Bruce Bowers (right) combined his love of design, business, and construction into a personalized degree at the University of Maryland. He was self-employed right out of high school and built decks and finished basements to work his way through the program. Bowers uses his artistic eye and construction background to create beautiful and practical plans.

At Bowers Construction, an architect develops detailed concept drawings, while Bruce handles the electrical layouts and detail specifications. That team approach to design has paid off in the form of several design awards, including NARI Southeast Contractor of the Year for whole-house remodels and a Metro D.C. chapter CotY award for the same category.

Bowers relies on his wife, Wilma, to handle marketing and vice president and recent MBA graduate John Coburn for day-to-day operations. "He has allowed us to double our volume with strong systems," Bruce says about Coburn.

Bowers recently hired a former employee of a plumbing supplier to help clients with product selection and plans to hire a full-time architect in the next few years.