The Remodeling 550 is a list of the nation’s largest residential renovation companies. Gathered mostly by online survey over several months, it consists of four listings: full-service remodelers, including design/build; replacement contractors specializing in one or several products, most often roofing, siding, or windows but including other services; insurance restoration contractors who repair or restore homes damaged by fire, flood, or other mishap; and franchising companies, which sell a turnkey business system.

All these play a role in the remodeling industry, estimated by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University to have had sales of $279 billion in 2009. Those sales are down from the industry’s 2007 peak, and it’s clear from comparing sales of some of the industry’s largest companies for 2009 with those we published for 2008, that many companies saw a drop in revenue. Those that survived the plunge have done so by adapting to current economic conditions. “Everybody’s changed,” says Dan Bawden, owner of Legal Eagle Contracting, in Houston.

The biggest reason for revenue erosion is the disappearance of large-scale projects that, up until the recession, sustained many remodelers. Companies structured to do six-figure remodels often had recourse to taking on smaller projects to generate cash flow through a recession both deep and long-lasting. “There are some high-end projects, but it’s a much smaller number,” notes Gino Benvenuti, of Benvenuti and Stein, a Chicago-area full-service remodeler and one of the industry’s largest. Benvenuti expects the slowdown to last “at least a few more years.”

Tom Kelly, president of Neil Kelly Co., in Portland, Ore., also one of the largest full-service remodelers, is seeing “a few more large remodeling projects, but not on the scale of a few years ago.” However, Kelly’s home performance division will have doubled in revenue this year. He credits that to a federally funded Portland city program, which “will help drive retrofits statewide.”