Be honest about your product

small town usa heritage timber
  • Business: Heritage Timber
  • Location: Missoula, Mont.

College dropout Gary Delp started Heritage Timber in 1994. Today, the firm -- which consists of Delp, his wife and one full-time employee -- tears down buildings and resells salvageable materials (mostly lumber).

"I get to do what I love and I have the freedom of self-employment," said Delp. "You don't have to do a lot to shine if you're reasonably honest and hardworking."

His firm has torn down 15 buildings this year -- ranging from 100 square feet to 35,000 square feet -- which is a huge increase from when they started.

"We started out with very little in the way of capital and knowledge," said Delp. "We sort of came by everything the old-fashioned way -- by trying, failing and succeeding sometimes."

Delp attributes his success, in part, to the market: Missoula promotes sustainable building, a mission that supports small businesses like Heritage Timber. And he says many with high-end homes have turned to him for antique materials.

First published August 29, 2014: 8:59 AM ET