When Kyle Whalen (right) started BACK Construction in 1981, the economy was similar to today’s. “We did what we could,” he recalls. Early work focused on barns and fences for horse farms. Since then, the ownership and business model have shifted. “Rob joined us in 1994, and we went to The Remodeling Show in Indianapolis that year,” Whalen says. “That’s when we made a conscious move to do strictly remodeling.”

In 2008, BACK Construction’s high-end projects ranged from $150,000 to $1.2 million. A challenging 2009 pipeline is bolstered by smaller jobs from an exterior replacement division and a new handyman service. “We’re trying to build those up because they’re higher margin,” says co-owner Rob Hundley (left).

Along with margins, Whalen says working with suppliers has been key to raising profit. “You can work on overhead all you want, but the big number you need to lower is your cost of goods.” Recently named an exclusive dealer of Semco windows and doors, BACK Construction has preferred-contractor status with a range of suppliers. “We try to work exclusively with one or two manufacturers in each division,” Whalen says. “Instead of dealing with five companies, we become a preferred customer to a preferred vendor and create partnerships.”

- Lauren Hunter