When builders Devon Hartman and Bill Baldwin founded their company in 1978, the young duo had one overriding goal: to do jobs that were, according to Hartman, at the “absolute top end.”

And although the pair didn't start out with that kind of project or with that elevated level of clientele, they are certainly there now. HartmanBaldwin Design/Build takes on about 35 projects a year and had a volume of $6.4 million in 2004. Revenue this year will top $10 million. The company has received some 30 local and national awards for design excellence plus a Big50 award from REMODELING magazine in 1993.

“That was a 27-year evolution,” says Hartman, who is obviously pleased with the company's progress over nearly three decades. “It feels better than ever right now. A lot of the problems have been weeded out.”

The 50-employee company operates out of a strikingly good-looking Craftsman building in Claremont, an upscale Southern California community at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains with more than its share of private colleges, including Harvey Mudd, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, and Pitzer.

Perhaps as a result of its proximity to the Claremont Colleges, HartmanBaldwin tends to attract intelligent, highly educated, thoughtful clients. And those clients are loyal: 95% of the firm's remodeling jobs come via referrals, and 10% to 15% of those jobs are from repeat customers.

This vintage Tudor manor, owned by David Kipp, underwent two major remodels by HartmanBaldwin.
HartmanBaldwin This vintage Tudor manor, owned by David Kipp, underwent two major remodels by HartmanBaldwin.

Ned and Tamara Freed are a case in point. After hearing from friends that HartmanBaldwin was the best remodeling company around, they hired the firm for a dramatic yet sensitive $410,000 remodel of their 1953 modernist Claremont home. After it was done, the couple immediately started thinking about phase two. When asked if he ever considered using a different company for the second phase, which turned out to be a $714,000 job, Ned Freed says: “Not even for a minute.”

Another client, David Kipp, was so impressed with the HartmanBaldwin supervisor who coordinated a near-perfect, $1.2 million remodel of his vintage Tudor home that he claimed the supervisor “has all the qualities I want my daughter to find in a husband.” Kipp and his wife, Carolyn, also hired the company for another phase.