Company Name: McDowall Company
Owners: John W. McDowall
Location: Waite Park, Minn.
Open since: 1895
What you do: Low slope BUR and Single Ply. As well as steep slope Standing Seam and Architectural Sheet Metal Panels. 100% Commercial, 60% Reroofing and 40% New Construction
Social Media: Facebook
John McDowall, president and CEO, spoke with Roofing Contractor about the rich history in place at the company.
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?
John McDowall: We are committed to providing our customers quality solutions and service for their roofing needs. We have been in the roofing business for a VERY long time and our customers know we strive for excellence on the projects we work on for them. Our Roofing Maintenance Division helps in showing the customers the value we can provide and they start to trust McDowall Company to help with their roofing needs. When their roof reaches its service life we can work with them to identify a new roofing system that meets their needs. We are a full service contractor so we can take care of them 100 percent from start to finish.
RC: What are the challenges in your market and how have you overcome them?
JM: Finding field employees that want to choose roofing as a career. I believe this is a challenge many in the roofing and sheet metal industry are experiencing. We strive to provide a healthy and safe working environment with long term employees. We also provide our team with a clean working environment and stay abreast of the latest equipment and technology to complete our projects. I also believe as a roofing, mechanical, and HVAC service contractor the biggest challenges are weather, finding good employees, unforeseen project delays, material price changes and on time deliveries.
RC: What are the advantages/disadvantages to being a company with such a long tradition?
JM: The advantages of McDowall Company’s long history and tradition are being able to look back on past failures and successes and learn from them vs. having to go through some of these things for the first time. There is also a lot of pride that comes with being a multi-generational company and that we are continuing a tradition that dates back so far. One disadvantage is when the younger generation wants to try something they think is new or cutting edge and we are met with a past experience from years ago where this approach was tried and it failed or was not productive.
RC: What does having a 100-year history mean to you and your employees?
JM: My great grandfather George A. McDowall started the company in 1895 in Joliet, Ill. I am a 4th generation family business owner and my son Mathew has joined the team which represents five generations of McDowall’s in the Roofing Business. McDowall Company’s 100-year plus history is a tremendous sense of pride for everyone at McDowall Company. There are not only multiple generations of McDowall’s that have worked in the business, but also employee’s families who are in their second or third generation of working for the company. We would not be here today without our team.
RC: What advice do have to current or future roofing contractors that can only dream of being in business for a century?
JM: Be sure to train your new and existing employees with the latest in safety and roofing standards. Read your contacts and subcontracts thoroughly for what you are liable for. Be honest with your customers and if throughout a project a problem arises address this issue promptly no matter who is at fault. Develop strong relationships with the building owners. Focus on earning their trust that you will provide a product that was properly installed and that you will be there for them in the years to come.