Darcy Lauzier admits to running a practice, but what a practice. She cultivates intense client relationships and relies on dedicated subs to do six jobs a year ranging up to $500,000 each.

To accomplish that, she treats subs like employees. "I need these guys," she says. They, in turn, need her connections.

She takes carpenters to architectural shows to update them on products, hosts holiday parties, and rewards those working on difficult jobs. She buys her subcontracted draftsman the latest software, so that her designs are of the highest caliber.

Cantilevered steel beam bump-outs are a hallmark of Lauzier's designs. She doesn't want to waste money on foundations, isn't impressed with the available labor in that trade, and would rather see clients put money into nice layouts.

At the end of a project, Lauzier hires a local celebrity chef to demonstrate finished kitchens, gaining leads from clients' friends invited to taste gourmet food. This way, she keeps leads personal and meaningful -- as well as profitable.