Most remodeling companies would like to pretend 2008 never happened. January layoffs and salary freezes turned out to be the good news. By October, when we began the search for this year’s Big50, cancelled projects were wiping out backlog overnight. We fretted about whether we would find 50 companies who qualified for the award. As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about: The Class of 2009 did not merely survive the downturn, they found ways to thrive. Here’s a look the numbers.*

2008 was the year of doing more with less, a notion reinforced by the increase in productivity numbers versus last yearís Big50. Companies that increased revenue did so without proportional increases to staff, or with a reduced workforce. Itís difficult to know everything thatís behind these numbers,but anecdotal evidence points to increased use of subcontractors.
2008 was the year of doing more with less, a notion reinforced by the increase in productivity numbers versus last yearís Big50. Companies that increased revenue did so without proportional increases to staff, or with a reduced workforce. Itís difficult to know everything thatís behind these numbers,but anecdotal evidence points to increased use of subcontractors.
Risk Ratio (revenue ˜ salary) should be about 10 for smaller companies, and get progressively larger as revenue grows beyond $5 million. More proof of the exceptional performance of these companies is the increased average compensation (except for the group at $3Mñ$5M, which has become the new no-manís land).
Risk Ratio (revenue ˜ salary) should be about 10 for smaller companies, and get progressively larger as revenue grows beyond $5 million. More proof of the exceptional performance of these companies is the increased average compensation (except for the group at $3Mñ$5M, which has become the new no-manís land).
Not surprising for an off-year, 20 Big50 companies contracted in 2008. Eight were down less than 10% in revenue; another eight reported a 10% and 14% revenue drop; four were down more than 20%, the largest reduction being 32.3%. The surprise is that 30 companies expanded, and not just a little: 18 grew more than 20%; eight, more than 50%; and five, more than 60%, with the two highest growing 71.3% and 78.9%. Wow.
Not surprising for an off-year, 20 Big50 companies contracted in 2008. Eight were down less than 10% in revenue; another eight reported a 10% and 14% revenue drop; four were down more than 20%, the largest reduction being 32.3%. The surprise is that 30 companies expanded, and not just a little: 18 grew more than 20%; eight, more than 50%; and five, more than 60%, with the two highest growing 71.3% and 78.9%. Wow.
While some of this yearís Big50 saw margin and net profit drop below their five-year averages, most held steady or showed a modest increase. Of the 28 companies with a margin of 30% or more, nine reported margins of more than 40%; three reported, margins of 50% or more. Overall, however, both margin and net profit were down 1.4 points from the Class of 2007.
While some of this yearís Big50 saw margin and net profit drop below their five-year averages, most held steady or showed a modest increase. Of the 28 companies with a margin of 30% or more, nine reported margins of more than 40%; three reported, margins of 50% or more. Overall, however, both margin and net profit were down 1.4 points from the Class of 2007.

*Tables express averages unless otherwise noted. The number of companies contributing data to each revenue group is as follows: 12 ($500K–$2M); 13 ($2M–$3M); 10 ($3M–$5M); 12 ($5M–$10M); 3 (>$10M). Only one company had revenue of less than $1 million.