For the first time, ENR Southeast is recognizing a "Specialty Contractor of the Year" - Baker Roofing Co. of Raleigh, N.C.

Baker Roofing caught the attention of ENR editors for a number of reasons. First of all, the company reported a significant increase in regional revenue over the course of the past year. In the upcoming Top Specialty Contractors ranking, publishing in September, Baker Roofing reports $117.1 million in 2010 revenue from the states of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. That's an approximately 29% jump from the year before, when the company reported approximately $90.2 million in regional revenue.

Moreover, the contractor has undertaken some new business ventures that seem to be paying off. The company recently established a new division, Baker Renewable Energy, that is finding some measure of success installing solar roofs, green roofs, wind turbines and solar-powered hot water systems for industrial applications. Despite its fits and starts, renewable energy is bound to be a growing business for the future. It should be interesting to hear how Baker is tackling this challenge in its effort to adapt and succeed in a changing economy.

The renewable sector has been boosted in the last couple of years by government and military work, say company officials. As that market begins to decline, however, the company is starting to see increased interest from private-sector clients, including those building industrial facilities in the Southeast.

The company is leveraging its renewable initiative to attract future workers, too. Baker has started a pilot program where it hires students from North Carolina State University, Clemson University and Pennsylvania State University to work summers on Baker Renewable projects. Those projects include, among others, Boeing's new Dreamliner Final Assembly Plant in North Charleston, S.C., where the contractor is installing a massive thin-film solar system. This summer, Baker officials report the company employed approximately 18 college students through the program.

ENR Southeast will provide much more information about Baker Roofing in a feature story profiling the company in the upcoming September issue. For now, we offer our congratulations -- and, of course, ask for your comments!