2007Roofing Contractor Commercial Contractor of the Year: Commitment to Customers Is Key

Great Lakes Roofing general managers Bob Snook, left, and John Stallman, center, go over plans on a recent project with salesman Jim Rehn. In the background are Great Lakes roofers Tony Hantz and Mark Fry.

When Great Lakes Roofing Corporation of Germantown, Wis., was named the 2007Roofing ContractorCommercial Contractor of the Year, it was a result of putting the customer first and keeping its employees safe on the job.

“Great Lakes Roofing Corporation should be considered one of the best contractors because of its commitment to taking care of the customer: both internal (employees) and external (building owners),” says Mark Bartolutti, vice president of Great Lakes Roofing Corp. “The commitment to our employees has been shown through our continu-ously improving safety program.”

After winning the Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award for the first time in 1997, Great Lakes Roofing made 15 im-provements to its safety program. After winning the safety award a second straight year, the company made 50 more improvements. “This commitment has allowed us to win the Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award eight of the last 10 years,” says Bartolutti, who notes employees learn how to take care of the company’s customers by watching how Great Lakes Roofing’s top administration takes care of its employees. “Turkeys donated at Thanksgiving, roses for wives/partners on Mother’s Day, bonus programs, benefits package, vacation days; heated crew rooms … these are all some of the ways Great Lakes Roofing says ‘thank you’ to their employees for all the little things needed to be done to take care of all customers’ problems.”

Great Lakes Roofing models how to take care of customers through their Helping Hands Community Service Program, which donates time and talent, along with materials, to non-profit organizations with roof repairs.

Improving Safety

Each week, through the company’s three Wisconsin locations in Germantown, Menasha, and McFarland, and one location in Waukeegan, Ill., there are meetings that focus on improving safety, quality and customer service. “Every-thing that is done to take care of the customer is analyzed to make sure Great Lakes Roofing is doing what was promised or what is expected,” Bartolutti says. “After inclement weather, customers get a telephone call to double-check on roof repairs and installed roofs.”

Great Lakes Roofing is keen on modeling the behavior they want to teach employees. “Reinforce how things get done, not just what gets done,” Bartolutti says. “Accountability - admit mistakes - then fix it as soon as possible.” The goal at Great Lakes Roofing is 20 years with no lost-time injuries. “You can see the response in the employees in the quality of their work,” says Bartolutti, who started Great Lake Roofing in 1987 with President Donald Puc-cetti. “It’s working.”

Bartolutti and Puccetti met years earlier while working as roofers to pay for their college education while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We were working our way through college,” Bartolutti recalls, “and fell in love with the roofing industry.”

Employees at Great Lakes Roofing Corp. learn how to take care of the company’s customers by watching how its administration takes care of its employees. Turkeys donated at Thanksgiving are just one of those traits passed on by the company.

Helping Hands

Great Lakes Roofing models how to take care of customers through their Helping Hands Community Service Pro-gram. “The program donates time and talent, along with materials, to needy, non-profit organizations with roof prob-lems,” says Bartolutti, noting over $22,000 in roofing work was performed on 10 volunteer projects, and $6,000 has been raised for youth groups. “This modeling reinforces not only what we do, but how we do it,” he says.

As proof of how the company takes care of its employees, Great Lakes Roofing scheduled a paintball out-ing this year for its company. “We called it the ‘2007 Employee Appreciation Day,’” Bartolutti notes. “The managers and owners get to wear bright colored shirts with bulls-eyes printed on them, while everyone else gets to wear camouflage and tan shirts.”

With over 50 dedicated employees spread out over its four offices, the paintball tournament was a perfect mix for Great Lakes Roofing’s internal structure. “It’s our commitment to doing what’s right,” Bartolutti says. “Know why you went into business. Work on your business, not just at your business.”

Great Lakes Roofing President Don Puccetti offers advice to his employees at a company Safety Day. Puccetti preaches safety to his employees every day on the job.

Best of the Best

Bartolutti and Puccetti deal primarily in commercial roofing, but the goal to be a leader in the industry is unchanged whether it’s a commercial, residential or industrial application. “There is a sign hanging at each location saying, ‘Best of the Best,’” says Bartolutti, noting this is a way to communicate the com-pany’s goal of how things should be done.

Because of this commitment to be ‘the best,’ the company has been recognized with the following awards and hon-ors:
  • 2002 SPRI Contractor Achievement Award
  • 2003 NRCA Gold Circle Award for Community Service
  • 2005 Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin Torch Award for Business Ethics and Integrity
  • Eight-time Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award Winner
  • Two-time BondCote Roofing Systems Eagle Award Winner for Top Contractor in the Nation for 2004 and 2005

Great Lakes Roofing scheduled a paintball outing this year for its company and called it Employee Appreciation Day. The managers and owners wore bright colored shirts with bulls-eyes printed on them, while everyone else wore camouflage and tan shirts.

A Unique Company

A commitment to the company’s core values started early. Puccetti has always touted teamwork and communication as being paramount to the company’s success.

“Promise good, deliver excellent and then ask for referrals,” Puccetti suggests when asked about key elements in succeeding in the roofing industry. “One mistake at a time - just not the same mistake. Fix mistakes as quick as possible.”

Puccetti believes Great Lakes Roofing unique because employees know the company values its customers above all else. “Taking care of the customer’s problems is No. 1,” he said. “Communication is important.”

Puccetti points out the “Customer Service Punch List” that hangs on the wall for everyone to see. On that list are items such as: Consistency; Attitude; 100 Percent Satisfaction; Continued Improvement; Be Flexible; Be Profes-sional; Discipline; Can Do; Honesty; Value; Problem Solvers; Communication; Ownership; Callbacks; Billing; Feedback; Pride; Create a Story; Focused/Concerned; Values, Beliefs and Goals; Market; Call Before; Clean Jobsite; and Do It Right The First Time.

Through the same visual cues, photos are posted on the Great Lakes Roofing “Wall of Shame” to show what not to do. “Key is the commitment to being safe always,” Bartolutti says. “The most important thing - make sure you’re going home at the end of the day.”

At the end of the day, Puccetti agrees with Roofing Contractor’s assessment that they are one of the best contractors in the business. “Great Lakes Roofing Corporation is a leader in the roofing industry,” he says, “and we’re raising the bar of acceptable practices for roofers.”