John Hanson's business career is typical of many Big50s. He started out by working for another remodeler for a couple years, then did a project on his own. The next thing he knew, he was in business for himself, and in his words, “spent the next 10 years or so wearing all hats.” His brother, Chris, joined the company in the late 1990s, and since then, the pair has “become serious about building a business,” according to John (left).

The company keeps a contact list of roughly 1,200 names that includes not just past customers and other homeowner leads, but architects, interior designers, and trade contractors as well. Keeping the company's name on the tips of the tongues of other people in the industry has helped Hanson General Contracting build relationships that lead to work down the road. John says that his company works so closely with one architect that the homeowner is basically getting a design/build project, just with two different contracts.