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Ed Ladouceur, owner of StormTite Home Improvement, a roofing, siding, and window company in Warwick, R.I., wasn't hiring for several years. The company employed 30 people before the recession and has 24 on the payroll today. "We've gone through a difficult two or three years, like everyone else," Ladouceur says. The company made it through the recession because its owner secured some large condominium renovation projects.

But this year, even as Rhode Island's unemployment rate is 12.5%, Ladouceur hired four people, including carpenters and laborers. Other home improvement company owners report that they're either in hiring mode or are about to be:

  • Bert Lebhar, president of Atlantic Remodeling, in Baltimore, says that his company has recently hired sales, marketing, and administrative personnel. Lebhar says he is finding "experienced and well-qualified" candidates. "We will be looking in 2011 to hire more sales and marketing people, as well as help in the field." Atlantic Remodeling may be hiring into some newly created positions next year, including a COO, Lebhar says.
  • Tom Higgins, owner of Superior Products Home Improvements, in Littleton, Colo., says that he hired a salesperson this summer and is "entertaining hiring a part-time operations support person because of the success of the new salesperson." Higgins anticipates a sales increase of 15% for 2010 and plans for a 15% to 20% increase in 2011, meaning that part-timer will need to go full-time. Higgins describes candidates he's seen as "excellent."
  • Ken Moeslein, CEO of Legacy Remodeling, in Pittsburgh, says his company is fully stocked with its 10-person salesforce but is "continually hiring in marketing" to refill the ranks of its canvass crews.
  • Ross Marzarella, vice president of operations at All County Exteriors, in Lakewood, N.J., says that this year the company has hired in sales, construction administration, and construction supervision, and is looking to fill openings in sales. "It's a good time to be hiring," Marzarella says. "The number of applicants has increased and the quality is above average."
  • Charles Gindele, owner of Dial One Window Replacement Specialists, in Laguna Hills, Calif., says that his company is looking for both salespeople and installers. That reflects an uptick in lead flow and business that Gindele says is in part due to pent-up demand. He has hired two new salespeople this year, neither with home improvement industry experience, and is looking for installers. Recent experience leads him to conclude that the downturn is truly over and prospects aren't afraid to spend. "They weren't lacking the money," he says. "They were lacking the confidence."