courtesy of Cruickshank Inc.

Stores, like homes, require maintenance. From repainting dressing rooms to repairing fire exit doors, Reliant Commercial Construction — sister company of Cruickshank Remodeling — demonstrates even in economic downturns “that diversification [can be] a smart business move,” says the owner of both, Brad Cruickshank (Big50 1990).

Atlanta–based Cruickshank branched into commercial handyman work in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2007 that a re-branding campaign established the two distinct entities. Today, 13 Reliant “field technicians” perform thousands of work orders each year for retailers in five southeastern states.

There are three business models in retail handyman work, Cruickshank explains: stores with in-house repair crews, brokers with networks of qualified contractors, and “selfperforming” contractors like Reliant. “We’re cautiously expanding,” he says, thanks to sophisticated software and carefully screened technicians with broad handyman skills.

Meanwhile, the Yale-educated architect still oversees the design-intensive world of Cruickshank Remodeling, which shares an office manager with Reliant. A strength of his company “is the way the two businesses fit together,” Cruickshank says. With residential remodeling a “roller coaster,” the service business “fills in the troughs.”