I grew up on the jobsite," says third-generation builder Kristin Beall of Mount Dora, Fla. "But after eight years running the company, newer subs still think I'm the homeowner. This is a man's world and guys are still surprised when I tell them how to set trusses."

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Kristin Beall

Credit: Photo: Tim Tew

Beall's grandfather, Charlie Johnson, started the family business near Orlando, Fla., in 1957. He was an old-school carpenter who built his houses himself–from batter boards to shingle caps. "It was always his goal to build a house he'd be proud to live in," Beall says, and that stuck with her while she's helped her parents manage and grow Charlie Johnson Builders to the 23rd-largest volume builder in central Florida, an achievement they reach building only custom homes.

But Beall is restless, and managing projects for clients only satisfies part of her love of building, so in her spare time she created and now produces and hosts a local television show called Home Talk TV, which chronicles construction of a custom home. "I'm no DIY-er," she says, explaining the focus of her program. "I'm a contractor, and it takes nine months to build the Home Talk TV house–the right way. This is an educational, information program, behind the scenes of a real house project."

When asked to reflect on her company's history, it's clear that family ties run deep: "My dad–who put me to work framing, trimming, and setting trusses before I got my license–and I work closely and so does my mom."

And when she thinks about her grandfather for whom the company is still named, she says, "He'd be proud."

–Mark Clement