Highly trained employees, thorough jobsite inspections, guaranteed energy savings, and a level of professionalism not often seen in the exterior replacement industry are a few reasons why Penguin Windows has thrived in a difficult economic climate.

Resourceful, resilient marketing is another. After federal telemarketing restrictions took effect in 2003, Penguin Windows (Statewide Windows until 2007) rebuilt its marketing program from the ground up. Door-to-door canvassers wearing distinctive uniforms offer homeowners free energy audits, immediately reporting back to the office and triggering a call for a sales visit. TV ads play in heavy rotation, demonstrators are stationed in 32 Kmart stores, and “we're probably at 15 or 20 events a weekend,” from golf expos to bridal shows, says operations manager Vaughn McCourt (pictured, third from left). Mailings to past customers alone bring in $150,000 to $200,000 in business each month.

Dean Laue (pictured, third from right) started the business, and his executive team stays focused on his vision of a dynamic, growth-oriented company. All employees receive full benefits and extensive training, and no work is outsourced. Women comprise 30% of the salesforce. Standards are high and turnover is low. “We're so incentive-oriented,” McCourt says. “Managers carry around gift cards,” always looking for good workers to reward.

- Leah Thayer