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This year's Remodeling 550, released today, finds the nation's largest remodeling firms are bigger and healthier than ever, beneficiaries of the nation's busiest time in recent history for repair and rehab work. Sales at the nation's biggest full-service firms, replacement contractors, and insurance restoration firms on the list hit $4.22 billion in 2015.

Those same firms vary regarding how bullish they are for 2016. Replacement contractors think their sales will rise 27.2% from 2015, while full-service firms predict only a 4.9% gain, and insurance restoration companies expect a 2.5% increase in 2016. Lump them together and, in dollar terms, that works out to a 17.3% increase, to $4.94 billion.

Actual Results for 2015 and forecasts for 2016 for the 2016 Remodeling 550's full-service and replacement contractor groups

But when reading those forecasts, keep in mind that remodelers traditionally are an optimistic bunch. The top 100 full-service remodelers this year who also took part in last year’s survey had forecast in 2014 that their remodeling revenue would rise 12.4% in 2015. This year, when we asked those companies to report their actual performance in 2015, the numbers they provided indicated only an 8.8% gain.

Replacement contractors did better. The top 50 firms taking part both years had predicted a 7.8% rise in revenue in 2015 from 2014. Their actual gain was 7.3%.

The real results may trail the forecasts, but growth in the upper single digits is still worth applauding, particularly given the sales setbacks that remodelers have suffered in previous years. And anecdotal reports suggest the numbers could have been even higher if remodelers could only have found additional help to meet customer demand.

We've presented the Remodeling 550 annually since 2009, listing the industry's top full- service remodelers, replacement contractors, insurance restoration firms, and franchise operations.

Along with the data, you'll see a special designation for Remodeling 550 members who also have been selected for the Big50, our annual recognition of top-drawer dealers. And again this year, we've teamed up with GuildQuality to point out firms that won its quality award.

The bulk of the information in the Remodeling 550 comes from the companies based on their responses to an online survey. Additional information comes via email, phone calls, and public sources. Diane Kittower managed the project; Dante Webster provided additional research. Craig Webb and Curtis Sprung cleaned up and analyzed the numbers.

Questions? Comments? Contact editor-in-chief Craig Webb.

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