Roofing to Race, Racing to Roof: Bliss Roofing Company
Welcome to the world of NASCAR.
CertainTeed Corp., Valley Forge, Pa., recently announced that it signed a new and expanded sponsorship deal with the NASCAR Nextel Cup Haas Racing #0 Net Zero/Best Buy Chevrolet. That is a pretty big deal on its own, but we thought it even better that the Haas Racing Team driver for the #0 car is Mike Bliss, son of Art Bliss, founder of Bliss Roofing, Clackamas, Ore.
Roofing To RaceBliss Roofing Co. was founded quite by coincidence by Art Bliss in 1969. As a young man, Art began doing roofing work with friends on weekends, not as a prime occupation. One thing led to another, and before he knew it the roofing work became promising, and he decided with his wife, "We just have to go in for ourselves."
Art built a nice roofing business while raising his young family, but his real passion was racing. Mike and brother Pat were both into competitive racing before they became teenagers beginning in the local and regional circuits. The roofing business sponsored and supported the young racers.
As Mike Bliss describes it, in 1975 Dad and Mom brought home a quarter-midget car from the "Milwaukee Days" festival, which he subsequently raced at the Alpenrose Dairy in Beaverton, Ore. From the quarter-midgets he went on to sprint cars to open-wheel cars to stockcars.
Mike did work in the family business from time to time. He recalls toting buckets of hot stuff as a job he did not enjoy so much. As he grew older he worked on and drove the company trucks. But Mike's interest was strictly racing. Along the way the Bliss family became part of the racing family, known to be a close-knit group. Mike and Pat grew up racing with drivers still active on all of the circuits. They formed friendships with many in the racing game, including NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon.
The Net Zero/Best Buy Chevrolet team is owned by Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation, the largest machine tool manufacturer in the United States. Haas is an avid race fan and has driven himself in the past. He formed a number of technical partnerships with other race teams that eventually led to the formation of his own teams in CART, IRL and NASCAR. The company is currently a sponsor of the Hendrick teams and continues to partner with Hendrick for engines and technical support.
The Haas Racing Team is based near Charlotte, N.C., adjacent to the site of the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Roofing Contractor jumped at the chance to meet with Mike Bliss at this impressive 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art garage where the cars are prepared for upcoming races. The facility houses both the Net Zero/Best Buy Chevrolet and the Busch Series Team Coast Guard car driven by Justin Labonte.
The facility is by far the cleanest and best-equipped shop this boy has ever seen. The most impressive thing, however, is the great number of people working in a wide variety of disciplines that come together here to build and maintain these automobiles. The tractor-trailer units built to haul the cars are both a technical marvel and a work of art.
Mike Bliss is a friendly, unassuming man who is proud of his profession and quick to point out the fact that NASCAR racing is a team sport. He is appreciative of the opportunity to race in this league and appreciative of sponsors like CertainTeed who support his team.
Asked what is the best thing about racing, Mike fires back without hesitation, "Winning!" Mike has been racing for 30 years, and finds it difficult to describe, but he says, "any driver who has won any race" would know the feeling.
Racing to RoofIn the middle 1970s Art Bliss began installing concrete roof tile, which led him into the trucking business, transporting tile from the plant to the jobsite. In 1985 Art turned the family roofing business over to his son, Don, and went into the trucking business full time. Art has since retired from the trucking business, but Don has been busy taking the roofing business to another level. Art says, "I wouldn't have built it up like Don has ... he's 100 percent business."
Bliss Roofing has moved up to become a $6.5 million firm specializing in steep-slope roofing, a little over half in asphalt shingles, and the remainder in tile and shakes. The firm employs 65 at peak and, as Don claims, "In Portland we're largest in tile roofing."
Don is rightfully proud of the business he has built. He offers a significant benefits package for his people including a formal profit sharing program. He separates his firm from the competition by way of his philosophy of doing business. Don is a hands-on manager that knows roofing systems inside and out. Bliss Roofing takes a great deal of pride in standing behind its product and running a business that is mainly about service.
Don has built the business to the extent that he can now afford to take time off to enjoy life, even attend the occasional NASCAR race (he makes most of the races on the West Coast). As he describes it, "Live each day to the fullest."
Racing into the FutureCertainTeed's new sponsorship agreement has its logo prominently displayed on the "C" post of the #0 Net Zero/Best Buy Chevrolet. Peter Dachowski, president and CEO of CertainTeed says, "We are privileged to be entering our fifth year as a sponsor in the nation's fastest-growing sport."
So keep an eye on the number zero car. Mike and this young team are dedicated to producing winning results. They have the personnel, the resources and the desire. In a game where the competition is this intense, the only thing they lack is just a bit more polish. And we expect that to come sooner rather than later.