As a high school kid in suburban Philadelphia, Bob Griffiths worked for a local custom home builder, and he remembers riding in the truck as the older man pointed out fine houses he had built as far back as the 1940s. That image stuck with Griffiths as he worked his way up from carpenter’s apprentice to framer to superintendent, and it guided the way he’s shaped his own custom building company. He founded Griffiths Construction in 1992, he says, “with dreams of putting together an ace team of superintendents, and that’s basically where we are.” With partner Wayne Rowland, who joined the company in 1994, Griffiths has produced a portfolio that would impress even his long-ago mentor.

“We’ve done 150 projects in 20 years here,” he says: new houses in the region’s emblematic traditional styles, historic restorations, and smaller jobs that demand the utmost in craftsmanship and authenticity. And with all that under their belts, the partners are still fired up about their work. “When I was swinging a hammer, it wasn’t quite at this level,” Griffiths says. “We’ve been on this very large property, with multiple buildings, for more than seven years. We get to work with woodcarvers, metalworkers, people doing leaded glass. It’s a treat.” No less a treat is working with a Who’s Who of traditionalist architects on their home turf. “The guys we work with are so good,” Griffiths says. “The imitation stuff doesn’t do it for me.”

The company concentrates its resources at the level of project supervision, relying on trusted trade contractors to execute the work. “We have a deep bench,” Griffiths says, “at least three good subs in each trade. Supervision is the key.” And the standard is as high as it can get. “Our goal is to have the perfect house,” he says. “That’s not something that maintains itself; it’s something that doesn’t fail. You’ve [still] got to be there in 10 years when those clients have a problem.” But the long haul was what Griffiths and Rowland had in mind from the beginning. “Part of this is the experience,” Griffiths says. “You’re not in it for the money; you’re in it for the experience of doing the most outrageous things in your craft.”

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Griffiths Construction / Chester Springs, Pa. / / Years in business: 20 / Employees: 25 / 2011 volume: $24 million / 2011 starts: 5