Jim Koontz and Ali Awad began a small, efficient company and have stayed small and efficient. “This allows us to be selective about whom we work for,” Awad says. “Remodeling is a lot more fun when you work for people you like.”

That’s a fitting sentiment for these design/build business owners who first met through their wives and who walked their dogs together as they talked houses and design in their southwest Minneapolis neighborhood. Now 80% of their work is in that same neighborhood.

Awad (right) is the architect and Koontz (left) the builder. Although they started out doing all the work themselves, within a year of incorporating, the partners realized that subcontracting trades was the best way for them to be profitable. Now they are able to focus on what they’re best at: designing projects, spending time with clients, and sharing office work.

They’ve had loyal, “first-class subs” since before incorporating, Awad says. “We organize the bidding/pricing plans so that each sub’s work is clearly spelled out, and we manage the job efficiently, giving each sub advance notice of their time on the job. We make sure their project is ready so they can work efficiently, and we pay them promptly upon completion.”


  • Awad uses Google SketchUp for 3-D visualization, but still relies on pencil and paper to draw plans. 
  • The company’s cabinet shop is now its own entity. 
  • Has a system of two estimating stages with clients.
  • Home tour participation has been the company’s best marketing tool.