This outfit has been honored by us eight times in the past 20 years—which is all about the focus they put on customer service. Landers’s 22 employees spend much of the day talking to customers by phone and e-mail about whether a given washer, dryer, fridge, dishwasher, or window A.C. unit is worth fixing. If the repair costs more than half the replacement cost, they’ll tell you honestly to save your money. 7032 Golden Ring Road, 410-682-3232.
Leading Edge Auto Body and Mechanical Repair
It can be tricky finding an auto-body shop with virtually spotless feedback from customers. But one such outfit is Leading Edge, opened eight years ago by Jeff Siegel. Its mechanical talents lean toward Asian car brands, but they’ll do body work on just about anything (except Saabs—no one wants to work on them) and deal with all the insurers. And the word’s out far beyond the neighborhood—thanks to glowing Internet reviews and a 2009 Best-of-Baltimore win, their customers come from a 30-mile radius. 5807 Falls Road, 410-433-6433.
We were a little nervous when Cyberguys got bought by commercial computer sales and repair firm A-Plus Computers. Would they lose that personal touch and their super-fast service? Nope! Cyberguys will continue to focus on home-computer repair and even make house calls (for an extra charge). And yes, they work on both PCs and Macs. 1544 York Road, Lutherville, 410-560-0100.
From sleuthing a short-circuit or upgrading your overloaded electrical panel to installing security lights and sensors or wiring a generator switch (remember the derecho?), Vince Madden and his crews still stand out from the crowd with quick responses, fast work, and reasonable prices. 410-563-2076, maddenelectric.net.
Pet Care Pet + ER
It’s New Year’s Day. On a Sunday. And there’s a blizzard. Naturally, your pet marmot has chosen this moment to have a life-threatening emergency. Time to head to Pet + ER, a 24/7 pet hospital that handles just critical pet cases from infections and seizures to car accidents and poisoning. Industry experts have described them as “The Shock Trauma of Maryland for dogs.” (And for Fluffy the marmot, too). 1209 Cromwell Bridge Road, 410-252-8387.
Brody Brothers Pest Control
Got ants, bees, stink bugs, roaches, or spiders? What about mice, termites, fleas, and bed bugs? No matter what’s bugging you, Brody Brothers can help. They’ve been putting out contracts on pests for 29 years, and their technicians serve the entire metro area. Customers give them high marks for quick responses, professionalism, and fair pricing. And now they’ve added a new specialty: wildlife issues. So when it sounds like a family of raccoons has moved into your attic, you’ll know whom to call. 1430 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. 410-653-2121.
Whether it’s a 200-year-old painting or a pair of baby shoes that needs to be artfully framed, Rob Harwood, of the 123-year-old Purnell Galleries in Hampden, is the choice of serious collectors all over the region. Harwood, an expert on 19th-century American painting and prints, also specializes in fine-art appraisals for institutions and individuals, and restoration and conservation, as well as buying and selling regional historic art. Among his custom projects have been display cases to hold everything from ancient books and antique jewelry to falcon hoods and a 1950s letter sweater. Sis boom bah. Mill Centre, 3000 Chestnut Avenue, #343-A, 410-662-7555.
Nursery: Old School
Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses The rambling complex of greenhouses at Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses, with its thousands of plants (other nurseries buy from them), has been family-owned since 1924, and has a yesteryear feel: You still get 10 percent off for cash or check. 120 E. Burke Avenue, Towson, 410-825-4300.
Nursery: New School
Homestead Garden Center
From trees and shrubs to garden supplies, upscale patio furniture, and home décor, the offerings at Homestead Garden Center seem endless, and even include that obligatory “new-school” touch: a cafe. Two locations, including 743 W. Central Avenue, Davidsonville, 410-798-5000.
You Silly Dog
We give a paws up to Alisa Peters, founder of the 7-year-old You Silly Dog training service, who believes in using gentle persuasion and positive reinforcement rather than choke collars, shocks, spanks, or yelling to get Fido under control. Thousands of dogs have graduated magna cum laude from her group classes and private lessons, and the certified trainer is the first name recommended by doggy daycare and motel service Charm City Dogs, as well as other pet professionals. 443-625-9866, Yousillydog.com
Jason Brown Wood Floors
Whether its refinishes, repairs, putting in borders or inlays, or installing from scratch, our money is on Jason Brown of Jason Brown Wood Floors. Operating all over the Baltimore-Washington area, he’s often referred by high-end Realtors and has done jobs for the likes of Oriole Adam Jones and former Raven Ray Lewis. But, he’s quick to point out, he charges everybody the same. 7828 West Moreland Avenue, 410-668-9131.
Gabrielli Design Studio
Drive around even the better ’hoods and you’ll see some frightfully ugly additions with no aesthetic relationship to the original structure. That’s because some “design/build” contractor thought he was an architect. And it’s the reason smart folks call architect Julie Gabrielli of Gabrielli Design Studio. For 20 years, Gabrielli, who also has taught architecture at the University of Maryland, has been providing sustainable design for homes, businesses, and institutions, from green-guided master plans for renovations and additions to LEED-certified finishes. You want awards? They’re in a pile in her office— because she doesn’t have a wall big enough for them all. 2224 Crest Road, 410-530-0389.
20/20 Home Inspections
Where’s that mildew coming from in the basement? And what’s with all the termite damage? Did someone try to paint over those water stains in the living room ceiling? Those are the tough questions a good home inspector will ask (and answer), and there’s no one who strikes more fear into the hearts of sellers than Ross Germano of 20/20 Home Inspections. Serving the entire Baltimore area, Germano started his business 11 years ago after 20 years as a general contractor, so he knows where to poke his flashlight. 2020 Ridge Road, Reisterstown, 410-925-0436.
If you’re thinking about getting aluminum fencing for your property, consider that a large dog, a deer, or even a strong intruder can pull the bars apart. Next stop? Ornamental iron, and the place to call is Welding, Engineering, and Assembly Company (WEACO), which has been making and installing decorative ornamental iron and specialty steel fabricated products for more than 60 years. Customers give them high marks for beautiful craftsmanship, honesty, understanding of security weak spots, and their respect for your landscaping. We dare you to find any man or beast that can pull these pointed puppies apart. WEACO, 2144 Harford Road, 410-467-1354.
Perry Hall Lawn Equipment
We know, you can program your DVR through your smartphone but you can’t change a spark plug to save your life. Is that any excuse to throw away a $300 lawnmower just because it started sputtering? Fact is, 90 percent of them are easily fixable. Head to Perry Hall Lawn Equipment, where they can put just about any brand back into service pronto for a pittance. And if it’s truly not worth fixing, they sell new ones, too, for about the same price as Home Depot——but deliver it assembled, and all tanked up with oil and gas. 3403 E. Joppa Road, Parkville, 410-661-2884.
Even if you live halfway around the Beltway, it’s worth a trip to the state capital to check out Annapolis Lighting, a blinding, 17,000-square-foot wonderland of high-end lighting options. Customers rave not only about the selection at this 39-year-old lighting destination, but about the personal service—if they don’t have it, they’ll order it. Wear your shades. 71 Forest Plaza, Annapolis, 410-224-2565.
Josh Levin & Associates
Ask top interior designers like Patrick Sutton, Jenkins Baer, or Cashmere Interiors to name their go-to guy for upholstery, and they’ll tell you it’s Josh Levin. His father learned the trade in 1912, and now Levin’s nephew Daniel Block represents the third generation in the company, whose upholsterers and seamstresses specialize in custom work like headboards and walls, new furniture, reupholstering, and repairs. “We work with a lot of designers with all kinds of things going on in their imagination,” says Levin. 9324 Liberty Road, Randallstown, 410-922-2131.
Hands On Painters
So this guy named Jonathan Zawacki who had a B.S. in psychology from Towson University decided to start a fix-it business to pay back his mother for supporting him while he took a 4,000-mile, cross-country bicycle trip. That quickly morphed into Hands On Painters, one of the most highly regarded brush brigades in the area, with endless recommendations from customers. And true to Zawacki’s odd-job roots, they do lots of other things, too, like minor repairs, hanging fixtures, faux finishing, and tile and drywall work. 4503 Leeds Avenue, 410-242-1737.
If your sharps sound a little flat and your minor chord sounds major, then your piano needs the attention of Greg Hudak, a 25-year veteran of ivories science, who does everything from standard tuning to complete restorations. And he comes with a pedigree: He was a piano technician at the Peabody Conservatory of Music for more than 20 years and served on the faculty as instructor in piano technology. Still not convinced? How ’bout if we told you BSO maestra Marin Alsop sent him our way: He’s been concert technician for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for more than 20 years. 410-542-3385, mdpiano.com.
Plumbing & Heating
Mike’s Plumbing & Heating Service
Want a cheap plumber? Go to the Yellow Pages, close your eyes, and point—you might get lucky. But if you want a good plumber, call Mike’s. This family-owned operation is on time, courteous, professional, gives clear estimates, guarantees its work, and offers annual contracts. 7110 Golden Ring Road, 410-686-1950.
We’ve avoided this category for years because finding a reliable pool contractor can be a minefield. But Phoenix-based Lothorian Pools jumped through our every hoop with flying colors. With numerous glowing references from clients, countless industry awards, a reputation for on-time/on-budget performance, and great customer service, it’s clear brothers Matthew and Bob Thompson have put their reputation first in the past 30 years. A giant clue? They Business Bureau—and they’re not even members. 13536 Jarrettsville Pike, Phoenix, 410-667-7665.
Home Health Aides
Lisa Vogel Agency
Hooray. Finding professional, well-trained, and well-screened people to look after Granny in her home without breaking the bank is possible. Meet the Lisa Vogel Agency, which serves clients 24/7 who require either long- or short-term rehabilitation or hospice care. Started in 2008 as an Accessible Home Health Care franchise, the Maryland-certified company was taken independent last year by Vogel after she won a number of regional and national awards for excellence (cover photo). 4730 Atrium Court #107, Owings Mills, 410-363-7770.
Chesapeake Permaglaze South
That stained, scratched tub or bathroom sink is starting to be a family embarrassment, but you don’t want to rip things up to install a new one, or maybe you’re trying to preserve the vintage look of the fixtures in an older house. Time to recruit John Raccioppi, who serves all of central Maryland doing resurfacing of just about anything, including fiberglass showers and countertops. Trust us, it’ll look like new. So go ahead and invite your mother-in-law over. And try to look older than your years: There’s a 5-percent discount for seniors. 1202 Glastonbury Way, Bel Air, 410-688-4740.
Precious Rug Cleaning and Repair
Rug Cleaning Experts in the chemistry of dyes, Chip and Alecia Cunningham can clean, repair, and restore just about any valuable rug——Persian, Turkish, Navajo——and then they can tell you what it’s worth. It’s no wonder that insurance firms use them all the time. 6610 Amberton Drive, Suite 200, Elkridge, 443-561-3000.
Contractor: Old School
Owings Brothers Contracting
The 30-year-old Owings Brothers Contracting boasts a spotless record among its loyal clientele for its professionalism, versatility, good communication with customers, and competitive pricing. They’ve also won numerous industry awards for their work. 1912 Liberty Road, #3, Eldersburg, 410-781-7022.
Contractor: New School
If you want to take a more Earth-friendly approach to building, give Polly Bart a shout. She’s the brains behind award-winner Greenbuilders, Inc. She doesn’t force green solutions on her clients, but is an expert on home construction and remodeling using eco-friendly materials and strategies. 4027 Osborn Road, Reisterstown, 410-833-4814.
Park Heights Roofing
Israel Elgamil’s 12-year-old company isn’t the biggest roofing company in town, nor the oldest, nor the best-known, but that’s actually a good thing. Elgamil’s crews (all full-timers, no day laborers) specialize in slate- and shingle-roof installation and repair. (Sorry, no flat roofs.) The company has avoided over-extending itself, so it’s totally possible to have a new roof in 10 days (try that with the big boys). 6999 Reisterstown Road, Suite 1, 410-484-ROOF.
Eugene’s Shoe Repair
The place looks a little Third World from the street, but for 17 years, Eugene’s Shoe Repair has been building a loyal following among folks from all walks of life, who tell us Ukrainian native Eugene Gomberg can make nearly new anything from scuffed up wingtips or Jimmy Choos to all manner of Birkenstock footwear (which has won him a fan club of Hopkins and Loyola students). He can fix weird stuff, too: leather jackets, that favorite pair of gloves, you name it. And he gets high marks for low prices—have you seen what new shoes cost these days? 516 W. Cold Spring Lane, 410-243-8874.
Jack Christopher Custom Clothing
Owner Chris A’Hern learned his trade two decades ago from Italian tailors just off the boat who were working with him at Baltimore’s venerable Haas Tailoring. Co. And now he’s stitcher to the stars, making house and office calls for money managers, sports figures, doctors, and other bigwigs (mostly guys, but not all) in need of some tape-measure talent. He’s got that, he believes, not only because of his experience, but because of his Towson University art degree—he knows each client’s taste, knows what looks good on their frame, and needs only hold up a swatch to see if it really suits them (pun intended). 3701 Malden Avenue, 410-367-9662, jackchristopherclothing.com
Friendly Neighborhood Window Cleaning
Sean Carr started Friendly Neighborhood after eight years as an English teacher in Baltimore County schools. (He’s a Ralph Waldo Emerson fan, and there’s not one typo on his website, natch.) His squeegee skills are enlisted for some pretty high-end properties (check out his site to see what we mean) and he’s a favorite with Realtors and homeowners alike. And we’re sure this will put your mind at ease: He’s a member of MWCoA (Master Window Cleaners of America) and IWCA (International Window Cleaners of America) and probably eats at IHOP, too. (Just a guess.) 1210 Corbett Road, Monkton, 410-733-5511.