Josh Shonkwiler planned to take over the family construction business, but it fell on hard times, so he opted to start his own instead. At age 24, and without a job, Shonkwiler moved from Iowa to Minneapolis and began networking. He took on a role in a handyman franchise and ultimately bought out the financier’s customer list.

Under his direction, Platinum Remodeling has done $400,000 whole-house remodels, but holds tight to the handyman business. “You never know who you’re working with when you do a small job,” Shonkwiler says. “You just have to plant seeds.”

• Shonkwiler calls hiring a full-time estimator the biggest single factor in Platinum’s $1 million volume jump in 2011.

• A full-time parts runner on staff lets higher-paid crews stay productive.

• Platinum owns its own screen-printing machine to save money on quarterly staff gear updates.

• Shonkwiler and his Business Networks peers share a website, Minnesota Home Services. Each company has its own page on the site, and all the businesses — from the carpet cleaner to the florist — share the cost. “Now the smaller companies in our group have somewhere to send people, and they find the rest of us as well,” Shonkwiler says.