In his 13 years in business, Anthony Cucciniello has learned from the school of hard knocks. He parlayed his decks and basements practice into a thriving company in great demand by high-end clients in and around New York City. He completes about 50 projects a year — 60% are residential remodels in the city and in Westchester County and Long Island. His commercial work consists of restaurants, retail, office renovations, and city projects.

The key, he says, is knowing to the penny what it takes to operate his business. “We have 22 open jobs this month. I know what it takes to get those jobs done and where we need to be financially,” he says. Cucciniello created his own financial templates using Microsoft Excel to help track jobs.

He embraces technology and supplies his project managers with Blackberries so that they are always in touch. “My Blackberry is the key to communicating with customers,” he says. “I contact my clients at least once or twice a day.” Increasingly, that contact is via e-mail, which Cucciniello says is non-intrusive, but lets clients know that someone is at their site.