Bob Shallenberger, 37, and John Cavanagh, 38
Highland Homes, St. Louis
Projected 2007 Sales: $22 million-plus
Description: Green residential builder
Open House: Bob Shallenberger and John Cavanagh enjoy having company over. Both live in homes built by their company, Highland Homes, and both use them as models to show potential customers what they can do. The two fraternity brothers from St. Louis University used "creative financing" and credit cards to launch their vision in 2003. "We did everything except rob banks," says Shallenberger.
It's a Green Thing: Highland Homes isn't your typical builder. Each new home comes with a plasma TV and the option of special packages like "Elvis Live," which includes a stereo, karaoke machine, CD player and iPod Nano. Those are fun extras, but the real difference comes down to Highland's environmentally friendly building methods: sustainably grown wood, rooftop decks, underground parking, lots of parklike green space and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Says Cavanagh about green building, "It's difficult and it's expensive to learn. It's challenging, and there's some risk in it. We see it as a big growth segment of the market." Their next move? "Being recognized as the top green residential builder in the country is the goal for us," he says.
Hip Homes: There's a definite spark to Shallenberger and Cavanagh when they discuss Highland Homes and the future of the business. "When we design a building, we live and breathe it," says Shallenberger. They have no shortage of projects lined up and no shortage of future homeowners looking to buy into their affordable and hip green urban developments. "We've got a bunch of cool people working for us," Shallenberger continues. "The people that we sell to are all really cool, too."
Follow Their Lead: Surround yourself with entrepreneurial-minded employees and you'll gain a creative, dedicated work force and a constant infusion of innovative ideas. --Amanda C. Kooser