The remodeling boom didn't linger in Jim Basnett's part of Massachusetts, but his company has stayed flush thanks to a combination of conviction, discipline, and market smarts.

“I adopted a policy when I started that I wouldn't work with anyone who I didn't respect, or who didn't respect others,” Basnett says. Field staff happily tote his “field guide of construction standards,” and subcontractors pledge to behave professionally in clients' homes. Classical music isn't uncommon on his job-sites, he says.

Despite being set up to handle much bigger jobs, Basnett stays focused on his “sweet spot” of $100,000 to $500,000. Winter field policies, such as insulating the ground before a freeze, keep jobs on track despite uncooperative weather. The company has recently incorporated an interior designer into all projects to streamline selections and improve outcomes; implemented a sliding markup scale; and created an in-depth database for estimating and job-costing. Such innovations helped the company squeak out a profit even in 2005, when three clients pulled projects due to sudden health, work, or financial setbacks.