Everyone with relatives knows that families might drive you crazy sometimes, but they can also be a great source of strength. The same might be said of family businesses. Members of successful businesses, like those in happy families, have a way of rising to meet life’s challenges. At F&F Roofing, members of the Giugliano family have been meeting challenges on New York’s rooftops for more than 50 years. And they’ve been doing it with a smile.
F&F Roofing opened its doors in 1959 in Floral Park, N.Y. The company is owned by brothers Frank, Pat and Carl Giugliano, who also own Kelly Window Systems, a sister company headquartered in nearby Farmingdale. Frank and Pat run the roofing business, while Carl concentrates on the window company.
The next generation of Giuglianos has been hard at work at the company for two decades. Titles aren’t a big deal at F& F, but Frank’s son Mark and Pat’s son Bill are poised to take over someday. “Mark and Bill grew up in the business,” said Pat. “They are the future.”
The bulk of the company’s work is commercial re-roofing, but Pat points out that F&F does all types of roofing work. “We’ve pretty much got it covered,” he said. “We’re primarily a commercial and industrial company, but we do residential as well. Most of our work is with clients we’ve been dealing with for a long time. Frank has been working with some customers for 45 years.”
Frank started out an apprentice in the 1950s and then started doing his own sheet metal work. He founded the company, and as it grew he called in other family members to help him run it. Carl came on board first. “He had a business background, and he came in and organized the office,” said Frank. “Then he branched into windows.”
“Then things got really busy, and they added me,” said Pat. At the time, he was working as a high school history teacher and struggling to support his family. “I made $129 every two weeks,” he said. “I wasn’t paying the bills. The day I got my tenure I told them I was leaving.”
In the early years, the bulk of the company’s work was built-up roofing and shingling apartment complexes. “My first experience was lugging shingles up to those garden apartments,” said Pat. “We landed a couple of big accounts, and it just kept growing.”
Bill and Mark worked at the company during the summer while attending college and eventually decided to join the company. Other family members in the roofing side of the business include Pat’s daughter, Pam Trodden, a lawyer who helps run the office. At Kelly Window Systems, Bill Giugliano (a brother of Pat, Carl and Frank) is in charge of sales, while Pat’s brother-in-law Bob Buckley is in charge of production.
The family’s staunch work ethic and an environment of personal accountability and family support have proved a great recipe for success. “It’s great working with your family,” said Pat. “You get involved and you realize you have to hustle. That’s the culture here — everybody contributes. Everybody works hard.”
The company structure reflects their emphasis on personal accountability and “all for one, one for all” approach to teamwork. “Everyone has their own accounts, and they are responsible for those accounts,” said Pat. “When a customer calls, that person handles it. We develop great personal relationships with our customers.”
It’s those personal relationships with customers are the key to the firm’s success, according to Pat. “When clients call, they get the same person all the time,” he said. “They know the foreman that runs the job. It’s like several separate smaller companies in one. We’re able to give people personal attention, and when we need more men on a project, we pull them in.”
They strive to keep the same crews on the same buildings. “We don’t have big-time repair crews,” said Pat. “We mostly use the same crews. They know the buildings because they did the roofs. They don’t have to get acclimated. They don’t have to figure out how to get on the roof and who to see.”
Frank, Pat, Mark and Bill generally run their own crews with the help of Mike Olkuski and Mike Donnelly. “For larger projects we’ll combine forces and work together,” said Pat. “That’s when it’s challenging — when we get those large jobs that put you to the test.”
He pointed to a recent 50,000-square-foot Cablevision job as an example. Before installing a fully adhered EPDM membrane, they had to remove and replace 14 inches of tapered insulation. “It was a slow process,” said Pat. “We had to do it in sections. We had 60 men on the roof. It was constant dumpsters — we set it up so we never had to wait to get debris off the roof.”
The company handles a lot of work on the area’s churches, and they count three regional dioceses among their clients. They excel at large commercial jobs, and Pat estimates 90 percent of the jobs require removal. “We’ve had jobs where we had crews removing all night and others installing all day, seven days a week,” said Pat.
A client with multiple huge facilities is Entenmann’s Bakery, and their giant food processing facilities pose tough restrictions when it comes time to do re-roofing work. “We work weekends while the lines are down,” said Mark. “You can’t get a spec of dust in there.”
High-profile projects include a landmark that is no longer on the New York skyline: World Trade Center Tower No. 7. “We did the mechanical room on No. 7 World Trade Center, the third building that went down,” said Pat. “It was only 7,000 square feet, and we did it mostly at night. We thought we were up there pretty high, but then we would look up at the other two buildings and realize they go up another 50 stories.”
He watched the building go down in a laundromat across the street from his business on that terrible day, Sept. 11, 2001. “I think about it often, and I think of that view from Building 7, looking up. The view at night was amazing. We were pretty high up — 50 stories. But those people were up a lot higher. The fireman — the people who went in there and did what they did — they were some heroes.”
Safety is always top of mind at F&F. Besides extensive new employee training and a comprehensive company manual, there are weekly toolbox meetings and ongoing instruction. The company also puts its money where its mouth is, investing in a safety group that provides third-party monitoring and advice.
The company pays a monthly fee to Lovell Safety Management Co., and Pat credits it with helping the company take its safety program to the next level. The most important thing is keeping employees safe and healthy, but it’s also saved the company a great deal of money. It keeps insurance costs down, and safe work performance can entitle members to a rebate on their annual costs.
“We got a rebate this year of $64,000,” said Pat. “Safety goes right to the bottom line. It’s true. When you pay the bills, you see that — and you keep everyone safe.”
The company also credits manufacturer-sponsored training and other contractors with helping the company stay on the cutting edge. “The manufacturers have been a big help, and often they come to our shop for training,” said Pat. “Manufacturers’ inspectors are a great resource. And through conventions like the NRCA and International Roofing Expo, we’ve become friends with people from across the country — non-competing contractors.”
The folks at F&F Roofing are optimistic about the future, and they are coming off a solid 2011. “It turned out to be a very good year, despite being very bad weather-wise,” said Frank. “It was a tough winter — one monster snowstorm after another. We were literally shoveling snow off roofs.”
Part of the reason for the great numbers was a surge in re-roofing jobs. “We have people we’ve been dealing with for years, and sooner or later they have to do it,” said Frank. “We’ve repaired roofs to keep them going, and now they’re ready to be replaced.”
Bill and Mark point out that in a tough market, building owners want to make sure their tenants are satisfied, and that can drive re-roofing work. “Building owners are afraid to lose their tenants,” said Bill. “They have to keep tenants happy.”
Due to the nature of their business, the Giugliano family tries to be prepared for anything. But as they move forward, they can look back on the company’s history for inspiration. “When Frank started the company, it was loosely organized, and he was working around the clock,” said Pat. “The company evolved as it grew. But we always cared. And we always thought about some of the things our father said. My father was like Yogi Berra before Yogi Berra. One of his sayings was, ‘It’s not how you say hello; it’s how you say goodbye.’ We try to live by that.”
Pat explained it this way: Everyone thinks first impressions are vital, but it’s more important what the customer thinks about you after the job is done than before it starts. And that takes quality craftsmanship and integrity.
“We all care about what we do — honestly,” said Pat. “There’s no substitute for hard work. We’re here six days a week and one way or another we’re covered seven days a week. It’s a hands-on business. You have to be here. You have to be on top of it. I think of my dad’s saying a lot. It’s so true. If you get a good sendoff after the job, that’s what you’re looking for. That’s what it’s all about.”