A.J. Ballantine’s plan was to become an architect. Even as a child, he loved drawing floorplans and all things architecture. But when he graduated from college and started working for a remodeler, all that changed. “I kind of fell in love with it,” says Ballantine, now the owner/designer of Cornerstone Remodeling.

That doesn’t mean he left his architectural passions behind. As a design/build remodeler with in-house designers, Ballantine has it both ways. “We collaborate with two designers and develop floorplans based on our construction knowledge,” he says. “Once we lock in with a particular client, we meet them at the showroom and help them put together a color palette and determine their style.”

That blend of architecture and design has earned Cornerstone local accolades such as Best Remodeler of Howard County. But Ballantine says the biggest reason for those awards—and his continued growth—is his team. “It comes down to people and communication,” he says. “But it’s easy to get that wrong.”

Ballantine gets it right with a combination of technology and team building. On the technology front, he relies on Chief Architect to keep his team and customers in the loop and streamline operations. On the team building side, Ballantine goes out of his way to get to know his workers beyond the job. That means doing things like go-cart racing and paint balling and simply asking about their families.

“I want the guys to know that they don’t have to worry about losing their job if they make a mistake or need time off,” he says. “I never want to be that boss who loses touch with employees.”