In the recession of the early '90s, Arlington, Mass., remodeler Peter Feinmann (Big 50 1992) made all the right moves and set Feinmann Remodeling up for the tenfold growth it's enjoyed since he was named to the Remodeling Big 50.
"Here, it wasn't a recession. It was a depression," Fein-mann says, referring to the two-thirds drop in construction jobs in Massachusetts between 1989 and 1991. "I didn't want to go back to swinging a hammer. ... I had really worked at developing the business and wanted to stay committed to that." Feinmann also knew he needed to resist the temptation to cut his margins. "Once you get into a bid environment, the game becomes 'how low can you go.' If you cut your prices, you have to sell more work, then you stretch your capacity, then you start failing the customers, then you run the risk of losing real money."
So Feinmann refocused his business on design/build, knowing clients would pay a premium for the service. "I worked so hard at developing the design/build part of my business, that when the recession let up, the company took off, because all the systems were in place." The new recession is not a major worry for Feinmann, because he has the cash on hand to weather it.