By recognizing his limits and playing to his strengths, Bruce Snyder (front, center) has taken his business to heights unimaginable in the last recession, when he and a friend launched it after losing their carpentry jobs. “We started off framing houses for new construction, but didn't want to keep doing that,” Snyder says. By connecting with some local designers and hiring carpenters “who were better than me,” he was able to focus on business development and reach his goal of working directly for homeowners.

Today Penn Contractors is known for award-winning projects, in particular design-intensive bathrooms. Snyder has run the company solo since 2004, but he attributes much of its success to outside designers, long-time trade contractors, and especially staff. This includes “the world's best lead carpenter,” whom he's known since sixth grade and employed since 1991.

Asked why his staff is so loyal, Snyder answers, “Because I value them.” For instance, he is open book with finances, pays performance bonuses twice yearly, and does strategic planning as a group every other month.

- Leah Thayer