Repairs Unlimited does 1,600 jobs each year, but “we don't own a hammer, and we don't own a truck,” says president Jigger James (far right). What he and his co-owners do have is a system of matching homeowners and insurance companies with contractor “partners” who he describes as “good craftsmen but often lousy businessmen.”

Yet RU is more than a matching service. Most of its staff are account representatives who know enough about construction to sell, scope out, and oversee projects. Given remarkable latitude in how they perform their jobs, they are limited only by their contractors (all must pass background checks and have solid track records), results (clients are surveyed after each job), and profits (gross margins must be at least 30%). RU typically takes 20% to 25% of the project price. The rest goes to its contractors, “who can get into our computer any time and see what we make on the job,” says James, a former corporate attorney.

Highly diversified, RU has a second office in Denver and does some government and commercial contracting. Its bread and butter, however, is residential. “We've done well over 100 jobs for some people,” James says.