By Nina Patel. Allan P. Lutes

Alpha Remodeling

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Big50 1999

The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, reinforced and clarified for me the systems approach to building a business. I also like Professional Remodeling Management, by Walt Stoeppelwerth. I read it shortly after I started my business, and it saved me from many common mistakes that could have doomed my company. A must-read for anyone starting out in this business. The Get Hooked On Your Own Ability audiocassettes by Phil Rea offer down-and-dirty sales training that I give to all my designers and sales associates. It saves me training time and sets up a proper expectation for their activities.

Anthony Wilder

Anthony Wilder Design/Build

Bethesda, Md.

Big50 1998

The first book is The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. These are (1) be impeccable with your word; (2) don't take anything personally; (3) don't make any assumptions; and (4) always do your best. It is very easy to apply both personally and in business. The second book is The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player, by John Maxwell. It has great anecdotes. Maxwell shows how these qualities, and many others, influence the team and its success.

Arthur Kriens

Kriens Construction Co.

Sioux Falls, S.D.

Big50 1999

I have several favorite books. The first is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. The habit "begin with the end in mind" reminds me that the goal of remodeling is to share with all the people involved -- they need to feel they're contributing. I also like The Pursuit of Wow! by Tom Peters. The customary expectation in remodeling is "oh, shoot!" not "wow!" When customers start a project, they have excitement and anticipation, but by the time the job is halfway done, aggravation and irritation have taken over. Last but not least is Phil Rea's How to Become a Millionaire Selling Remodeling. Its three "questions to ask" before a sales call are invaluable.