No. 1 in Construction

Direct Exteriors
2,723.8% Three-Year Growth
Revenue: $5.5 Million
Employees: 32
President: Mike McAlpin
Founded: 2003
Overall RANK: No. 91
Maple Grove, Minn.

Construction com­panies are drawn to restoration projects—such as repairing homes ravaged by natural disasters or theft—for the high profit margins. But Mike McAlpin, founder of Direct Exteriors, knew how tricky it could be to get insurance agencies to pay up. After a friend in the business got into financial trouble, McAlpin studied the friend's books to see why it took so long to get paid. When a massive hailstorm hit McAlpin's neighborhood in suburban Minneapolis in 2007, he was ready. 'We figured out the secret,' he says. 'Insurance companies have a price for replacing every little shingle. You have to invoice the way they want.' McAlpin bought the insurers' software, memorized their rules, and learned to speak their adjusters' language. In 2008, McAlpin hired a forensic meteor­ologist to identify the regions of the country most damaged by natural disasters, down to the street level. Since then, Direct Exteriors has cautiously funneled profits into opening offices in six additional states.