Just after Sept. 11, when everyone everywhere seemed to be nervous, one of Iris Harrell's soon-to-be clients was followed by a stranger and it scared her. When Harrell Remodeling, Mountain View, Calif., was about to begin the remodel, the client wanted to know how she would be able to identify the nearly 100 tradespeople and Harrell Remodeling staff who would be coming and going from her house.

“Clients are vulnerable when you have a key to their house,” says Harrell, who admits to having been rattled herself after Sept. 11. So she and her team came up with the idea of ID badges. “They're a hit,” Harrell says of the photo identity card hanging from a distinctive purple lanyard, embroidered with the Harrell Remodeling logo.

Mug shots are taken in front of a unique Pennsylvania Dutch quilt to protect against fraud. Field staff wear the badges to the job and show them to the client, then — for safety reasons — remove them when they start working.

Subcontractors can only get into a home when a site manager is present to open up for them. Office staff, including Harrell, sport the ID badges as well, around the office and to conferences.

Harrell says, “It reminds me that I'm working. And when I take it off, that I'm not working.”