Before 9/11, Zebra Restoration Services had 28 employees and was rapidly growing, though its sales focus was often more on total volume than on profitability. But after the economic slowdown following the attacks, Mike Zboralske (pictured with Janet) scaled back his operation and focused on efficiency.

“We realized that the number that really matters is the bottom line — not the top line,” he says. “Now we're generating the same revenue with 15 employees that we did with 28.” These days, to keep down overhead costs, Zboralske uses trade contractors to handle spikes in business.

The company, which began 15 years ago as a carpet cleaning service, has two divisions. Zboralske runs the restoration division, handling fire and water restoration in addition to mold remediation, and he plans to expand his company's services during the coming year to include indoor air purification. His construction manager, Rondell Wiley, is in charge of the construction division.

Zboralske holds monthly meetings with his entire staff, during which they discuss all aspects of the business. Employees need to feel that “it's their company and a career — not just another job,” he says. “I give them an opportunity to have a direct impact on the company.”