Sometimes a company offering the right products and services finds the perfect niche and great relationships just seem to flow naturally - or at least that’s how it seems from afar. Of course, at the heart of all that success is a lot of hard work done the right way, and it is this attention to quality that is the hallmark of Brian McPartlon Roofing LLC of Santa Fe, N.M.



Brian McPartlon Roofing has 30 employees, including eight who have been with the company more than 10 years. Brian McPartlon is second from top left.

Sometimes a company offering the right products and services finds the perfect niche and great relationships just seem to flow naturally - or at least that’s how it seems from afar. Of course, at the heart of all that success is a lot of hard work done the right way, and it is this attention to quality that is the hallmark of Brian McPartlon Roofing LLC of Santa Fe, N.M.

Santa Fe is a unique market, a 400-year-old city with a large number of historic dwellings located in the high desert at an elevation of 7,800 feet. Owner Brian McPartlon points out that strict architectural codes require that almost all buildings have flat roofs and parapet walls designed in the pueblo style. It’s also a small mar-ket, so a contractor has to be adept at several types of applications to keep new business coming in. While the company specializes in modified bitumen and metal roofing, it does both residential and commercial work, including new construction and retrofit roofing, as well as historic renovations. Workers are often involved in special situations that require expertise in all types of roofing products.

Over the years, McPartlon’s company not only evolved to fit its market - it helped revolutionize it by championing new materials that ensured better roof performance even as they blended in with the existing architectural style. The ability of McPartlon Roofing to thrive in its unique environment, its attention to quality workmanship and employee training, and its diverse array of products and services make it the 2007 Roofing Contractor Residential Contractor of the Year.

The company has taken on many historic renovation projects, including work restoring this round barn, which earned the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Award. These before and after photos document the restora-tion project.

Company History

McPartlon Roofing was founded by Kevin McPartlon, Brian’s brother, who moved to Santa Fe from San Francisco in 1983. Brian McPartlon joined him three years later and bought the company from his brother in 1993. The sons of Thomas James McPartlon, a roofer from the state of New York, they were both able to learn the trade at an early age.

McPartlon’s grandfather was a draftsman for General Electric, and his father was an estimator for a commercial roofing company. “We had plans all over the place, and I was very interested in blueprints and drafting,” Brian McPartlon remembers. “I started doing takeoffs for my dad at 14.”

His father discouraged him from pursuing roofing as a profession and encouraged him to pursue a college degree. McPartlon graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and painting, but he soon found himself doing roofing work. When his landlord was unable to repair a leak in his art studio, McPartlon went up in a driving rainstorm and fixed it himself. When his landlord, who had employed four different contractors in search of the leak, found out about the repair, he said, “Congratulations, you’re in the roofing business.” He con-tracted with McPartlon to repair the roofs at several of his other properties. “That’s how we got our start,” says McPartlon.

The McPartlon brothers quickly earned a reputation for their quality work on flat roofs. When Kevin McPartlon mar-ried a woman from Santa Fe, he fell in love with the area during his wedding and decided to move there. “It was a beautiful area, and the number of flat roofs made it a prefect fit for our business,” says Brian McPartlon, who soon joined him there.

The brothers found they had all of the roofing work they could handle. “You wouldn’t believe the techniques that were going on when we got here,” says McPartlon. “The roofs were sloped with dirt or pumice - a white vol-canic rock - and insulated with newspapers and charcoal from fireplaces. You’ve never seen anything like it. We still run into this on some of our older roofs.”

The company excelled in a number of applications, but they soon found APP was a great fit for many homes in the area and minimized wear and tear and labor costs. “We started up doing built-up, and we had heard about mod bit while we were in California, and we were using it,” McPartlon says. “We went to APP torch down in New Mexico, and found it resulted in less wear and tear on the trucks, fewer back injuries, and eliminated the use of gravel.”

McPartlon credits the training he received from manufacturers as an important factor in the company’s early success introducing APP modified bitumen to the northern New Mexico market. “We got good training from Danny Adair, who was with U.S. Intec at the time,” he says. “They supplied training, and we conducted architectural seminars in conjunction with them. It really took off.”

He made a point to credit his suppliers for helping him run his business efficiently, especially Greg Kyle, manager of the Santa Fe branch of ABC Supply.

“We’re called ‘the city of different’ and ‘the land of mañana,’” says McPartlon, noting that the laid-back atmosphere of Santa Fe is not always conducive to business. “The service we receive from ABC has really helped us cut costs and save time.”

McPartlon said his brother deserves a lot of credit for starting the company, and he also bears a debt of gratitude to Arden Kellogg, a retired roofer in Santa Fe, who helped the McPartlon brothers get their business get off the ground. “We took over his old building and clients on a handshake deal,” says McPartlon. “He really believed in us. I owe him a lot - my dad and Arden. I owe a lot to those two guys.”

McPartlon Roofing was contracted to replace the roof on the Georgia O’Keefe residence and studio in Abiquiu, N.M.

Working as a Team

Today, McPartlon Roofing employs 30 full-time people and exceeds $2 million in revenue. Owner Brian McPartlon serves as the general manager for the company. The office staff includes Matthew Berning, sales manager, and Jen-nifer Torre, office manager. Receptionist Georgia Sena-Maese handles all incoming calls, and she is the point person for the company’s maintenance division, as she handles complaints and coordinates warranty work. She dispatches the maintenance and warranty crew, which is headed up by Luis Hernandez. Hernandez is the company’s most ex-perienced employee, and he excels at finding leaks. “When we send out Luis, everyone feels like we’re sending the best we have,” says McPartlon. “He goes out of his way to tell everyone he’s been with the company longer than I have.”

Days after a storm are hectic, but the maintenance division keeps busy year round with scheduled maintenance, as the company sells maintenance programs, which specify periodic inspections. “Seventy-five percent of our custom-ers take it,” he says. “Georgia handles the paperwork.”

In addition to the maintenance division, the company is divided up into three crews - the mod bit crew, the metal crew, and the coating crew - and each group has its own foreman. Superintendent Angel Hernandez, who began work at the company the same day Brian did 21 years ago, assigns the crews and checks the ongoing work at the jobsites. “I don’t think there’s a day goes by that he doesn’t put 100 miles on his truck,” says McPartlon.

McPartlon is proud of the longevity of his employees, pointing to eight employees who have been with the company more than a decade. “The ten-year guys, I treat like gold,” he says. “It’s a family business, and we’ve had a lot of father-son combinations over the years.”

An interior shot of the Georgia O’Keefe residence and studio.

It All Starts With Training

McPartlon points to training as the key to instilling quality workmanship and company pride. “We don’t hire roofers - or we very seldom hire roofers,” says McPartlon. “We bring in people with no training. They’re usually assigned to labor positions. We evaluate their talents, and the good ones are put under the supervision of the foreman for train-ing. The training process is very slow. We build the employee to our model.”

New employees are first assigned to tear-off and cleanup crews. After a two-month review period, laborers who qualify are promoted to an apprentice position to be trained by journeyman roofers. The normal time for an appren-tice to move up to roofer is about two years. Foremen can achieve this status in four to five years.

Every Monday the company has a mandatory safety meeting, which addresses basic topics such as lifting, harness use and tie-offs before covering the specific issues regarding the week’s upcoming jobs.

But it’s not just education that instills a work ethic dedicated to best practices; it’s a company culture that is reinforced from the top down and the bottom up. “It’s all about leadership,” McPartlon says. “It’s not just training. The guys who are in the upper positions are leaders, and they train by example.”

Workers at the company have learned to trust one another, says McPartlon. “We trust the guys in the field,” he asserts. “We take the recommendation of the foreman, even if it costs us money. The guys in the field tell us what’s wrong, and we listen. I’m so confident in our workforce.”

The company completed the roofing work on this residence in Valdez, N.M., which is owned by Gary Johnson, a two-term governor of New Mexico.

Sales and Marketing

The company has had only three salesmen in its history, and all of them are family members who have worked as journeymen and foremen. It is the company’s belief that this knowledge from hands-on training ensures that estimators can educate consumers and inform them of all possible situations.

“All of our salesmen have been roofers,” says McPartlon. “They look at each job specifically and go over every part of the procedure with the homeowner.” The company allows one-and-a-half to two hours for every sales call, says McPartlon. The salesmen use a laptop, instructional materials, samples and even site drawings to explain the proposal. Every proposal includes digital photographs of the entire roof and any specific details, such as the air conditioning unit, satellite dish, or any other penetrations, as well as the sur-rounding area. Copies of all the photos are kept in the job folder, and the photos are not only used to edu-cate the homeowner, but to prep the crews for the job. Photos are marked to show how ladders should be set up, where to put the dumpster and how the details should be flashed. “That way, you know what you’re up against before you get there,” he states.

The company’s marketing budget includes radio and print advertising, local homeowners’ association newsletters, as well as Yellow Pages ads, truck signs and yard signs with the company’s unique logo. “It’s one of the things that make us different - we market,” McPartlon notes. “Marketing is different from sales. We have a full-time marketing person, and all he does is marketing.”

The company completed the reroofing job on this restaurant in downtown Santa Fe using Polarhide coating.

New Technology

The company has had only three salesmen in its history, and all of them are family members who have worked as journeymen and foremen. It is the company’s belief that this knowledge from hands-on training ensures that estimators can educate consumers and inform them of all possible situations.

“All of our salesmen have been roofers,” says McPartlon. “They look at each job specifically and go over every part of the procedure with the homeowner.” The company allows one-and-a-half to two hours for every sales call, says McPartlon. The salesmen use a laptop, instructional materials, samples and even site drawings to explain the proposal. Every proposal includes digital photographs of the entire roof and any specific details, such as the air conditioning unit, satellite dish, or any other penetrations, as well as the sur-rounding area. Copies of all the photos are kept in the job folder, and the photos are not only used to edu-cate the homeowner, but to prep the crews for the job. Photos are marked to show how ladders should be set up, where to put the dumpster and how the details should be flashed. “That way, you know what you’re up against before you get there,” he states.

The company’s marketing budget includes radio and print advertising, local homeowners’ association newsletters, as well as Yellow Pages ads, truck signs and yard signs with the company’s unique logo. “It’s one of the things that make us different - we market,” McPartlon notes. “Marketing is different from sales. We have a full-time marketing person, and all he does is marketing.”

Notable Projects

The company has been the roofing contractor on award-winning projects including a historic building known simply as “the round barn,” which won the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Award. The company was the prime contractor during restoration of the former governor’s mansion in Santa Fe, known as the Peyton Wright Gallery, and the project received the City of Santa Fe Heritage Preservation Award. “Governor King called us out to the governor’s mansion on Christmas Eve one year to fix a leak, and we got the reroofing job,” McPartlon recalls. “We reroofed a section that Christmas Eve.”

Other notable historic renovation projects include the Georgia O’Keefe residence and studio in Abiquiu, N.M. “I had the pleasure of meeting her when I was in college,” says McPartlon of O’Keefe, and he was honored to take on the job of restoring her home after it was donated to a museum after her death. O’Keefe had put dirt on the original built-up roof to make it blend in with the local architecture, notes McPartlon. In 1990, he reroofed the building with an insulated mod bit system with a granulated surface that matched the look of the previous roof. “We added the granulated finish to the seams, etc., to give it a monolithic appearance,” says McPartlon.

Another memorable project was the United States Federal Courthouse in Santa Fe, which had a 100-year-old copper roof. Workers relined the gutter with TPO and repaired the roof and scalloped fascia. “We set up scaffolding and were there for six months,” McPartlon recalls. “We redid every joint and all the mi-tered corners and scalloped fascia. Replacement parts had to be fabricated on site and soldered into place. The company completed work on the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial Angel Fire, N.M., this summer; workers had first applied an elastomeric coating a decade earlier. “They remodeled and added some wings, and we put Polarhide on the roof,” says McPartlon. “We’re very proud of that project.”

Other Achievements

Over the past 10 years, McPartlon Roofing has provided all labor at no cost for the installation of six Habi-tat for Humanity roofs. McPartlon, a Rotarian, chaired a Rotary Club 100-year anniversary project called “100 Rotarians Build,” which constructed four Habitat houses in less than 100 days.

McPartlon and his wife Marcy have four children and live outside of Santa Fe. Painting is still his passion, notes McPartlon. “I still paint every day,” he says. “I built a studio out back, and it was constructed from all recycled material, including beams cut from standing dead timber on the property.”

But McPartlon still counts roofing as his first priority. The company has increased revenues by 10 percent for the past three years, and the goal is to reach $5 million in the next seven years, when McPartlon plans to retire. “We have a plan in place for an employee buyout,” he notes. “We’re developing a plan to make the transition. We’re always looking ahead.”

Asked what makes his company excel, he ticks off three items: “Training is No. 1. Pride in workmanship. Leadership,” he says. “We’re thinking about quality assurance before, during and after the job. It all really comes down to our foremen.”

“It’s a team effort here,” concludes McPartlon. “This award goes to the whole company. We’re nothing without our employees, and we’re nothing without our customers. We have a great customer base, and it’s a great source of referrals. Our closing rate is unreal; we may have the best closing rate of anyone in the country.”