Winner: McGaha Electric Co.
The McGaha family has been running their business for over 35 years now and we see why. There aren’t too many electric companies with employees who will fix a light while hanging Christmas decorations too. And of course they are qualified to work on any electric fixture for residential, retail, commercial, and business buildings, with a great deal of care and great service in their tool belts as well. (Marina Waters)

Runners Up: Amp Electric, Pat Murphy Electric, Sitara Electric

Winner: Stanley’s Greenhouse Garden Center
There’s such a wonderful combination of sweetness and hard-nosed practicality at Stanley’s. Built on the South Knoxville family farm in 1955 by Charles and Mary Kathryn Stanley, the garden center and plant farm still employs a raft of family members. It supports the community with events like this fall’s Pansyfest, with pansy purchases to benefit the Alzheimer’s Pansy Project in honor of UT Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, and also sponsors the WNFZ call-in show Garden Talk on 94.3 FM Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. The whole atmosphere is peppy, from blooming shrimp plants to a whopper cacti and succulent section, to gorgeous orchids. But the good people at Stanley’s are tough stuff, too—they do the heavy lifting for lavish plantings and will tell you how to toil in the soil. And behind those kind staff smiles lurks all the knowledge you’ll need on how to purge insect pests and weedy foes (though sometimes they’ll just encourage the “live and let live” approach). (Rose Kennedy)

Runners Up: Ellenburg Landscaping & Nursery, Grow Green Garden Shop, Mayo Garden Center

Winner: (TIE) HEP, Hood’s Handyman Service
Is there really anything more handy than a professional handyman? These two companies have dedicated service and handyman skills that every spouse wishes he or she had. Next time you find that honeydew list, maybe you should consider turning it into a handyman list. (M.W.)

Runners Up: Mr. Handyman, Roger That, Smart Home Fix

Elder’s Ace Hardware in Knoxville, TN. Photo by Tricia Bateman.Tricia Bateman
Winner: Elder’s Ace Hardware
After opening the first Elder’s Ace Hardware “out in the country” near Chattanooga in 1969, Elder Glenn managed to build a small empire of home improvement stores stretching through North Georgia and East Tennessee, largely based on the merits of family business and strong customer service. Today his sons, Tom, current president, and Grif, vice president and controller, head the 18-store network operating between Knoxville and Rome, Ga. With a humble Southern attitude, the company fesses up that it’s not always going to get things right, but it does its best to keep customers happy and take care of the folks behind the counter, some of whom have worked with the family for decades. That neighborly attitude isn’t something you’re likely to find in the big-box stores. (Clay Duda)

Runners Up: Colonial Hardware, Knox Rail Salvage, Rocky Hill Hardware

Winner: Bliss Home
I scoured most of the leading local furniture stores, as well as some low-cost leaders, before buying a couch at Bliss. It was luxurious, I had a choice of many structural options, and it cost less than the equivalent elsewhere. The staff was patient and attentive with considering options, colors, and fabrics and helped me figure out the best time to buy to maximize both their and the manufacturer’s sales, and it was delivered on time. The showroom is really pleasant, with lots of great wall art, throw pillows, and accents that could energize the look of a room without requiring a new furniture purchase. It’s all displayed in a space that feels light and spacious yet skips that terrible cavernous warehouse vibe found at many furniture stores. Plus, Bliss just has a very modern yet accessible style sense. Its product choices feel trendy without sacrificing comfort or practicality in the furniture. (Heather Duncan)

Runners Up: Architectural Antics, Bennett Gallery, The Drawing Room

Winner: Mencer’s Tree Service
I can’t say enough about the skill, efficiency, and professionalism of Mencer’s. You will find cheaper companies to remove your trees, but you get what you pay for. I watched a single man cut down an entire, huge double-trunked pine tree in my front yard in less than an hour—and he used safety equipment. (By contrast, I watched an immigrant worker for another tree service almost get crushed while helping trim a tree at my neighbors’ house. I kinda appreciate dealing with companies that value their employees enough not to cut corners on training and safety procedures.) Mencer’s was also the only company I found that claimed to be able to remove trees growing between, or precariously arching over, power lines without having to get the electricity turned off and the lines lowered first. True to their word, they removed both tricky trees, plus the pine, and cleaned up all the debris within three hours, leaving me just as much firewood and mulch as I wanted and carting away the rest. (H.D.)

Runners Up: Earthadelic, Edwards Tree Service, Ellenburg, Hedstrom Design

Winner: Scott’s Plumbing
Scott’s Plumbing is a family owned plumbing service that has been in operation for over 30 years, working on various buildings throughout Knoxville including Tennessee RV and Cornerstone Church. (M.W.)

Runners Up: Cedar Bluff Plumbing, Hiller, Johnson Plumbing, Sander’s Plumbing

Winners: (TIE) Clinch River Custom Builders, McCamy Construction
Pit top construction crews in East Tennessee against each other and what do you get? A tie in craftsmanship. On one side are the carpenter brothers behind Clinch River Custom Builders out in Lenoir City, Christopher and Simon Hodshon. They pride themselves on taking a modern angle to an age-old American tradition, with an environmentally-conscious approach to construction as well as offering extensive in-house millwork for custom features like cabinets, doors and windows, and furnishing. On the other hand, there’s Knoxville-based McCamy Construction, situated on the 100 block of Gay Street, led by Sam McCamy III. It’s a turn-key company centered on residential new builds and remodels that also specializes in commercial and restaurant build-outs. We’ll let these guys bust out the saw horses and rev up the meter saws to see who makes the final cut. (C.D.)

Runners Up: Christopolous & Kennedy, Dewhirst Properties, Fairfax Construction