Paul Wesley Photography

During its first 24 years in business, New Outlooks Construction (NOC), in Robbinsville, N.J., never did much in the way of marketing, relying almost entirely on the strength of its reputation to generate leads. Even as recently as 2007, the $4 million company spent just $5,000 on marketing expenses.

But that changed when the company rolled out its handyman division this past January.

“People thought we only did larger jobs,” says owner Jon Vogel, Big50 Class of 2006. “We’re trying to push this as the design/build work begins to slow.” So NOC began distributing postcards in neighborhoods in which it was working, started a company newsletter for past clients, and had local businesses distribute fliers in exchange for one free hour of handyman service per month.

The result has been a handyman division slated to perform $500,000 worth of work in its first year at profit margins significantly higher than the company’s design/build work.

The new division will support NOC’s recent growth: The company added 11 employees in the fall of 2007 and increased its volume 20% that year alone. The south Jersey market has only just begun to slow, Vogel says, and he sees his handyman division carrying him through the downturn. “We felt like it was a perfect match for our design/build division because they naturally feed each other,” Vogel says.

Also fueling the company’s recent growth has been an incentive program instituted in 2007, which rewards all company employees when specific volume and gross profit numbers are met. The program was developed in conjunction with Dave Bryan of Blackdog Builders, in Salem, N.H.

“We’ve increased our gross profit 6% since 2006,” Vogel says. Powered by the addition of the handyman service to the company, he hopes the trend continues through 2008.