At the peak of the economy, I used to have 184 guys and 124 trucks on the road. Now I run 30 trucks and have 32 guys working for me, and life is good. I don’t intend to ever grow the company big again. We’re just going to maintain it at this level. I’m selling every job, I’m designing every job, I’m supervising every job, and we’ve gone to that old adage: Keep it small and keep it all. We’re profitable, I have fun, and my stress levels are virtually non-existent anymore.

Now I have a wonderful relationship with each and every one of my customers. Before, when we were blowing and going, it was like the only time I met a customer was when they were on fire.

I’ve been trying something a little different for my customers. On every job, I figure out something that’s not very expensive, that the customer had declined because of price, and I add it as a surprise. It could be deck canons or a fountain feature or colored lighting — something that costs $600 to $800, which is not a whole lot, but still significant.

When we start the pool up, they see it and say, “Wow! I didn’t know I was getting that. Thank you! I really didn’t have the money to pay for it.” I’ll tell them, “The job went better than I thought, and I figured you really like this, so here it is.” Everybody likes a little surprise.