“We do remodeling without planning,” explains Ron Reese (back row, third from right) of his firm’s insurance restoration work. “We’re dealing with people who are distraught, emotional. We’re going to continue to tear your house apart, so we need to develop a relationship in a very short period of time.”

REE-Construction has the formula down: In its Wood River Valley resort community of 17,000 full-time residents, 70 percent of its business is referral. The company restores home contents, remediates mold, and uses HEPA-grade air filters on all jobs—damaged or otherwise—to minimize dust and mold. “In a small market, you have to do a lot of things to be viable,” Reese says.

The company uses digital cameras to document site conditions and progress. It electronically submits photos and estimates to insurance adjusters and out-of-town clients.

Reese, a certified restorer and water loss specialist (he was the first to get the WLS designation), boosted his profile by working two years as president of the Water Loss Institute. But he knows it’s his employees who are the first contact with customers. He gives them freedom to make decisions—and mistakes. And most Fridays after work, he buys them a beer.