It's a rare lumberyard that posts pictures of drums and cigar humidors on its Web site, but Compton Lumber does. That's because customers created the products from exotic hardwoods that the lumberyard stocks. Compton also is popular with commercial, high-end retail, and custom home and condo builders; one contractor made the yard its source for executive office doors at Starbucks' world headquarters.

Fourth-generation president John Compton's goal is to "grow the company slowly and steadily" from less than $10 million in revenue today. It's expanding the hardwoods department, buying adjacent property, and looking at expanded door and millwork operations. Not on the agenda: taking on debt (Compton has zero) or laying off people (that hasn't happened in five years). Compton notes the company is "past the mom-and-pop" management stage. Here's how he keeps tabs:

A daily update. "My daily report gives me sales by charge and cash, cost of sales, gross profit, comparatives for that day vs. a year ago, the inventory balance, open purchase orders, and payables and receivables. I put this into my personal spreadsheets, and I keep a month-to-month track of all of this."

Look for peaks and valleys. "If gross profit is sinking, you want to try to head it off."

Check out buying activity. "I know where our purchasing balance should be. If I see a high open PO balance, I suspect we're overbuying or there's a data input mistake."

Get an eyeful. "I walk the warehouse daily."