About a year after receiving their 2000 Big50 award, says Colin Bester, former owner of United Home Services in Chantilly, Va., “business was booming. We were doing $2 million a year and had won several awards.” But life threw Colin and co-owner Heather Bittner Bester a curve. Their 2-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. They took a radical step. “We decided to sell the business.”

They got preapproved by the Small Business Administration so that a buyer could put down 10% or 20 % and the SBA would guarantee a loan. “The first person to look at the business bought it,” Colin says.


They moved to West Hampton Beach, a Long Island resort area, where Heather's mother is a real estate agent. They bought property to build and sell a spec house. That house sold for $635,000. The new business, United Building Fund, has grown exponentially.

While Heather is involved in UBF's macro decisions, she now takes pre-nursing classes and leaves daily decisions to Colin. “I'm so much happier not managing so many people, so many different jobs,” Colin says. “It's nice to have one employee and let my imagination roam to build something good that I think will sell.”