Company Name: Baker Roofing Co.
Owners: W. Prentiss Baker III and Frank Baker
Location: 17, headquartered in Raleigh, N.C.
Open since: 1915
What you do: 90% Commercial, 10% Residential
Roofing Contractor spoke with Todd Kavanaugh, Baker’s director of Marketing, about the company’s 100+ year history.
RC: What are the top reasons (3 to 5) why the company is still successful? And how do they help explain the company’s longevity?
Baker Roofing: One of the things that has contributed is the work force. We are who we are because of our workforce. The longevity of our employees, we don’t have a lot of turnover. We’ve had people who’ve worked here for decades and decades, not just one or two people, but a large amount. We’re putting down similar roofing systems that our competition can, we’re all buying the same materials, but our experience in installing those systems contributes to our success. We are a flexible organization. In the last 7 years we launched a renewable energy division called baker renewable energy. We’ve also launched a coating division- baker coatings. We’ve strategically grown our residential division, whereas 10 years ago it was a very small portion of what we did. Now it’s up to 10-15 percent of the overall business. It’s becoming a more and more important part of our business. Our diversification of our business has provided us with opportunities to take advantage of changing markets. Our focus on training and development of our employees, we’ve found it’s more fiscally helpful to develop internal workforce, rather than cycling out. Effectively investing in our employees and investing in our employee’s growth directly returns loyalty and engagement from those employees. It allows them to recognize that the company is concerned with their professional growth and providing them a career path.
RC: What are the challenges in your market and how have you overcome them?
Baker Roofing: We really consider our competition the other 2 or 3 largest contractors in the nation. We have a centralized operations team and that allows us to have a uniform customer experience from Memphis to Orlando. The experience is the same across the board. Because of our size, it allows us to tackle any scenario we need to. We have the ability to say yes to a lot of jobs that other contractors couldn’t approach. We are very experienced, lends us the knowledge to be able to take on larger projects in the nation.
RC: What are the advantages/disadvantages to being a company with such a long tradition?
Baker Roofing: It’s a pretty strong advantage. There is a lot of negative consumer perception about construction in general, and having a 100+ history helps to build confidence in our consumers. Confidence that we’ve done the right thing in the past to remain in business, as well as the confidence that we will continue to be there in the future. A lot of people worry will you be here in the future will you stand behind your warranty and the answer is yes.
RC: What does having a 100-year history mean to you and your employees?
Baker Roofing: This recognition is for our people. They are a very deserving bunch, outstanding character and expertise. The recognition that we are one of the top roofing contractors in the nation, it isn’t lost on us. It validates all of our hard work. Each and every day we all leave our homes and our families and spend hours here working really hard. Some of our guys out on the roofs when it’s snowing or raining or hot, they are working very hard. We are working hard to keep the successful status, and this affirms those sacrifices that we have to do in order to work and provide for our families.
RC: What advice do have to current or future roofing contractors that can only dream of being in business for a century?
Baker Roofing: Start small and be relevant. You have years and years of experience in the industry and it’s easy to do a complete download on someone when they really just want the information that helps them do their job better. Talk about the attributes of the system that are meaningful to the experienced performance of the roof. Fastening patterns of this type of system as opposed to this system may be less meaningful to a building owner than the importance of a well-welded seam on a TPO roof. Again, think about what means something to them and start there. And if they want more, great! Maybe you will make a roofing enthusiast out of them!