Laid off by a corporate giant in 1985, former engineer Daniel Mackey became a remodeler because, he says, “I had an opportunity to fall back on some carpentry skills.” Today, he and wife, Debbie (back), view the layoff as a blessing in disguise. “We love what we're doing,” Dan says.

In his first decade in business, Dan worked alone, happy “just to please clients and be a great craftsman,” he says. A motorcycle accident served as a reality check, and he saw the need for a company that could operate without him. He joined a trade association, was chapter president for three years, and remains active nationally in education and green building. Debbie joined the company in 2004 and is president of the same chapter.

The Mackeys run a smart business that exemplifies the kinds of best practices that even a much larger company would admire. Team hiring, for instance, ensures that new employees feel welcome from their first day on the job. The company as a whole is involved in community service; one carpenter spent a week in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. And in a stroke of marketing genius, the company — in partnership with manufacturers and appliance distributors — is creating a green “show house” across from its office.