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Talk of the Town Think your city is too small to build a business in? How does population 650 sound?

By Michelle Prather

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How do you build a $1.2 million business in a town with just 650residents? It's all about treating your employees right. Justask Duane Ruh, 49, whose Little Log Co., a log birdhouse and bird feedermanufacturer in Sargent, Nebraska, boasts the kind ofemployee-friendly policies you often read about, but too rarely seeput into practice.

Ruh believes it's all about having fun. His 32 employeesenjoy a flexible schedule that gives them ample time for personallives. And even when times aren't much fun, Ruh is committed tohis staff.

During a slow period last summer, he cut back on hours ratherthan lay anyone off. And when he got a buyout offer in 2000 thatwould have closed his facility but kept him on board with anenviable salary, he turned it down. There just aren't that manyjobs in this part of Nebraska that his employees could have goneto. Ruh even encourages employees to pursue side or summer jobs ifthey need to make extra money, assuring them that their Little Logjobs are safe.

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