A roofer role model should be someone the average contractor can relate to.

Finding good role models can be tough and finding roofing role models is no exception to the rule. What should a roofing contractor role model look like? A lot of trucks? Maybe a second-generation son who attended Harvard and now has turned Dad’s business to a powerhouse? I think not. A roofer role model should be someone the average contractor can relate to – an honest, hard working person who has carved out some success in the world of nails and squares. For 2001, I would like to focus on stories where success is real and as readers you can see yourself obtaining the same goals.

Just Your Average Roofer

The beginning of a networking group can be an unfamiliar and somewhat nerve-wracking experience. We limit the size to 12 contractors, and many first year groups start with six or eight. At the working dinner, the group reminds me of schoolboys in the principal’s office: each nervous and each different, yet bound by similar stories and circumstance. All are overworked and isolated. Most are underpaid and misunderstood by family, friends, employees and their community.

Taking it all in and occasionally letting his wit and charm sneak out, Bud Fogleman sat there like a fish out of water. He was a roofer, ponytail and all. He broke everyone up at dinner by commenting that he did not even know he was a redneck until Jeff Foxworthy came on TV.

Bud was born and raised in the central hills of upstate Pennsylvania in a town called Mifflintown. His area is a rural community of four counties with a population of 231,000. The average income is $25, 934 and the average house value is $58,950. Brett Ruiz, one of the other PROSULT roofers in Bud’s networking group, visited Bud and put it this way: “We went to the country club to eat. It was the first country club where I saw a sign over the urinal asking members not to spit tobacco juice into the basin.”

Bud grew up on a farm with two chicken houses for family income. He hated farming and went to school to become an auto mechanic. He found a job as an outside salesperson for NAPA auto parts, then as a mechanic and on through a series of auto-related jobs. His family also has a rural mail route. During a slow period, he was laid off and found that doing construction work was more fun. Gradually, Fogleman Roofing was born. Bud is happily married and has a wife and two children.

Bud’s Key to Success

n one year, Bud went from struggling to make a living and being in debt, to being almost debt-free, making good money and supporting his family. I asked Bud to share what helped him with this turnaround. Bud’s comments are as follows:

  • I watched my numbers. I saw where I was losing money and stopped doing it. I really had never focused on job costing. I was doing all kinds of work. My ego and positive attitude told me I could do it, when in reality, the harder I worked the more money I lost. The first rule that worked for me was to eliminate the losers and learn to say no.

  • I saved time on my sales calls by adding a used laptop, a custom estimating package and a printer in my pickup. This also raised my company’s level of professionalism and eliminated the potential for costly math errors. While this did not happen overnight, it did play a major role in turning my company from Bud the roofer to Bud the businessman.

  • I was always a hard worker and I mistakenly thought everyone worked as hard as I did. If we all just worked hard, it would be OK. I noticed that I was expecting a crew to complete a job as if it were four of me doing the work instead of four guys who were doing their job for a paycheck so they could have a life. I had good guys; I was just being too tight on the hours and had to be more realistic about the time that jobs took to complete.

  • I began to make money, but the real difference was that I realized that I needed to be a business owner and not just a roofer. Suddenly, I found I had more work to do than just be on the roof. I had a business to run. I needed to replace myself in the field with someone who understood what I wanted, expected and needed, and had a clear vision of where I wanted my company to go. To hire this person I had to pay out good money, but by knowing my costs and building a good business, I could now afford to pay for professional help. Again, I wanted my customers to have the same quality I had always delivered. I hired a top-notch roofer with leadership potential and made him the leadsman; he brought another man who was a top rate roofer. We supplemented them with two laborers that have roofer potential and a crew was born. We paid good wages and set production targets on each and every job. The poor laborers were weeded out and a solid crew was established. I climbed off the roof and learned how to market and grow a solid, not big, business.

  • Debt began to diminish. Personal stress went down. I got a haircut — a big one. If I was going to be a businessman, I needed to look like one. I wanted to be a businessman with a roofing company instead of a roofer with a business. As my attitude changed so did the attitudes of those around me. I also noticed that in sales calls, I was being responded to differently.

  • We developed and implemented a repair program, which has helped us make a lot of new friends and long-term community customers through the otherwise slow winter months. It is not over, we will continue to strive and improve. In 2001, we are marketing in a home show and are continuing to develop a market plan for a specific area. New for 2001, we are going to try to work with a three-man crew (four-man in the busy season). We are also going to further develop the repair program, looking to do commercial maintenance as well as residential repairs. This should make for a year-round workload that will support the main crew and handle all repair work. I am excited about the prospect 2001 brings. Now there is hope and success on the horizon.

As facilitator of the networking group, I am not the only one who feels Bud is a special guy. Jaye Schwartz with Avondale Roofing, a fellow participant in Bud’s networking group, sums it up this way. “Bud is humbly brilliant. He is an extremely down-to-earth guy who uses his common sense, knowledge and sense of humor to reach out and share with others. I am proud to have Bud on our team.”

Bud Fogleman is a good guy and hard worker. He and his family deserve to make a good living. He is “good people.” Most contractors are. Running a successful business is not rocket science, but hard work alone will not ensure your success. You have to get the basics right.

I pick Bud Fogleman as my PROSULT role model because he represents the kind of success a small contractor can have. He may never have 100 trucks, but he is making a good living and will leave a legacy to be proud of. A church recently burned in Bud’s hometown and the next morning he was there with his crews putting tarps on the roof. Good business, yes, but Bud did it because it was the right thing to do. You can do the right thing and be successful as a contractor.