A registered nurse at a time when such a vocation couldn’t support a family, Blaine Justesen (front) went into ice cream, pizza, and bread company route sales until he was left jobless by a buy-out. “If I was going to lose a job, or have problems, it was going to be my fault,” Justesen decided. He started a cleaning company with $12,000 he had earmarked to build his home. Cleaning carpets day and night, he often slept in a converted U-Haul van. He and his employees became known as the cleaning guys in white shirts and ties (ties were later shed, although uniforms are still in order).

Justesen eased into remodeling through water damage repair and help from a contractor. Now remodeling makes up 75 percent of his business. In a community of 16,000, he wins 80 percent of insurance claims and has run the competition out of town. Justesen, an IICRC master cleaner, honed his practices through the peer review-based Business Networks. Always eager to improve, he recently installed GPS chips in his six trucks to track itineraries and to ensure efficiencies. Employees understand it’s not a Big Brother ploy but crucial to JRCC innovation and profit principles. The same culture gives employees freedom to fail and learn.