By Hayden Alfano. Most of the advice Joe Zanola (Big50 1988) got from consultants during his days as a remodeler was information he already knew. "Then, they left me alone to try to implement those changes myself," Zanola says. Now that he's on the consulting side, as owner of Zanola Company in St. Louis, he does his best to do more than what is traditionally thought of as "consulting."

Zanola Company has a unique relationship with each of its nine consulting clients -- all from the home improvement industry. They might do marketing for one company, manage sales for another, and help in the hiring process for a third. "Basically, we help develop a plan, and then we also help implement it," Zanola says. "If you and I sit down and decide that you need salespeople, I'll help you get those people."

Zanola got out of the remodeling business in 1989 and opened a Marvin Windows and Doors store. While there, he found that people kept coming to him for advice. Deciding that he liked assisting other businesses, he sold the store three years ago and started Zanola Company. Now he enjoys that helpful feeling more than ever. "I become passionate and attached to my clients' businesses," he says.