Scott Hayes’ previous career as a chef and restaurant manager was ideal preparation for owning a home improvement company — “like a restaurant, you’re always trying to better your recipes, your service, knowing that some days you’ll be there for 12 or 14 hours.”

He came to the window business as an installer and moved through telemarketing and sales into management. Seven years ago he bought the business.

New York Sash operates in what its owner calls a “small and slow-moving” upstate New York market. Houses are old and TV ads inexpensive, so three years ago the company took to the airwaves with its own home improvement show, hosted by Jill Hayes. Word travels fast in small towns, and to stay in business companies must take pains to ensure customers are satisfied. Hayes says that after having “learned some expensive lessons,” New York Sash uses only company employees to install.

- Jim Cory