Bad weather is good business for Purofirst Disaster Services. When storms collapse roofs or lightning ignites buildings, one of the company's seven emergency crews can dispatch in minutes “at any hour of day or night,” says Rob Hunter. Giving crew members their own trucks, so they don't have to go to the warehouse and pick one up, is just one of his trump cards in the increasingly challenging business of disaster restoration. “The industry is changing so much,” says Hunter, with insurers “trying to squeeze out every single dollar. I'm a firm believer that you've got to change with the industry or be eaten up.”

His company, the second-to-largest Purofirst franchise in the nation, is in no such danger. Its new, $1.3 million facility streamlines the process of packing, cleaning, and storing the possessions of damaged homes. Two full-time marketers pay monthly visits to every insurance agency within 60 or 70 miles. And Hunter's employees, almost half of whom have been with him for five or more years, have “the best tools” to do their jobs, with benefits and compensation to match.