"I don't have time to read all the trade magazines and keep up with technology," says Clay Page, CEO of Co-op Building Consultants, in Corpus Christi, Tex. But he doesn't let them pile up. Instead, at his residential construction company, he assigns masons to read up on the latest bricklaying techniques, carpenters to study stories about the newest saws, and framers to evaluate articles on aluminum versus wooden two-by-fours.

The reading helps employees keep in touch with what's going on beyond the job site. "These employees are helping to manage the company," says Page, who reads only what employees clip from the magazines. In 1989 Co-op's 54 employees improved productivity 220% and reached $2.7 million in sales.