A fall from scaffolding 10 years ago had Steve Hilliard laid up for six months. At the time, he was working for a framing contractor. Hilliard used the time to study for his GC license. Back on his feet, he took the exam and passed. Immediately thereafter he started working on his first addition.

In the past couple of years he's backed out of working in the field, though not without considerable apprehension. "I still keep a tool belt in the back of my truck. I have a hard time getting rid of that thing," he says.

Generating work by referral and building a reputation for quality has taken Hilliard Contracting to the point where people are willing to wait for the company's services. That kind of client, Hilliard says, means "less headaches and more fun."