“One of my strong points is, I get along with clients,” Ryan Schleper (second from right) says. “They believe I can do what I say I’m going to do.”

Not many remodelers are that convincing. Ryan Schleper “grew up on a farm and was always fixing stuff.” Before he got into remodeling, he spent six months selling insurance and discovered that “people don’t want to buy something intangible.” His aptitude for putting things together and his knack for selling were a perfect combination of traits for a remodeler.

An unhappy experience with a partnership five years ago convinced him that there could only be one commander-in-chief. “My job,” he says, “is to make sure everybody else is doing their job.” The experience also convinced him of the need to invest time and funds in developing systems for his company. He selected additions, renovations, and whole-house remodels as a target market, because doing kitchens and baths “requires specialized training and staff to do it right.” In the past three years he’s more than tripled his sales. Last year Schleper exceeded his target sales goal by 30 percent.