Max Isley

Hampton Kitchens of Raleigh

Raleigh, N.C.

Big50 2000

In the past eight years, the two best people I hired came in different ways. One was a referral from another business. He'd gone out and was working independently, so I went to talk with him and we ended up hooking our horses together. The other hire showed up one day, and the timing just happened to be right.

In the past, my best field employees have come from knowing somebody in the industry and getting referrals from that direction, or knowing somebody's work prior to them coming with us and being able to work them into our operation.

Jordan Lourie

McCutcheon Construction

Berkeley, Calif.

Big50 2001

Another general contractor, a gentlemen who'd retired, referred me to a production manager who'd worked for him several years before. A mature, confident person, he turned out to be our best hire ever. When my company, Silver Hammer Construction, merged with McCutcheon Construction at the end of 2002, he came with us, as did most of our employees. He worked here until August of this year, at which time he relocated to the Pacific Northwest. He is a terrific person with a great background that included both construction and other skills. So, the way we get our best production employees is similar to how we get our best clients: word of mouth referrals.

Jim Magnotta

Magnotta Builders and Remodelers

Lansing, Mich.

Big50 2001

I met our best field employee at the local home builders association and Remodelors Council. He'd owned his own business for 12 years, and I'd known him, through the association, for five. Then his first child was born. He's a bit younger than me, and I know the strain that running your own business can put on family life. At my company, our policy is family first -- not an easy one to adhere to, but it is one we live by. Joining up with our company was a good fit for him because it gave him more time to be with his family. Associations are a great place to find employees, if you can find them at the right time, when they've had enough of the stress and headaches that come with owning your own business.

Halsey Platt

Walter H.B. Platt Builders

Groton, Mass.

Big50 2000

All the guys here are good and very capable. In the past five years, we've hired 49 people and parted company with 41. We've kept eight. It's been one out of 10 that have made it to the end. Finding our best employees has really been a weeding out process. Some potential employees talk a really good game, and then it's all a matter of whether they can actually perform at the level that they've sold themselves.

Jim Kowalski

Kowalski Construction, Phoenix

Big50 1999

We hired our current production manager eight years ago. At that time, we were looking for someone in a purchasing position. We asked a friend who used to work for one of the big boxes if he knew anyone looking for a job. Because we purchase a lot of our materials from the retail warehouse stores, we thought that someone with experience there might be a good candidate. We did receive a referral, interviewed the candidate, and hired him. Almost eight years later, I can safely say that this person is one of our most hard-working, dedicated, company-minded employees.

Mark Pennington


Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Big50 1995

As uncreative as it sounds, our top production employees have all come from want ads.

Finley Perry

F.H. Perry Builders

Hopkinton, Mass.

Big50 1998

Our best field hire was a guy who worked for another general contracting firm. He was mildly disgruntled and looking for another opportunity. I heard about him from a plumbing subcontractor who always has his ear to the ground. He knew we were looking and recommended him. It's been a romance made in heaven.