Bob Baker got his start 17 years ago at Williams Builder (Big50 1987). But when work slowed, the project manager took a voluntary layoff and contracted his own small jobs. When Williams asked him back, Baker decided not to take him up on the offer.

Natalie joined Bob to handle finances and marketing. They built the company to almost $1 million, but after reflecting on personal goals, they brought it back to a manageable size. Baker still works in the field, on average $70,000 jobs, like kitchens and two-story remodels requiring complicated roof lines.

Bob's associate degree is in architecture, but he uses an outside designer. About 95% of the companys leads are referrals, although the Bakers recently started advertising to those relocating to work at pharmaceutical companies and Princeton University.

"My guys are instructed to do just about anything a client needs," Bob says. "If my guy drives over the newspaper, I growl at him." That level of service has enamored many customers. Bob keeps staff loyal with quarterly incentives. To keep new blood coming in, he speaks to high schoolers sharing the pride of being a blue-collar worker. Three of his field staff are teen-age helpers.