The 170 companies on this list specialize in a few product lines — often roofing, siding, and windows, but also acrylic bathtub liners, kitchen cabinet refacing, and basement waterproofing. These specialty or replacement contractors also tend to be larger, on average, than full-service remodeling companies.

Comparing last year’s Remodeling 550 with this year’s list, it’s also clear that the replacement firms have generally done a better job of sustaining sales revenue in a recession. “I think that’s about focus,” says Joe Talmon, president of Cleveland company Larmco Windows, which is number 39 on the list. “If you are a company specializing in three products, it’s easier to keep your team focused.”

What also differentiates the companies on the replacement list is that they tend to spend a greater percentage of revenue on marketing — some as much as 15% to 18%. And to close the leads they generate, they are typically more willing to invest in professional sales training.

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