Renaissance Restoration president Terry Cole is that rare remodeling contractor who can truly say he has no competition. The work his company does is so specialized — and of such high quality — that historic preservation societies in three states enlist its services for masonry, painting, and carpentry. The company has done projects in Puerto Rico and may soon have a project in Hawaii. Cole himself is often called on to consult on work that is a long time away from even being scheduled.

That reputation, however, has its downsides. With employees taking company vehicles as many as six hours away and spending several nights a week on the road, Renaissance's overhead is sky-high. Yet Cole has managed to steer the company profitably for more than three decades, in spite of the fact that its clients' budgets — being mostly municipal — are generally smaller than he would like.

In addition to its headquarters in Galena, Renaissance Restoration has an office in Davenport, Iowa, and a recently opened location in Des Moines. Always looking for qualified labor, Cole mines the Restoration College Center in nearby Mt. Carroll, Ill., — where he learned the trade, himself, years ago — for employees. “It's dirty work compared to new construction,” Cole says, “but our carpenters are highly skilled.” —