One of five divisions within a $20 million, 80-person company, the Remodel Department of D.D. Ford Construction started in 2004, when founder Doug Ford recruited Ryan Prahm to formalize a system for the remodeling projects the company had long been doing as part of its natural evolution.

Ford went into business as a cabinet and furniture maker. Cabinet installs led to requests for finish carpentry, and to build new, and to service and maintain completed homes. Today the company’s remodeling projects average $220,000, with some occasionally taking on a life of their own, such as a tile job that became a $4 million renovation.

Strong relationships with architects fuel the firm’s success, as do connections to homeowners in affluent, civic-minded Santa Barbara. For instance, community service work includes donating services to homes damaged by the 2008 Tea Fire, as well as rebuilding a school playground. Profit-sharing, tuition reimbursement, and on-the-job training keep staff engaged and upbeat. And clients feel good ending projects equipped with an “owner’s manual” that specifies the details of their homes — as well as a 10-year warranty, should the smallest thing go wrong.

- Leah Thayer