Identical twins Don (left) and Ron Padgett (right) stood out for their height (6 feet 7 inches) and their basketball chops even before officially teaming up as Padgett Building & Remodeling in 1991. Learning the trade hands-on from their father, they built three houses together before college. Eight years after graduating, they combined their passions for remodeling and new construction, respectfully, and cultivated a following among local homeowners and St. Louis architects alike.

A couple of years ago, the Padgetts found a new way to stand out. They learned that a general contractor wanted to subcontract out the remodeling of 53 officers' residences at a nearby military base. Don signed a 60-page, $9 million contract “with a trembling hand,” he says, but the project has gone smoothly. As union employers, the Padgetts can add carpenters on demand, one factor in their success in turning over another 3,000-square-foot home — including gutting and replacing the kitchen and four bathrooms — every 10 weeks.

The military project extends through the year, but a solid book of business stretches on. The Padgetts are cultivating relationships with other general contractors, working with a consultant to sharpen systems, and staying attuned to their long-time client base: second- and third-time homeowners “who want it done right,” Don says.

- Leah Thayer