Ever since 1992 when Ben Auger (front, center) decided that working as a self-employed carpenter out of the back of his truck was not fulfilling his ambitions, he’s been earning a solid reputation as a businessman, craftsman, and employer.

In his high-end, historic-district market, the three go hand in hand. Auger hires employees who, like him, are college educated but have chosen to work in residential remodeling. “I pick people based on personality first and skill level second,” Auger says, and he provides them with detailed, on-site, step-by-step training and a supportive and fun work environment. “It’s like choosing friends, because the best work environment is one that’s enjoyable, creative, and cooperative.” His next goal is to take the cooperative model further with employee ownership.

The motivated staff he’s assembled has become his emblem of quality. A full 96 percent of his clients come from referrals, so “they’ve seen the high quality work,” Auger says. When they wince at a realistic estimate, he can sell the job with the promise of a team that “knows how to take care of you while working in your home.”