By Nina Patel. After 35 years in remodeling, Deva Rajan has handed the reins of Canyon Construction over to a 10-year employee. Five years ago, Chris Avant approached Rajan with a proposal to buy the company. Rajan was 60 then and thinking about retirement.

Rajan was named Big 50 in 1990 when the company's sales volume was $3 million. Now Canyon has 70 employees and $16 million in sales.

Rajan and Avant realized the transaction could be complicated, so the duo consulted with financial planners, an attorney who specializes in business acquisitions, and a CPA. Rajan advises remodelers considering a similar sale to take time to draft the agreement. "It needs to be tested by attorneys and CPAs, and it needs to incorporate their advice," he says.

It's been a year since Avant became the owner and president and Rajan moved into a consulting role. "Some of our projects are two to three years in duration. The transition assures we don't lose key clients," Rajan says. It also reassures employees, some of whom have worked with Rajan since the 1970s.

Rajan worried about giving up control, but he says it's worked out well. Avant has a degree in economics and worked from the ground up in construction. Since he took over, he's set up a design/build division, added a service department, and updated the company's image with a new logo and marketing materials.