Who says a college geology degree doesn't pay in remodeling? Tim Shigley, an oil company geologist until left unemployed by an oil bust, entered remodeling with a "dream and a truck," doing odd jobs and working at a lumberyard until a commercial job launched his business.

By 1998, Shigley was able to shed his toolbelt to concentrate on running his company full time. Now his knowledge of clay soils helps him direct his two carpenters and his subs in proper foundation systems. He includes 10-year structural warranties on additions, the only Wichita-area contractor to do so.

Shigley teams up with 100 subcontracting trades companies. To always have crews ready, he weekly ranks partners in a football-like depth chart, first to third string, so "positions" are always filled and he can always complete jobs.

Shigley has always sought to improve his business, regularly attending seminars and trade shows and reading industry publications. "If I didn't read, I wouldn't be in business today," he says.