Hovnanian Enterprises 2006 rank:7

1986 rank:32

When Barry McCarron started with Hovnanian in 1984, the company was using a mere eight floor plans in New Jersey to build townhomes and two- to three-story condominiums.

That made it a fortuitous time for an engineer such as McCarron to come aboard. Starting as a project director before moving on to vice president of construction in 1986 and vice president of operations in 1991, McCarron used his engineering background to contribute to the team's expansion of product. Hovnanian added garages to townhomes and started building single-family homes on small lots and then larger lots. In 1994, McCarron oversaw the company's re-entry into active adult product, which it had built back in the mid-1980s.

That's not the only product comeback. “It's come full circle because we're getting back into condominium building,” he notes.

Embracing his roots, McCarron now is in the midst of further product diversification, even within the active adult category. His division is creating niches within a niche: more-detailed elevations, more townhome and condo models, and even hybrids of the two.