Having come up through the ranks of a vocational school's carpentry program and working as union carpenters before founding their company, Jim Shannon (back, third from left) and Tim Dawson (back, third from right) resolved to, in Shannon's words, "treat my employees like I want to be treated."

"Tim and I came up through the trades. We never had vacation pay," Shannon recalls. "We could barely get time off."

T.J. Shannon Construction offers employees many benefits, including health insurance, an IRA plan, paid vacation after the first year, and, for lead carpenters, company trucks.

Shannon, who oversees sales and administration, understands that what comes around, goes around. It's "all a team effort," he says. "If the phone doesn't ring, the guys don't have work. But the quality of their work has gotten us to where we are today."