Aaron Gregory was nine years old when he began operating backhoe loaders and other heavy equipment on his dad's jobsites. He wrote estimates and managed projects in his teens. At 21, he went into business for himself. Today, at 32, he oversees a company that's grown 15% to 25% every year serving government, industrial, and commercial throughout the southeast from home base in Columbus, Miss. Annual billings are $25 million.

Gregory Construction employs 100 to 120 people at any given time, but never strays from its family-values roots. “We’re small enough to take care of our customer on an intimate level, but large enough to take on complex projects,” says Gregory.

One such project was helping the Mississippi Department of Transportation improve safety on a heavily traveled road in the northern part of the state. Gregory Construction crews installed and replaced sidewalk and curb-and-gutter, built new median sections with turning lanes and signal improvements, and placed a drainage system on Highway 12 through Starkville, a retail corridor. Although they'd done similar work for the cities of Meridian and Tuscaloosa, this job "was tough because we had an intense time schedule," he says.

Crews used a slipform curb machine to get the job done on time. He bought two robotic total stations a few years ago to further improve productivity. Giving employees the chance to learn new technologies has improved recruitment and retention, which will no doubt pay off when Gregory takes his next step: expanding into certain regions of the southeast.