Mike Fast (right) examines all aspects of his company to find how to more effectively handle everything from production to product selection to hiring. From the time he started his company in his junior year of college to now, he's concentrated on efficiency. Early on, he analyzed the number of older homes in Tacoma and decided to focus on design/build remodeling.

He has a designer who works on interior layouts and one who helps customers choose colors. "We find an employee's talent and create or pursue work to match it," he says. It takes six to eight months to hire an employee to make sure they fit the company culture.

A business consultant helps him interview employees, facilitate management meetings, upgrade computers, and plan retreats. Due to this systems approach, the company was able to quickly adjust its plan to meet the challenges of the post-September 11th market by targeting smaller jobs and more insurance work.