After 10 years as a residential and commercial painting contractor, during which time he just about wore out his shoulder painting, Ben Yanker (wearing long-sleeved, green shirt, standing next to his wife, Gail) took a chance and diversified his business into fire and water insurance restoration. It was risky because there was already a major independent contractor doing restoration in Bozeman, Mont. (population 30,000).

Today, Buffalo Restoration, which offers painting, carpentry, and cleaning, is the major provider of insurance restoration services in the area. It would be hard to spend a day driving around without seeing the company’s dozen white trucks with the block lettering and big black buffalo on them.

The secret to successful restoration work, Yanker points out, is “to focus on the emotional aspect of the situation. We let [clients] know their emotions are going to go from the deep dark depths to sky high.” That—along with technical expertise—gives the company its edge in a close market.