Little did Steve Gotschi know that a project with his son’s Cub Scout pack would blossom into an annual ritual for his growing roofing and exterior remodeling company. Gotschi is owner of DryHome Roofing & Siding Inc., which is in its 29th year of operation in northern Virginia.
The CompanyGotschi started his career in the roofing and construction industry as a teenager working for a general contractor building homes. He had his mind set on driving one of those ubiquitous brown delivery trucks, and even went to George Mason University for a year. With a need to earn income and knowledge of the trade learned at a very young age, Gotschi started the company with a friend at age 20 and has not looked back.
Like so many roofing contractors, Gotschi started small. He worked out of a van with the rear window out to accommodate ladders (that is what you do before you have generated the capital to purchase ladder racks). The enterprise stayed small for years, but Gotschi finally hung up his tools in 1999 and started to run the business. With the help of some paid consultants he learned what it means to run a roofing business (as opposed to working on the roof) and the business has been growing and successful ever since.
DryHome Roofing & Siding Inc. performs primarily residential exterior retrofit work, but does some multi-family work for property managers. Focusing on the real estate resale market, Gotschi develops almost a third of his business there while counting on most of his leads from client referrals. The company also does some work for a select group of small residential building and remodeling contractors. Three-quarters of the company’s work is roofing and the balance is a combination of other residential exterior work including siding, windows and gutters. The firm has grown to a staff of over 20 producing annual sales of $3 million.
Gotschi cites sales and marketing as the most fun and interesting parts of his work. He stays in touch with his client base by way of a newsletter, Your DryHome Quarterly. It’s a slick and professional newsletter with very nice visuals and project features, yet very readable. The DryHome people featured in each issue are bound to be familiar to their clients. Gotschi says the newsletter is not used as a sales tool, but is for building on their brand. The secondary banner on each issue of the newsletter reminds customers, “Everyone wants a DryHome.” In a business where three-quarters of the leads come from referrals, this is no doubt valuable.
Other programs are in place to encourage referrals, including a Starbucks gift card and a drawing for a $100 dinner. With a large portion of the company’s business coming from a small number of real estate agents, Gotschi also holds events to entertain them while educating them on exterior renovation issues.
The Annual RitualIn 2003, Gotschi’s son, Shane, was a member of the Cub Scouts. DryHome reroofed the Cub Scout’s meeting place for free. “And, I liked it,” Gotschi recalled. The next year the firm gave a new roof to the Good Shepherd Alliance for one of its shelters. The Good Shepherd Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency housing and support for the homeless in Northern Virginia.
In 2005 Gotschi reached out to his existing customers and asked for nominations for the recipient. The free roof that year went to Gabriel House of Reston, Va. Gabriel Homes Inc. is a nonprofit organization promoting independence through residential placement, training and community integration for adults with mental retardation. DryHome provided a new roof for one of their homes free of charge. Materials for the project were contributed by Herb Oldknow, General Manager at ABC Supply Company in Springfield, Va.
By now the idea that DryHome Roofing & Siding, Inc. would give away a roof around Christmastime was pretty much institutionalized. Calling the project “DryHome for the Holidays,” the idea was to get nominations in by the end of November and complete the project before Christmas. In 2006 an individual was the recipient of the free roof. A widow, Mrs. Kaylor of Leesburg, Va., served as a volunteer at her church and was cited as a “real inspiration” by the Feeney family, which nominated her for the free roof. The project became a little extended when DryHome went on to replace the fascia, gutters, and a flat roof on the back of the home.
In 2007, Mr. Burnette “Bernie” Cline, 85, was nominated by Roger Healy of RPJ Housing, an affiliate of Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April). Cline is like so many retired folks on a fixed income. Owning a home is far from free as it ages. In poor repair, as we all know in the roofing industry, a leaking roof causes all manners of collateral damage to a home. Having lived in the home since 1956, Cline was more than pleased to accept his DryHome for the Holidays. The Roof Center Inc., represented by Cory Fecko, and CertainTeed Corp. participated in the project as well.
Let's Do It Again!At the time of this writing, the letters were set to go out to the DryHome client list seeking nominations for the 2008 DryHome for the Holidays. As with most communities, there is much need and the project will bring a cleaner, healthier living environment for some deserving folks. The goodwill in the community and the involvement of the entire DryHome team arguably has a good deal of value for the firm. They do not play it up or make a big deal out of it, but people in their community know and appreciate that DryHome Roofing stops what they are doing once a year to give back.
Gotschi has had the experience of being homeless himself for a time, and his needs in this life are simple. He says, “food in the refrigerator and a roof over your head” are signs of achievement. While he works, like many roofing contractors, “too many hours” during the week, he values his time away and especially quality time with members of his family (some of whom work with him in the business).
The best way to end this story is with a quote from Steve Gotschi taken directly from Issue 9 of Your DryHome Quarterly. He writes, “I hope that … this will encourage others to start volunteering their time to those who are in need. Volunteer work gives you the opportunity to be face to face with those less fortunate, and to see that these are regular, good people. God bless and happy holidays.”