Alex Dahlgren (right) runs a million-doallar business, yet he cleans each job, at project end, himself.

"I put my hands on every piece of every thing," he says. "You don't miss stuff that way."

Still, his hands-on approach ends there. He has delegated systems and marketing to partner Clint Everest (left), who joined him in 1998, and who's improved profitability. Dahlgren has no field staff. Labor on all jobs is subbed out.

Dahlgren found his knack for construction after graduating from Pratt Institute, ending up in the field for a design/build company. He started Acheron while working as a FedEx deliveryman, asking never to deliver in neighborhoods where he built. Three years later, his solid business enabled him to quit FedEx.

He does all the company's design, on jobs ranging up to $500,000. He markets through home shows, interactive CDs, and his dynamic Web site. Already, by mid-February 2004, he had signed almost $1 million in work.

Dahlgren was working on CR certification while serving as his NARI chapter's second VP. He vacations 21 days each year.