Former U.S. Marine Ed Ladouceur bought his company from his former partner on installment over 10 years. He has applied a disciplined mindset to running a highly profitable, employee-friendly firm ever since.

StormTite works throughout Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts and is known for the detailing on the 150 siding jobs it does annually -- none look obviously "vinyl." The company has twice won the Vinyl Siding Institute's historical application award.

"We've learned people are willing to pay for a detailed siding job," Ladouceur says.

Ladouceur served on the Better Business Bureau until appointed to the state Contractors' Registration Board, which regulates 9,000 residential contractors. He's in line to be the first remodeler president of the Rhode Island Builders Association in 2004 and was recently appointed by the lieutenant governor to the Small Business Advocacy Council.

Ladouceur's tenacity was key in getting legislation passed requiring contractors with less than three employees to carry workers' comp protection -- a move that leveled the playing field for larger contractors faced with competing against small shops.