Resolved for 2010: Principles before profits

Julie Savitt, 44

AMS Earth Movers Inc., Lake Bluff Construction hauling company, 2010 sales: $1.3 million

When Julie Savitt vowed to jettison customers that were at odds with her values (and her desire to be paid on time), she knew she'd probably take a temporary sales hit. She did, with revenue down from $1.5 million in 2009. But along with shedding 25% of her old customers, Ms. Savitt also expanded existing relationships, added new accounts and hired two employees to share the office workload once handled only by herself and one staffer. Now she predicts a 700% sales increase in 2011. "I learned that it's not better to have more work," she says. "It's better to have better work." Today, "instead of having 10 little guys and chasing after every $5,000Julie Savitt or $10,000, I've got bigger contracts closer to $150,000 to $250,000. And the seeds are planted for more customers of the same caliber." The second part of her resolution, bumping up her green cred, came easily. AMS switched its four trucks to biodiesel, made office energy-efficiency improvements and gained certification by the Plainfield-based Green Business League. Moreover, when hauling construction debris, AMS no longer dumps and goes. It now looks to reuse or recycle as much as possible.

"We're always trying to find projects that need these products," Ms. Savitt says, explaining how she has built alliances with builders, landscapers and others that not only keep reusable materials out of landfills but also save AMS in mileage, fuel and dumping fees. "Before, we were just a trucking company that took a load from one place to another," Ms. Savitt says. "Now we're customer-focused, green and looking ahead."

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