, he found his niche, not far from New York’s Westchester County.

His employees’ average age is 35, and they worked under the lead carpenter system before it became cachet. They focus on finishes, subcontracting the rest of the work. The system will be tested this summer with the start of a 26,000-square-foot mansion.