Take a look at some intriguing contractors!

Roofing Contractor’s mission is to help the contractor succeed. We feel that one way to achieve this goal is to share stories about contractors who have already attained a measure of success. Readers can then learn from their experiences and decide what elements of success to incorporate into their own companies. To this end, we offer the winners of our Third Annual Most Intriguing Roofing Contractor contest.

What makes a contractor intriguing? It’s not the bottom line that counts so much as finding creative solutions to problems. Intriguing contractors are innovative and successful (on whatever level), and they know how to take care of their employees – the key to any good business. This year, we let seven contractors tell us, in their own words, why they stand out.

Advanced Roofing Inc.

President: Rob Kornahrens

Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

2000 Commercial Roofing Revenue: 22 million

Advanced Roofing Inc. has a “Commitment to Quality.” We realize that our reputation is our most valuable asset and that we put our reputation on the line every time we are awarded a project. The greatest testimony to this commitment is our results. Our roofing professionals installed the only roof that stayed in place on the Cutler Ridge Mall during Hurricane Andrew. While other businesses were closed for 18 months, the Sears department store with an Advanced Roofing Inc. roof was open for business.

Since 1983, Advanced Roofing has been an active participant in the Total Quality Management program sponsored by the National Roofing Contractors Association and the University of Chicago.

The company has its own in-house AC division and an in-house sheet metal shop. This allows Advanced Roofing to control all the aspects of a roofing project and provides its clients with single-source responsibility.

The company also keeps in touch with its employees by having quarterly “State of the Company” addresses, where all employees are brought up to speed on new information and advanced opportunities. The meeting is then turned over to the employees for a question and answer period. Advanced Roofing loads up the tour buses once a year for a two-day fishing trip along with trips to Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat games. These activities help the employees see each other outside of regular working conditions and build our team spirit.

Company: A-1 Roofing

President: Jim Dunn

Location: Culver City, Calif.

2000 Commercial Revenue: $9,000,000

2000 Residential Revenue: $14,500,000

Employees: 400

Before there were roofing roll-ups, A-1 All American Roofing had already built a company that was seven locations strong. Founded in 1989 with one location in Torrance, Calif., Jim Dunn worked with Craig Ekberg on a licensing agreement to expand the company through franchise opportunities to seven locations. Several additional locations are currently in planning. Through the expansion, A-1 has become the largest residential roofing contractor in Southern California.

The franchise works with a board of presidents who meet monthly to coordinate, plan and execute progressive roofing and marketing techniques. Each location is responsible for its own projects, marketing and accounting; yet all work in conjunction with Jim and Craig.

With offices located from Santa Barbara to San Diego, “Dedication to Excellence” is the key to reputation, success and continued growth. The company excels in residential reroof, specialty custom homes, historical renovation, institutional facility, condominium complexes, commercial high-rise and industrial property.

Paramount Studios, Hotel Bel Air, Oceanside Marina Tower, Westwood Center, Long Beach Convention center and Pasadena War Memorial are just a few of Southern California’s more notable buildings that are protected by A-1 All America Roofing’s quality craftsmanship.

A-1’s philosophy is to match the customer’s needs with the best material manufacturers in the industry. But selecting the right roofing materials is only the first step in a successful project. Contractors must be ready for roofing challenges including rooftop loading in high-traffic areas, seismic considerations, sustainable roofing, attic ventilation systems, roof restoration systems and “Cool Roof” energy-saving coatings. And don’t forget the client’s budget, day-to-day business needs and job safety.

There are many challenges associated with roofing in Southern California, not the least of which include fire protection, high-wind uplift, earthquake structural support and energy conservation. A-1 leads the Southern California market with a strong program of research into roofing materials and systems that fit its demanding environment. They work continually to meet the environmental challenges including fire, seismic activity, wind and weathering.

A-1 has an ongoing commitment to the community, demonstrated by its involvement in numerous charitable and community organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Christmas in April, City of Hope, Little League, AYSO and various other school-affiliated charities. Employees on every level of the company are involved.

Safety for the community, customers and crews is also a concern. A-1 has implemented a full-scale OSHA safety program that includes weekly tailgate meetings, continuing education courses, and surprise safety inspections at the job site. Protecting the environment is top priority as well. A-1 offers new roofing products made of recycled materials while also promoting roof restoration systems. Both help protect and conserve valuable natural resources and keep the environment clean. Roof restoration systems extend the life of existing roofing systems and reduce the amount of asphalt debris deposited to landfills.

What speaks best for A-1 All American Roofing is the quality and prominence of its roofing projects, including homes for Steven Speilberg and Madonna; the Bel Air Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Nissan International, Chart House Restaurants and Southwest Airlines.

Gillespie Roofing

President: Alan Gillespie

Location: Walla Walla, Wash.

Total Number of Employees: 28

Roofing in rural America holds its own set of challenges. For the past 30 years, Gillespie Roofing, has excelled by offering prompt reliable service by trained professionals. In an area of high employment, Gillespie is committed to maintaining a full-time work force that does not include seasonal layoffs. The company has also expanded its market from Walla Walla throughout eastern Oregon and Washington.

Whether a residential reroof, repair, multi-complex reroof, new construction or industrial building, Gillespie believes in offering the highest level of craftsmanship. The company maintains master craftsmen who take pride in every detail of their work.

Although Gillespie Roofing is located in rural America, its standing with large manufacturers is high. The company is a Master Contractor for Firestone Roofing and it is also approved by Malarkey Roofing Co., Carlisle and Pabco Roofing Products.

Three quarters of its business is commercial, and the company is just beginning its fourth Walmart. Residentially, it specializes in a wide range of residential roofing including tile, slate, shakes, metal, architectural shingles and high-performance composition shingles.

Gillespie's slogan is "Ask Any Neighbor." With hundreds of references, a person can literally ask any neighbor in Walla Walla about the company. Comments like "We can't believe how clean Gillespie Roofing left our yard;" "If it wasn't for the beautiful new roof, we wouldn't have known they were there;" and "They worked on our roof for two days and when they weren't actually on the roof working, you would never know they were there;" speak to Gillespie’s consistent practice of cleanliness and commitment to providing the best roofing.

Alan Gillespie also takes care of the community through donations to

YWCA, town parks and main street restorations and many community organizations.

Interstate Roofing Inc.

President: Mike Satran

Location: Portland, Ore.

2000 Commercial Revenue: $4.5 million

2000 Residential Revenue: $5.5 million

Total Number of Employees: 115

Interstate Roofing’s motto is: “Any Roof, Any Time, Anywhere.” The company has been serving northwest Oregon’s roofing needs since 1988. Starting with a single office and a few roofing professionals, Mike Satran has built the company into one of the largest roofing companies in the Northwest. The company has grown, not only financially, but also in quality, safety, workmanship and employee benefits.

One innovation has been the development of “Interstate Exteriors.” Seeing a need for quality craftsmanship and service in the siding and window industries, Interstate opened its exteriors division to meet the “whole exterior house” needs of its customers. To accomplish this, Interstate looked to the local market and acquired Gold Arrow Construction and Re-siders, siding companies known for their excellence in siding and window installation. With the acquisition of these companies, both owners joined Interstate as the Siding and Window Division managers, bringing 15 years of experience in the field.

As for safety, the company has a full-time safety officer and has developed a full-scale safety program, enforcement policies for the program, routine safety inspections and drug-abuse policies. As a result, there has been a significant drop in lost-time injuries, a substantial reduction in worker’s compensation premiums, fewer accidents and a shift in motivation for safe work practices. Interstate has also developed a working relationship with Oregon OSHA and is a regular attendee at safety and insurance conferences.

Interstate offers a full range of benefits for its employees including health, dental, vision and retirement benefits, along with substance abuse counseling and mental health coverage. Car allowances are also given to employees along with company vehicles when necessary. Interstate pays even closer attention to the smaller benefits that raise employee morale including flu shots, a year-end party, annual company picnic, Cinco de Mayo party, hero of the week award and a full-scale bulletin board that hosts the pictures of all employees. The employee commitment extends to the family with a scholarship fund for employee’s children. All employee children entering college are eligible for a $500 scholarship. If the scholarship recipients choose to work at Interstate during the summer, they are then eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.

Interstate constantly works toward a diverse and rich work force. The company has looked toward the growing Hispanic community and taken the lead in providing a diverse and open company culture. Currently, the employee newsletter is bilingual and the company safety manual, benefits package and employee handbooks are in the process of being translated into Spanish. Interstate also offers bilingual classes teaching both English and Spanish. Over half of the foreman and superintendents are bilingual or in the process of becoming bilingual.

To keep up its craftsmanship, Interstate’s Mentor Program looks for small roofing companies that excel in niche roofing areas. The companies are then purchased and the owners hired as a mentor in their field of expertise.

Premier projects accomplished in the past few years include the Montgomery Park Building, Timberline Lodge and Sunset Gardens.

The company has once again been named a 2001 NRCA Gold Circle Award winner for Service to the Community. It has been very active with Christmas in April, Tigard Chamber of Commerce and several local school charities.

Value Roofing Inc.

President: Bill Marshall

Location: Haymarket, Va.

2000 Residential Revenue: $500,000

What makes us intriguing? How can a company with four employees compete against high-volume companies and indeed, excel in the face of such competition? It begins with our approach to customer education, ongoing communication with our homeowners and strong attention to detail; and it ends with a group of dedicated employees that believes in Value Roofing.

The Washington, D.C., area is an affluent and educated consumer market. While there will always be a market for low-priced services and high volume companies, there is also a strong market of homeowners that want to know the “why’s” of the roofing process as it applies to their homes. We fill this niche by taking time to evaluate both the needs of the home and the short- and long-term goals of the homeowner. We take the opportunity to educate the homeowner on the benefits of underlayment options, ventilation improvements, shingle style and shingle colors that will enhance the appearance of their property. Our customers are comfortable prior to the start of the reroofing process that their expectations will be met.

In an affluent market such as ours, quality of workmanship is touted by all and delivered by many. Often, homeowner complaints are not with the quality of workmanship, but with the lack of communication by the contractor after the contract is signed. Scheduled dates, material deliveries and crew arrival times must be provided. Items that contractors take for granted are often unexpected by customers and must be communicated in advance to ensure that the project goes smoothly. Simply making the customer aware of the possibility of small debris accumulation in attics and skylight openings, and the need to safeguard fragile wall items is easier to communicate prior to the roofing project than explaining afterward to an upset homeowner.

In fast-paced Washington, time is often one’s most valuable asset. Our customers often want to be home while the work is in progress and need to schedule with their place of employment. We excel in keeping our customers informed of their project schedule by first providing an actual calendar date, followed with a confirmation letter prior to starting and telephone communications as needed in the days preceding to adjust for weather variables. Neat and tidy roof installations along with a meticulous cleanup of the grounds can cap a pleasant roofing experience for our customers.

The above efforts would fail without the strong loyal following of dedicated workers. While we provide the usual employee perks of financial incentives, company apparel and rewards for those “caught in the act” of doing something right, we also share our goals of today and of the future. And we share our belief that only through their effort to provide quality workmanship, will the company remain a force in our chosen market niche.

Every successful business also has an obligation to community service. We meet this obligation through community services such as Adopt a Highway, sponsorship of local youth sports teams and contributions to local community organizations.

We feel that our level of performance should be considered the minimum performance standard accepted by the industry. While we continue to strive to improve our standards, we at the same time strive to raise the minimum performance expectations of the industry. We willingly and openly share our programs and ideas with our local competitors, suppliers and manufacturer reps who express an interest. While we often borrow ideas from outside the roofing industry, it is our goal to make the standards of the roofing industry intriguing to those trades on the outside watching us.

Professional Roofing of Holland

Owners: Patrick and Vicki Lipior

Location: Fennville, Mich.

2000 Residential Revenue: $380,000

Why are we intriguing? First of all, our company hand-nails all of its roofs. We have found this to be a dying breed. In our area and surrounding counties, only four other companies continue to hand nail. We strive for quality. Often when we are asked why we hand nail, we reply, “Because we can.” Quality matters most to us, not speed.

We also do charitable work for the elderly. We do one roof per year, donating all our labor. We get suppliers to donate material at cost or below, and Dumpster-rental companies donate boxes for free. We select one person based on age, need and financial situation. It is a terrific feeling when you can make the last few years of someone’s life happy, knowing they have no worries about their roof.

The company’s three partners do all the hands-on work, including roofing, bidding, charitable work, scheduling, keeping books, etc. Most companies that are owned have the “boss” and the “employees.” We are both. Customers like to see the owner working and it gives them confidence.

Our business is 90 percent referral based, and we surround ourselves with quality-minded people. We won’t do work for the guy who doesn’t care. Hand nailers are a dying breed, but people are getting wiser to the difference. We are always booked up for the following year for the whole year, and that tells a lot about our company in itself.