Jim Benoit (right) and John Czarnecki were production manager and estimator, respectively, at a well-known suburban Philadelphia remodeling company when they decided to start their own operation. They aimed at the niche of upper-end customers already familiar to them and aspired to six-figure remodels. It took four months to land one.

“Part of the the hurdle,” Benoit, president of his local NARI chapter, recalls, “was anyone's fear of a brand new company doing a very large job.” Today, technically challenging jobs are a specialty.

Benoit, who has a degree in construction technology from the local community college, set up a program to offer company employees tuition reimbursement for similar courses. An apprentice program and involvement in the local trade school (where Benoit sits on the advisory committee) help draw new talent to the company.