Not warmed by Wisconsin weather, Patrick Benkowski (Big50 1997) sold his share in Custom Design Associates to his brother Mark and headed for Arizona.
It was an amicable split, but "family businesses can be a lot like shotgun weddings," he says. "Different opinions and methods of doing things."
In Arizona, Benkowski rides one of his six motorcycles year-long and also runs, single-handedly, Roadrunner Custom Remodeling, in Fountain Hills. His goal is to remain a paper contractor, subcontracting all trades, reaching no more than $500,000 in sales. Last year, he hit $250,000 with 45 jobs.
Benkowski says his "honest face" helped him build a referral base that was non-existent when he arrived in January 2001. But the credit doesn't end there. The contractor says he "couldn't sell his way out of a paper bag," so he uses his Web site design savvy to deliver prospects "cyber-pricing" proposals. He creates pages on his Web site and, in e-mails, sends links to soon-to-be clients, so they can peruse his proposals.
Benkowski named his company after a local bird that's fast and compact. And that's how he wants to keep his business.