Bill Simone (Big50 2001) says that he now spends three to five hours a week working at his remodeling company, Custom Design & Construction, in Los Angeles. But he's still very much a part of the home improvement industry; he haunts trade shows as chairman of HomePlus Finance, a sub-prime lender that caters to the remodeling industry. The financing company had been operating locally, but Simone spent about a year researching the market and discovered that nationally, sub-prime lending was “a very under-served area of the market. So we decided that we had an opportunity, and we moved on it.”

Today, HomePlus finances about $2 million in business per month, and is on target to reach its goal of $4 million monthly in early 2009. Simone says the big challenge right now is getting the industry familiar with who the company is and what it does. “We don't want to compete on the level with GE and KeyBank,” he says. “We look at the paper those prime lenders have already rejected, and try to help the dealers with their turndowns.”

Simone says he enjoys his new line of work, calling it a “natural transition.” Still, don't expect him to ever leave Custom Design & Construction. “I have 20 years of my life invested in that company. I love it.”