In general, contractors do not brag. This is an admirable quality. After all, generally speaking, you do your work and mind your own business. In my estimation, there is nothing wrong with that scenario. It is actually refreshing and should be applauded.

Some overpaid professional athletes should do the same. Then again, the more obnoxious you are in the sports arena these days, the more notice you get - and many times that equates into more pay. Not sure how becoming boisterous warranted earning attention or a pay increase. In my book, being boisterous is a huge turnoff.

That may be why it can be difficult assembling The NEWS' annual top residential dealers in both new construction as well as replacement/add-on. Some of you, apparently, believe this is bragging - which may be why you do not or refuse to enter our All-Stars list. The companies are ranked according to their total sales volume, but there are other qualification requirements, including:

  • The percentage of work in the residential arena has to be significant. To be more specific, 50 percent or more of a company's total income for the year has to be in residential sales to qualify and be classified as a residential contractor.

  • The company has to have a reputation for professionalism, quality workmanship, and accountability.

  • Companies have to be willing to have the company's sales figures printed.

    Apparently, that last item is what keeps many of you from wanting to be a part of this elite class. At least some, if not many, of you believe this is bragging. Or, for some, it means revealing too much to the competition.

    This line of thinking and reasoning is understandable. However, I'm here to say it is OK to be among the best in the industry. If you strive to be the best, you should be included with the best. Period.


    The top residential All-Star in new construction last year was the Beutler Corp. of Sacramento, Calif. Beutler recorded nearly $170 million in residential new construction in 2004, surpassing its $117 million-plus figure of 2003. Whether owner Rick Wylie's team will top the list for 2006 remains to be seen, but here's betting it should be in the running. Beutler has tailored its products, services, and marketing specifically to the residential new construction segment.

    "We work hard to continually understand what our builder customers need," said Wylie last year. "And we work hard to reinvent those products and services as often as needed to keep meeting their needs. Our patented HVAC and sheet metal products are a testament to this strategy."

    In truth, Wylie just relayed his business philosophy - nothing more, nothing less. You can do the same.

    Meanwhile, the top residential All-Star in replacement/add-on for 2005 was American Home Maintenance, headquartered in Phoenix. It recorded nearly $20 million in replacement/add-on business. Vice president Ron Schuman pointed to various reasons why the company increased its overall income by $5 million from 2003 to 2004.

    "For Arizona contractors, 2004 was a year in which our weather conditions were not as extreme as we've been accustomed to," he said. "Fortunately, we were still able to foster growth on gross margins, closing percentages, and high-efficiency sales."

    That's not bragging in my book, either. It's plain ol' honesty. Whether American Home Maintenance will be the kingpin in residential replacement/add-on for 2006 remains to be seen, but here's betting it will surface among the top 5. The company developed a new approach to sales - and it paid big rewards last year.

    "One of the most important tips I can pass on is something we've all heard before: never prejudge the customer," said Schuman last year. "We offer everyone the opportunity to buy the most comfortable and cost-effective system for their needs, whether the client appears wealthy or not."


    The NEWS' 2006 residential All-Stars will be revealed in our Sept. 11 issue. We certainly encourage those who believe they should be considered to please fill out the appropriate online questionnaire - for either residential new construction or residential replacement/add-on - on our Website, You can find both questionnaires under the heading "surveys." The deadline for the submission is Aug. 6.

    Feel free to fill out both forms, especially if you believe you are strong in both areas.

    Don't consider it boasting. Consider it telling the truth.

    Mark Skaer, Senior Editor, 618-239-0288,

    Publication date: 07/17/2006