A customer wants something you don't offer. What do you do? Thomas Moser, owner of Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers Inc., a $5.5-million furniture manufacturer in Portland, Maine, hates sending people away empty-handed. So he refers them to someone he thinks can handle the job -- often a former employee.

Over the years Moser has seen a number of his woodworkers go into business for themselves, producing specialized items that his shop doesn't make. Helping them out helps his business as well. "Our feeling," Moser says, "is that it makes us more valuable. When customers feel cared for, they come back."