An Idea Takes Flight
Roofing Contractor Uses His Plane to Boost His Business
In 1978, Scott Tankersley was a fledgling member of the roofing industry at the age of 22. Today Tankersley, general manager of Anchor Roofing Systems, Ltd., headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, currently has his roofing license in nine states, along with his pilot’s license. He frequently uses his plane as a tool to help his company get jobs done more quickly and efficiently.
“After flying steady for the past 13 years and accumulating nearly 3,000 flight hours in all types of weather, I have become to depend upon this mode of transportation for staying in touch with my customers,” said Tankersley. “Flying in for lunch and personally delivering a timely proposal can give me an advantage in this changing economy. My customers have grown to expect a quick turnaround from me on their surveys.”
Flying comes in handy in other ways, too. “Another benefit to our company has been the delivery of parts to smaller locations where hard-to-get roof parts such as roof drains or a box of special length fasteners are needed to keep the crews going.”
From Roofer to Pilot
Tankersley was first exposed to flying as a child. His father’s friend built a small kit plane that he kept in his garage. After several months of watching his dad fly with his friend and pleading for his turn, Tankersley finally talked his father into letting him “go up.” Finally the big day came and his dad’s friend buckled him in for his first flight.
“We rolled along the grass until sufficient airspeed was achieved, and then the magic happened,” Tankersley recalled. “We were airborne, slowly climbing above the surrounding trees, power poles and houses. I don’t quite remember how long we were in the air, but it made a lasting impression on me, one that I will never forget. I had the flying bug!”
Years later the urge to fly hit Tankersley again. It was especially acute while he was visiting one of his customer’s out-of-state facilities surrounding their Fort Worth location.
“Sometimes I would spend four or five days on the road driving to locations within 600 miles of our office,” he said. “When I returned with my survey information, it would take an additional four or five days to type out my proposals to the owners.”
His average overall time to survey three or four facilities and return a proposal to the customer was about eight days to two weeks. After doing this with the same customers for two years, Tankersley decided he needed to find a better way to speed up the process.
One Sunday Tankersley struck up a conversation with Ron Smith, an acquaintance he met at church. He learned Smith had been flying planes for more than 20 years at the time. The two spoke many times about flying, and soon Tankersley talked himself into another airplane ride.
“This first flight led to my hiring Ron to fly me around to different states to look at roofs for my old customers and new clients,” Tankersley said. “This worked well for the first four months, him doing the flying and me doing the roofing. Then little by little I started to comprehend the total concept of flying as a tool — much as any other tool our company owned — that would benefit sales and save labor, gas and overnight stays on the road.”
In 1992, Tankersley first soloed and earned his private pilot license and after renting several planes for five years he purchased his first plane, a 1971 Beach Craft Bonanza. He currently owns a 2000 Piper Mirage making his trips to the Midwest more efficient due to the added capabilities of ice protection and the ability to fly above most weather.
Anchor Roofing focuses on commercial re-roofing and new construction. Most of their work is BUR and modified related with a fair amount of single-ply and metal roofing.
The company has completed several recent impressive projects including the Winspear Opera House located in downtown Dallas. The new 2,200-seat, $352 million privately funded project was constructed in the newly declared Arts District. Tankersley explains that it was a very difficult site to access; there were three other arts projects and a major school renovation close by.
“Each intersection of our roofing system, all roofing details had to be supported by shop drawings and field mockups before final installation could begin. This required intense project management that ultimately involved our entire management staff at one time or another before all roofing was completed,” said Tankersley.
Other projects include the Tarrant County Community College’s downtown campus and The Tower Condominiums that were converted from an existing 35-story office tower/bank building. The $7 million contract for the United States Postal Service Distribution Center in Coppell, Texas, included replacing 680,000 square feet of low-slope roofing and required replacement of $1 million worth of thermal resistant windows and replacement of all elastic joints at walls and window openings.
Anchor Roofing also did some additions to the University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. They completed a five-story medical office building, an 11-story tower and a three-story children’s wing.
Flying as a Tool
Tankersley has a passion for flying, and he believes his pilot’s license has helped him as a roofer by keeping him in touch personally with some of his customers that are several hundred miles away.
“In the past I have received a call from a customer located in another state in the morning and be able to have a face-to-face meeting with that same customer before the end of the same day,” said Tankersley.
He adds that flights can also help during the construction phase and the weekly site visits that he likes to make to take photographs to document the building processes. He passes these reports on to his customers quickly because he can visit most sites in the morning and return that same day to finish up work at his office in the afternoon.
“Flying a private aircraft simplifies moving tools and personnel across long distances with the least amount of time and hassles which ultimately saves time and quickens the construction process for the customer.”
“I’d say that without the aid of private aircraft I would have limited myself and our roofing operations to no more than a 500-mile radius a long time ago, but now that I have 20-plus years of flying experience behind me I can see maintaining a customer/client base within a 1,000 mile radius.”
“We do not seek merely to expand our business volume. Rather, we are dedicated to the use of our unique, innovative skills to satisfy our customers’ needs.”