Every year, REMODELING's Big50 awards spotlight exemplary remodeling companies across the nation. Big50 winners are companies whose success other remodelers can learn from, and the award earns winners recognition and respect throughout the industry.

But that respect on its own cannot generate profits. Respect is an asset that you must use to your advantage or you waste it entirely.

With our first ever Big50 Marketing Contest, we wanted to learn how Big50 companies leverage the award to make gains in their markets.

The contest presents a sample of the efforts past winners are making toward that end. The REMODELING editorial staff judged each entry on its overall merit and selected six winners, who, using a variety of media, found creative and diverse solutions to the same essential challenge: How do you leverage an award?

J & J Custom Kitchen and Baths runs radio ads to help promote other publicity events, including newspaper coverage and sponsored contests. The company also trumpets its 2002 Big50 award on its Web site with a crawler and a Big50 logo that links to Remodeling Online. "[The Big50 award] connects you to professionalism," says co-owner John White. "If you're receiving this type of award, the customer knows you're not a fly-by-night."

Eichhorst & Co. Remodeling and Design, Spring Grove, Ill., was a Big50 winner in 2001. The company promotes its Big50 award on all of its marketing materials. Owner Gary Eichhorst says the award is a mark of credibility customers should see as often as possible. "It's an unbiased, third-party confirmation the company is doing something right."

Teakwood Builders, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., became a Big50 remodeler in 2002. The company displays the Big50 logo on its business card, and a Big50 logo links Teakwood's Web site to the company's page in the Remodeling Online archive. Teakwood's Big50 win alerted local business media to the company's success, says James Sasko, the company's president, and that attention "increased our visibility to prospective clients."

Walter HB Platt of Groton, Mass., was a Big50 winner in 2000. The company promotes its Big50 award on hats and T-shirts, as well as in a mass mailing looking for new employees. Office manager Patty Naughton says, "We used the award to entice people who would be proud of what they do. We think it's helped us put together a really great team of employees."

Colorful, professionally designed business cards and stationery promote Boardwalk Builders' 2000 Big50 award, as does the company's jobsite trailer. Owner Patty McDaniel says the Big50 award distinguishes her as a nationally recognized professional in her small Rehobeth, Del., market. "It sets the tone for professionalism. Most of the remodelers in my market aren't even members of an association."

Medina Construction promotes its 1994 award in an office display and in its proposal letters. Company brochures and business cards feature the Big50 logo. Bill Medina, president, says using the Big50 logo helps brand the award. "Establishing a consistent message is important," Medina says. Honorable mention

Now a salesman for Case Handyman Services, Steve Klitsch won a Big50 award in 1997 as the principal of Carlysle Construction.

Klitsch asked REMODELING's art department for the official Big50 logo in a variety of sizes and placed the logo on every piece of the company's printed material, even its contracts. "My intention was that anything that would come in contact with my clients, I wanted them to see that Big50 recognition," Klitsch says.

Explaining the award made his customers aware of the depth of professionalism in the remodeling industry, Klitsch says. "It showed them that I'm part of a larger collective of professionals."