Bob Sturgeon (front) started his company 17 years ago with a partner, but the partnership only lasted six months. "Thank God it wasn't six years," reflects Sturgeon, who built the business up from "basically handyman-type carpentry stuff" to a full-service remodeling company doing everything from window installations to whole-house remodels.

With a family came a kind of epiphany, Sturgeon recalls, that made him look hard at what he was doing and why. "My mind got focused and I looked for ways to improve things, and it works," he notes.

Over the past few years, Sturgeon has worked to increase the size of his company's average job. A major focus has been gross margin slippage. "Whatever we've got to do, we are going to hit the numbers," he says.