entiMark Corp. of Pittsburgh is a family-owned company that defies logic when it comes to making its clients happy.
With 100 percent of its work in the commercial arena, CentiMark Corp. racked up $420 million in sales last year, and the company continues to make strides as it focuses on quality workmanship and satisfying its customers.
“It’s been a long, arduous process,” CentiMark Corp. President & COO Tim Dunlap told Roofing Contractor.
Dunlap, 48, grew up in the business and hit the ground running by working part time on weekends as a teenager. Today, Dunlap is in his seventh year at the helm of CentiMark. “Two weeks after graduating high school in 1978 and I was on a roof crew,” Dunlap said. “The last seven years as COO.”
Though his father, Edward Dunlap, is chairman and CEO of the company, it is Tim Dunlap who is responsible to oversee the day-to-day operations.
“My father is still very involved in the business,” Tim Dunlap said. “This is a family business.”
Edward Dunlap started D&B Laboratories in 1967 as a part-time industrial cleaning business in the basement of his home. In 1968, with $1,000 seed money from D&B Laboratories and one associate, Dunlap started Northern Chemical Company. This upstart building maintenance products and services business produced first year sales of $98,500.
In response to customer needs, Northern Chemical Company became involved in roof maintenance. In the 1970s, the oil crisis negatively impacted the built-up roofing market that was dependent on crude oil for asphalt. The quality of asphalt decreased as oil companies were pressed to extract as much oil from crude as possible and the price of asphalt increased, resulting in higher roofing prices.
Concerned about the quality of bituminous materials used in built-up tar and asphalt roofs, CentiMark began marketing and installing single-ply rubber (EPDM) roof systems. The newly developed EPDM polymer was both durable and waterproof. It was a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to the increasing costs associated with built-up roofing. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rubber polymer was one of the fastest-growing roofing products and accounted for almost 40 percent of new and replacement roofs on commercial and industrial properties.
The company grew through geographical expansion, diversification of product line and an aggressive National Accounts Program. In 1987, the corporate name was officially changed to CentiMark Corporation.
“We are not a roll-up type of company,” Tim Dunlap said. “My father started the company in 1968 and has grown organically through our people.”Company Philosophy
When a company has been as successful as CentiMark, it’s natural to ask, “What is the company philosophy?”
“You’ll get a chuckle out of this, but my father’s philosophy is extremely simple: “We simply sell roofs, install quality roof systems, and collect the money for it,” Tim Dunlap said. It might be a simple truth, but the company philosophy has served CentiMark well through the years.
“In the process of installing quality roofs, the safety of our employees is the top priority,” Dunlap noted. “We spend a lot of money investing in safety programs and equipment. We want our employees to return home safely each day. Roofing is a dangerous job.”
CentiMark Corp. has 2,500 employees spread across the country with many offices located in large markets.
“Our bigger markets are in Chicago, Atlanta, Texas, California, Philadelphia, New York City and New Jersey,” Dunlap said. “We have 65 offices overall, including four in Canada and one in Puerto Rico.”
Dunlap said the economic climate might have a negative impact on overall revenue in 2009. “I feel we are going to slip a little business-wise because of the economy,” he said. “The marketplace is certainly more competitive, and market share has decreased due to the economy. We are not looking at record-breaking sales, but I see us back to even in 2010.”
Not bad for a company with revenue of $1 million in 1974, $10 million in 1984 and $100 million in 1994.
In 2000, CentiMark became the first and only roofing contractor to achieve a 5A1 rating from Dun & Bradstreet based on a strong credit appraisal and net worth in excess of $50 million.
Like most roofing contractors across the United States, it’s not always easy finding work in tough economic conditions.
“No, it’s not easy, but over the years we’ve continued to foster and grow national account relationships,” Dunlap said. “We do a lot of business with Fortune 500 companies - one of the factors of our growth.”
Dunlap said the company’s “service initiatives” are important each day in finding work. “Growing our service business is a priority,” he said. “Establishing more relationships or getting our foot in the door via relationships.”
Another key to CentiMark’s list of job-finding achievements: Technology.
“Our Asset Management on-line program enables customers to rank their roofs by condition and determine if repairs or re-roofing is the best solution,” Dunlap said. “We give our customers the information they need to make better decisions to help them lower the cost of ownership of their roofing portfolios.”
“The bottom line: Over the last 41 years we’ve established loyal and dedicated long-term employees who serve our customers well,” he continued. “That translates into repeat business, long-term repetitive accounts and relationships.”
Of the hundreds of projects CentiMark completes each year, it recently completed a garden roof system on a building housing Highmark.
“It was a vegetative roof system,” Dunlap said. “A high profile job: a 22,000-square-foot roof; a $652,000 job. The roof was torn to the deck. We used TPO sheeting, leak detection systems, and a progressive vegetative system.”
CentiMark also just completed another high-profile job in Seattle.
“It was a high-rise project called Park Place in downtown Seattle,” Dunlap said. “It was a 14,000-square-foot vegetative project in the $400,000 range - a complex type of roof system.”
CentiMark has also completed work with NASA, including one project in Houston.
“We are completing a $2.6 million, 50,000-square-foot tear-off,” he said. “It’s a multiple-ply, hot mopped modified bitumen system. Another job, a Spanish TV station out of Doral, Fla., is a 73,000-square-foot, $1.2 million urethane foam project.”
CentiMark Corp. is no stranger to the green movement. “The trends in business are green roofs and vegetative-type roofs,” Dunlap said. “It’s all about energy-efficient roof systems.”
For its part, CentiMark Corp., through their Service Department, is working on solar initiatives. “It’s in its infancy,” Dunlap said. “Customer requests brought us into the solar arena. We are not yet into solar panels but we have been installing many daylighting systems.”
Dunlap said solar tube-type installations are working well at CentiMark. “The prismatic skylight systems, along with electrical technology,” he said. “We offer a package deal. We supply the skylights, install them, and an electrical contractor will complete the lighting system. Interior building lights dim or turn off from light generated by these skylights. It’s so new expectations are not yet known.”
When it comes to remediation versus remove and replace, CentiMark has answers depending on the customer’s needs.
“If a roof needs torn off, it’s going to be torn off,” he said. “With the economy, most people would like to get into some type of system to help them out in the short term. If it needs to be replaced, a solution might be a recover versus full blown tear off.”
There’s no crystal ball at CentiMark Corp., so deciphering what the economy will be like in 2010 is pure conjecture. “As people’s confidence in the economy starts to escalate, we’ll see more capital dollars spent,” Dunlap said. “Whether that’s the last six months of this year, 2010 or possibly into 2011. I wish I had an answer.”
Still, CentiMark looks for trends that it can capitalize on in the future. “White sheets with multiple layers of insulation and white coating systems,” Dunlap said. “That’s been a big trend in the roofing industry along with green roofs. People tend to lump green into white sheets and vegetative roof systems.”
At CentiMark, safety is always the top priority. “The hardest thing is the safety aspect,” Dunlap said. “It goes back to keeping employees safe. One of the most difficult things you can do. You can spend all the time in the world and all the money teaching and training employees. But the bottom line is it boils down to that employee making a decision to utilize the equipment and training.”
“The roofing business is not easy, as evidenced by companies going in and out of business,” he continued. “A handful of long-term players are out there that have been around for a long time, and have been successful. It’s a difficult but rewarding business. We always strive to serve our customers,” Dunlap concluded. “That’s who we are.”
For more information, visit www.CentiMark.com.