Tennessean Sean Perry was barely out of college when he fell for Asheville. He was driving through the mountain city, on his way to visit his grandmother, when his truck broke down. “Everything fell into place,” he says. Sixteen years later, the company that began as an outlet for working with his hands is a reflection of Asheville’s earthy, crafty, socially responsible ethos.

Turn on the local public radio station, and you’ll hear programs sponsored by The Hands of Sean Perry Co. “We’re real specific about our ideal place to work, and the [National Public Radio] crowd lives there,” Perry says. Drive around those older neighborhoods, and you’re likely to see the company’s job signs. Your mail might bring a handwritten note on a card featuring Asheville trees, stamped with the HSP “hand-crafted” logo. Curious about reducing your home’s environmental impact? Attend an HSP project open house.

As a businessman, Perry has knuckled down in recent years, refining systems and staff and investing in companywide education. “Everyone is aware. It’s so healthy,” he says. “People are taking the opportunity to step up and perform better.”


  • Provides a detailed planning/estimate process to ensure that clients are well-informed about costs. 
  • Performs deconstruction where possible. Recycles metal, using some proceeds to treat staff to beer. 
  • Works with several outside consultants on business systems: accounting, marketing, legal, customer service. 
  • “Hooky days” for staff. 
  • 401(k) match. 
  • Developing checklists to avoid missing items in design/engineering, estimating, and project completion. 
  • Hosts terrific parties including a holiday party featuring trapeze artists. 
  • Networks with architects. 
  • New website in 2008.

Notable quote: “I feel it’s been healthy that so many companies have gone through tough times to the point of saying, ‘OK, we need to trim and be more efficient.’”

- Leah Thayer