Bruce Merrell says that combining remodeling and new construction has proved to be a winning formula for his business. “They marry together very well. I am a better builder because I've remodeled houses,” he says. Merrell has high-end clients who want to build or remodel their existing houses or their vacation properties.

Merrell promotes himself as the “house doctor.” In this capacity, he takes care of all house needs including repair work and following up after fire or storm damage. Laredo Construction's service is especially comforting to out-of-town clients. To communicate with clients as far away as China and Australia, Merrell uses digital photos and e-mail to keep them in the loop. “The digital camera is incredible. I can e-mail the client instantly and discuss the project and keep things rolling,” he says.

At the end of the project, Merrell presents his customers with a disc of images from different stages of the job. He is also a pilot and the owner of a commercial charter company. He often takes residential clients on a flight to view their lot from the air. “It's especially helpful on large acreage,” he says. “It helps firm up the placement of the house and the location of the driveway.”