Some companies recall their salad days, but brothers Mark (second from left) and Phil (far left) Cantor have a soupier story. Starting out with $500 of credit and a Fiat jobmobile, they recall eating three nights straight from a commercial-sized can of vegetable soup. They learned carpentry in their teens through odd jobs for the builder who developed their Duncanville, Pa., neighborhood. At Penn State, they supplemented their fraternity experience with more jobs. Mark moved south with grad school intentions but soon was absorbed with his part-time painting and handyman business. Phil later joined him. They learned that honesty and trust build solid relationships.

Today, now averaging $125,000 jobs, they’re still building relationships and bringing class to the industry. Hot prospects visit some of Jendell’s “alumni list” of remodeled homes on a “Magical Mystery Tour.” Clients “say, ‘It’s odd that every customer kisses you,’” Mark says. “I say, ‘You’re going to kiss me, too.’”

The company’s kitchen and bath showroom’s computerized design software is used by on-staff CKDs to help clients visualize jobs in color. Spec remodel jobsites double as employee training grounds. Jendell’s success on that front means it could capitalize those jobs without outside financing. “Not bad for a bunch of hillbillies from Pennsylvania,” Mark says.