Interior designer Jo Lynn Johnson went to work for kitchen remodeling company Crystal Cabinet 20 years ago and has stayed, spending the last 11 years as the owner. Though the company started out designing and selling cabinets for new-home builders, Johnson steered it away from that focus to the more lucrative business of kitchen and bath remodeling. “You're dealing with the end-user, you have more control of the job, and you have higher markups,” she says. “It's more challenging than selling cookie-cutter cabinets.”

In addition to Johnson, Crystal has three full-time designers. A project manager handles scheduling subcontractors. The single field employee performs a range of tasks including warranty work.

Johnson recently purchased a building and remodeled it to house the company's new showroom. It will have 19 displays and a working kitchen with seating for 24 for seminars and cooking lessons. Although the company's average job for 2005 was $65,000, this year repeat clients are moving Crystal toward larger additions and whole-house projects.