Mitchell Construction aced an unusual test last year. Dehydrated by an illness he picked up in Mexico, Tom Mitchell fainted on the flight back, fractured his neck, and spent three months recuperating while employees ran his company. “They went way beyond what I expected,” he says. The company's culture helps shape that can-do attitude. A clearly articulated mission and values statement spells out its commitment to “providing a safe, creative, and enthusiastic work environment,” and to embodying values including trust, respect, and financial integrity.

“It's every little thing you do” that sets a company apart, Mitchell believes. His project managers wrote his quality assurance plan, and even his warranties exceed the norm. “We just fixed a shower that's eight years old,” he says. The company has won the National Association of the Remodeling Industry's excellence in customer satisfaction award the last three years.

Mitchell's mission also extends to creating “homes of exceptional quality and elegance.” Mitchell Construction has won at least 10 design awards since 2003, while quietly performing probono work and even leading a televised “Extreme Makeover” project. Having Mitchell at the helm “made the work flow” and the people involved “overjoyed to be part of it,” wrote a colleague of that “wildly difficult” project.