When United States Roofing Corp. of Norristown, Pa., needed somebody to step up to the plate and provide a line of credit, Citizens Bank was there standing tall.
Despite not having a prior relationship, within weeks a deal was complete and United States Roofing Corp. was back in the profitable roofing game.
The comeback story was complete when United States Roofing Corp. President David Farragut nominated Citi-zens Bank as his Most Valuable Partner in 2007.
A Great RelationshipWhen it comes to loaning money in a tight economy, roofing companies may not be high on a bank’s priority list. But don’t tell that to Citizens Bank of Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
“It’s not easy creating relationships - it comes with experience,” Dale Carr, the Citizens Bank Relationship Manager for United States Roofing Corp., told Roofing Contractor. “It comes with getting to know the cus-tomer very well. A culture that says we’re going to be consistent on how to handle things.”
United States Roofing Corp. approached Citizens Bank in January 2003. According to Farragut, the roofing company had been purchased in 2000 as part of a “roll-up.” But in December of 2002, United States Roofing Corp. was ap-proached by the purchaser to buy the company back in a very short time frame. At the time, United States Roofing Corp. was doing its financial business with another bank. “Quite frankly, we felt they did not step up for us,” Farragut said. “They made us go through the full underwriting process, and we were a client for 20 years. They treated us like a brand-new client.”
Enter Citizens Bank, who provided United States Roofing Corp. with a line of credit and never second-guessed the company’s desire to be profitable.
“Citizens stepped up and immediately went the extra mile,” Farragut said. “They did all the underwriting, provided us the loan to buy the company back and gave us a line of credit - all in just two weeks. Not knowing us just two weeks prior, they became our biggest supporter.”
For Citizens Bank, the relationships with its clients are far-reaching. “You have to be predictable, consistent, they have to know you,” Carr said. “United States Roofing knows my credit officer, they know my executive manager; they know the people that help them out. It’s a broad and deep relationship. You have to have a relationship with a customer where they feel comfortable telling us the good and bad.”
Carr said Citizens Bank tries to do the right thing for everyone involved, which means communication. “We keep in touch, ask the right questions and give them suggestions,” he said.
Truth be told, contractors aren’t always the easiest people to get to know from a financial point of view. “United States Roofing Corp. is in a very tough, competitive business that is subject to economic cycles. The mortality rates of the business can be challenging,” Carr said. “There are very good contractors. But some never get there. You have to be comfortable with who you are dealing with.”
Chief Financial Officer Brad Huber is extremely comfortable with the Citizens Bank team. “They were interested in our success from the beginning,” Huber told Roofing Contractor. “We are very happy with the relation-ship.”
“The relationship is interactive - a two-way street, not them always calling me, not them waiting for me to call,” Carr said. “I probably talk with Brad a couple times a week.”
What a line a credit does for a contractor helps dictate what the company’s future holds. “We’re in the midst of doing other things with them right now,” Carr said. “It never goes too far where either one of us says, ‘When was last time I saw you?’ We’re looking ahead. They are expanding and we’re going to expand with them.”
Two-Edged SwordCarr said two details stick out the most when dealing with United States Roofing Corp. “Look at the track re-cord and financial performance, they’ve done a great job,” he said. “You need to understand if a company’s success was because of a strong economy or because they are a good operator. What you have to do is get a sense of two things: how did they perform on the last downturn, and how did they handle adversity.”
Carr knows the relationship between United States Roofing Corp. and Citizens Bank is a “two-edged sword.” “Part of what makes them successful is that they have the ability to take on large, complex projects with sophisti-cated customers,” Carr said. “There is also risk associated with these types of projects. Some companies can manage those risks, some can’t. Understanding the risks and seeing how United States Roofing Corp. handles both the risk and the opportunity is what makes it work for both of us.”
Huber understands, which is one reason why United States Roofing Corp. is one of the fastest-growing roofing com-panies in Pennsylvania. “We’re doing other projects right now,” Huber said. “We’re purchasing a new building, and Citizens Bank has been nothing but fully cooperative and positive. Banks typically can be a little buttoned up. We feel Citizens embraces the entrepreneurial spirit of their customers. They don’t find ways to not make things happen.” Recently, United States Roofing Corp. purchased a building, which will house their new corporate headquarters. Citizens Bank didn’t hesitate to provide funding for the deal.
“To be prudent, I talked to two other banks,” Huber said. “Neither could come close to providing the funding we re-quired, nor the level of service we have become accustomed to receiving from Dale and Citizens Bank.”
Projects in the MidstWith over 200 employees, some recent and current projects United States Roofing Corp. is working on include vari-ous local school districts, Three Mile Island and various commercial projects in the Philadelphia area. “We run the gamut from reroofs to repairs to tear-offs to putting on new roofs,” Huber said. “We’re also doing major commercial projects in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. The Lockheed Martin facility outside of Philadelphia is a big pro-ject that we are working on right now, as well as the Philadelphia Free Library. We’re 100 percent commercial, of which 20 percent is new construction.”
For all that Citizens Bank has done for United States Roofing Corp., and vice-versa, Carr is happy about the honor of a roofing company nominating his bank as a Most Valuable Partner. “My first thought was pleasantly surprised, honored and humbled they would think of us,” Carr said. “We’re partners.”