The dot-com boom gave Rehder Construction a taste of $600,000 projects and an onslaught of new competitors eager to cash in on the remodeling boom. The dot-com bust put many of those novices out of business and compelled veteran Steve Rehder (fourth from left) to create systems, get serious about marketing, and carve out a niche of projects in the $175,000 to $200,000 range.

“It's a whole different world,” says Rehder, who now adheres to a monthly marketing plan of action: revise the Web site one month, send past clients a newsletter the next, update company brochures the following month. He also joined a remodeling peer group and started working with a Sandler sales coach. Such initiatives are helping him avoid bidding situations and establishing him as “the go-to guy” in his preferred geographic areas.

A former high school woodshop teacher, Rehder strives to make his employees excellent teachers and communicators themselves. Besides paying for their industry certifications, he walks his lead carpenters through monthly profit and loss statements, encourages them to train their helpers, and educates them about long-term retirement savings, which he supports through annual profit-sharing certificates.