Paul Lawson, owner and operator of Boise, Idaho-based Executive Service and Construction, has done everything he can to stay afloat after the recession and is now ready to begin expansion again. Having started in 2000, the company — known as “the one with the big red vans” — once had eight vans, 11 employees, a main shop and even an attached drive-through coffee shop.

Lawson also was a builder. The three spec homes he built and lost during the Great Recession forced him into bankruptcy. But he has refused to give up. “I have worked too hard to quit,” says Lawson. “Besides, my customer base is very loyal. I want them to be able to count on me to get the job done right.” Now his company is a one-man show with a truck Lawson built himself (pictured above).

The white, bare bones 1984 International Day Cab Semi cost $3,000. Lawson built the rest of the truck in the yard of the office he now rents. He installed new leather seats purchased on eBay, had all of the interior door panels, the console, the dashboard, etc., upholstered by a local company and then installed everything in the truck. He added an air conditioner, power window kit and lighting on both the outside and the inside. All the accessories cost about $15,000.

The 14-ft. box is an Interstate Cargo double-axle trailer ordered in red from a manufacturer in Utah. “The trailer cost $5,500 new before I cut off the axles and tongue and modified it for the truck,” Lawson says. “The steel to build the frame, boxes, steps, etc., cost $2,000 and many hours of labor. You could never buy a truck like this for the money invested.”

The Classic Design Studio of Boise helped with the company logo and design of the wrap. The fleet all had different names from Executive Rooter Service to Executive Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. “I can hardly go anywhere without someone making a positive comment about the truck,” Lawson says.

Executive now focuses on service/repair, remodeling and light commercial for the entire Treasure Valley area. Lawson just finished working on a micro-brewery, from the ground up, in an area known as The North End of Boise. “All water piping was type-L hard copper and has a commercial conditioning system installed to prevent scale build-up,” he says. “Good beer starts with good water, so a nice water filtration system also is installed.”

With a limited budget for advertising, Executive relies on word-of-mouth marketing from its customers. “I have more than 6,000 customers in my computer database and send flyers once a year to them,” Lawson says. “It took many years to grow a thriving business and the economy was much different then. I have much more peace of mind as a one-man shop again.”

Lawson anticipates adding another van soon and looks forward to a slow-and-steady expansion for Executive.