Clients and friends are often one and the same for Leslie King, whose reputation within some of Houston's “inner-loop” communities is that of a detail-oriented remodeler who cares. “I look at jobs in terms of my clients' comfort level,” says King, who believes her perspective as a woman and a mother sharpens her attention to issues such as clean jobsites and respectful crews. She's a realist, however, and clients know things could go wrong. “I spend so much time educating them up front that when they do hit that spot, it's almost humorous,” she says.

Once in Greymark Construction's circle, clients stay in. Other than charity work through her church or Habitat for Humanity, King markets almost exclusively to her base. She mails them five or six pieces a year, including a lottery ticket that always generates calls. She also systematically contacts at least three clients every week, often through a friendly note clipped to a relevant article. Finally, she hosts an open house most years at a client's home. “It's a party,” she says. Up to 250 guests bring their friends, and the circle expands.

Greymark Construction's family spirit also extends to its staff, including King's bilingual “office angel” who smooths out communications with Spanish-speaking trade contractors. “Employees know my door is open,” King says. She encourages them to take time off, especially to be with their families. “The work is always going to be here.”—L.T.