When storms wreak havoc, Lon Smith Roofing and Construction in Fort Worth, Texas, provides a calming effect for those affected.
As one of the largest re-roofing contractors in the United States specializing in insurance-funded storm damage, don’t be surprised to see Lon Smith contractors on site to repair structural roof pain in the aftermath of a storm.
There are a lot of freak storms in Texas, so David Cox, President of Lon Smith Roofing, said the company keeps busy year-round, to the tune of $46.8 million in revenue last year.
“Our residential business expands and contracts based on the amount of storm damage in any given year,” said Cox, whose company ranked No. 11 in Roofing Contractor’s Top 100.
“Our commercial business is significantly more affected by economic conditions,” Cox continued. “Many commercial organizations consider roof repairs or maintenance as expenses they can put off when times are slow.”
Cox said the recent credit crunch emptied the pipeline of construction lending that will take 12 months to recover, but that won’t slow Lon Smith Roofing’s residential work.
“We will work very hard every day to deliver beautiful new roofs, on time and at competitive prices,” Cox said. “That will not change.”
David Cox said managing the volume elasticity in the company’s business model requires “strong controls, dedicated employees and a commitment to relationships with all of those who support you.”
“From manufacturers and distributors to customers and insurance industry personnel, all are vitally important,” Cox said. “Strong employee benefits (including Health, Life, 401(k) and a performance based bonus program) have allowed us to keep turnover very low, grow and empower managers, and make partners out of employees.”
The bonus program has published volume and profit gates that all employees are aware of and can see.
“When we realized they were watching it, we knew we were on to something,” Cox said. “They spend company money and make decisions like it was their own. In reality, it is their own. I heard someone say once that ‘you can buy their hands, but they have to give you their hearts and minds.’ I have found that to be true. They have a lot of pride in what we do.”
In addition, Lon Smith Roofing and Construction makes use of all the technology they can find.
“We do both steep- and low -slope roofing, metal buildings, insulation, ventilation, gutters, and a variety of other home improvement services,” Cox said. “It is our approach to business more than the products or services we provide. We desire to be more than an installer of products, more than an employer, more than a customer of distributors and manufacturers. Part of this is being the best, most knowledgeable and accomplished with any products you work with or sell. But it is more than that.”
Two of the biggest trends are “anything green and roof system selling,” Cox noted.
“Current political rhetoric and government programs have put sustainability on everyone’s mind,” he said. “Reflective granule shingles, radiant barriers, insulation, ventilation and solar power systems are all products the customers rarely wanted to discuss until recently. Now, they call in asking about it.”
Lon Smith Roofing and Construction is concerned about the environment.
“Energy consumption of our residential and commercial footprint seems more controllable and fits in our industry disciplines,” Cox said. “As a company, we recycle in the office and we recycle tear-off as best we can. Educating our customers on how to lower their energy bills, however, will have a much larger and longer lasting impact than anything we might do organizationally.”
As for the roof system itself, asphalt shingle manufacturers are offering enhanced warranties to the consumer for installing their shingles in combination with other roofing products such as underlayments and ventilation.
“We have seen some appetite from the consumer for this,” Cox said.
Listen to Customers
Lon Smith Roofing and Construction never learned anything from talking. Instead, Cox said the main thing when dealing with customers is to listen.
“They will tell you what they want, how they want to buy it, and how they want to pay for it,” Cox said. “We conduct ourselves with integrity. Treat the customer how you want to be treated. And work harder. Just because the economy is sluggish doesn’t mean it is nonexistent.”
Cox believes in the old saying, “They never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
“That is true,” he said. “The best way to show how much you care is to listen to what they are thinking. You can’t do that while you are talking.”
Lon Smith Roofing started in Fort Worth in 1974 and the company has grown over the years with the simple formula of a “Commitment to Excellence.”
The company’s founder, Lon Smith, believed that “no matter how good we are, we can always do better.”
The legacy of “Commitment to Excellence” survives today. Lon Smith Roofing and Construction is still committed to providing the finest roofing products and the most trusted service in the industry.
While Lon Smith Roofing’s “Commitment to Excellence” may seem easy to say, it’s much harder to do.
“We operate with ethics and integrity and we believe in giving people quality for what they pay for,” Cox said. “We also believe in treating people the way we would want to be treated.”
The company’s legacy of excellence is the foundation on which the company was built.
“From the initial contract to the final inspection - it’s our commitment to the character of our representatives, consistency in our workmanship, and concern for our clients and customers that separates Lon Smith Roofing from all our competitors,” Cox said.
Of course, it all starts with ethics and integrity being big parts of Lon Smith Roofing and Construction.
“Knowing who you are and where you come from is important in family,” Cox said. “It is important in our business, too. Considering our longevity, there are not many mistakes we haven’t made.”
Cox said remembering and telling past stories will keep the company from making the same ones again.
“We are not afraid to share our experiences,” he said. “They make us stronger and might help others.”
Cox said the company’s founder, Lonnie Smith, was a big storyteller. “He enjoyed sharing the bad ones almost as much as the good ones,” he said. “He was proud of his accomplishments but not afraid or ashamed to remember the mistakes. Just don’t make the same mistakes again.”
But it all comes back to ethics and integrity. “It has become increasingly rare in our society,” Cox said of ethics and integrity. “As such, in my opinion, it is more highly valued than ever. I’ve told many employees, ‘I can handle you making mistakes, but I can’t handle lying.’ It is a deal killer. I don’t ever want a customer to tell us the same thing.”
For more information about Lon Smith Roofing, visit www.lonsmith.com.