Chuck Gabbert (with daughter, Kari) knows his company's strengths and its limitations, and he resists the temptation to test either. “Our favorite jobs are $15,000 bathrooms and $30,000 kitchens,” he says. “The guys are really tuned into projects of this size,” which also require less “baby-sitting” than more upscale projects seem to demand.

There's also the profitability angle. As a longtime franchisee of DreamMaker (and its predecessor, Worldwide Refinishing), Gabbert pays no markup on most kitchen and bath products. “I could do the same kitchen for $30,000 or $60,000,” he says, “depending on how you dress it up. What helps us on our lower-end kitchens is buying the products direct and installing them quickly.”

Gabbert could easily multiply his revenues but wants to grow “only when we have the guys in place to do the work right.” He expects revenues to reach $1.6 million this year, fueled by a steady pipeline of work and supported by a showroom building — the value of which has risen tenfold since he bought it. He is also president of his local home builders' association.