About 35 years ago, G.F. “Sunny” Zimmermann, then a psychologist, took his knowledge of people and his Army-grown discipline and engineering experience and went into his father’s custom home building and commercial construction business, which eventually evolved into a design/build firm. This year, Zimmermann received the highest customer ratings to win the 2009 Big50 Service Excellence Award. He credits much of his success to his employees. “We work as a team,” he says, “and it’s hard to say who contributed what.”

“Company bonuses equal profit-sharing,” says Zimmermann, who also requires employees — and reimburses them for — “education of any kind. It’s a motivational thing.”

He also promotes education outside his company. Recently he was recognized for his service to his county builders association, where he teaches courses on remodeling and real estate.

- Stacey Freed