David Merrick's self-effacing explanation for his company's abundant workload is “dumb luck,” but there's more to it than that. Completing roughly 50 jobs a year ranging from $15,000 bathrooms to $250,000 kitchens, Merrick's home-based company is built on a carefully laid foundation of satisfied clients, sophisticated project management, and loyal employees and subcontractors. One electrician has worked with him for 15 years.

An architect by training, Merrick (white shirt) runs a company that is “very much a practice,” with himself as its sole salesperson, designer, and project manager. “When someone hires Merrick, they get me, my design sense, my organizational skills, my dedication to quality.” His ideal project, he says, is kitchen additions. “We don't ever just pull and replace kitchens,” he says. “It's always more complicated than that.”

Very active in his local NARI chapters and local volunteer activities, Merrick recently found a way to marry the two: convincing the chapters to “adopt” and support Rebuilding Together, which remodels homes for low-income families, seniors, and disabled people.