Successful contractors seldom follow identical paths. Some find a niche market and fill it better than their competitors. Some spend research money--a lot of it--to develop new building methods that solve old problems. Others take risky jobs that their competitors aren't willing to bid on. And still others follow the time-proven formula of doing their work more efficiently than their competitors can.

This article examines the activities of five contractors, each of whom followed a different path to success. But they have at least one trait in common--a willingness to share their knowledge and vision with others.