It was “Just Another Fun Afternoon” when Dale Armstrong launched JAFA Enterprises, but what began playfully is now a serious role model for other remodelers. “I firmly believe in education for this industry,” Armstrong says. Certified to teach eight courses through the National Association of Home Builders, his employees are loyal, he says, “because I provide an environment that allows them a career.”

Armstrong is open-book, sharing job-cost reports, marketing data, and company profit-and-loss and income statements. In his office, a mayonnaise jar stuffed with $7,000 in “good fake cash” becomes a very real cash bonus if his lead carpenters bring in all projects on budget and on time.

He sends staff to year-round educational programs, including a new National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) certification that he teaches for residential construction superintendents.

JAFA Enterprises does new construction as well as remodeling, but there's little developable land on the “absolutely gorgeous” Kitsap Peninsula. So Armstrong bought a small lot to build 10 Arts & Crafts-style bungalows. It's his most ambitious project yet, but he expects the houses to “go like hot cakes. We're paying particular attention to the detail,” he says.