Phil Leger, owner of Highland Contractors of Western New York Inc., might never have entered the roofing industry if the restaurant he opened had been successful. His restaurant soon closed, but the experience served him well in his second career. “I was very encouraged by what I had learned from the restaurant business and I had great confidence I could run another business,” he said. “Learning from past failures and successes not only in business but in personal life has helped us get to where we are right now.”
Leger worked in sales and project management for seven years prior to starting Highland Contractors. “I was able to gain some insight on many levels — sales and production,” he said. “I leave the administrative part to my office manager, Jeff Neamon.”
The company has been in business for five years and handles residential roofing as well as windows, siding and painting. “We do a variety of work,” he said. “Sometimes it can be overwhelming from a quoting and production perspective, but we do it mainly because we feel that being such a new company we want be diversified enough to keep the business coming in. It was very difficult at first, because roofers were also painters and painters were carpenters; now we’re a roofing crew, a painting crew, a siding crew and a carpentry crew, which allows each team member to become very good at that particular trade.”
Recent projects the company has been involved in include a Lead Safe 350 replacement window project last year for Monroe County. They are currently working on a full cedar shake tear-off and replacement on a 55-square Dutch style barn roof.
“This Dutch barn project shows how adaptable my guys are,” said Leger. “Not only are they resilient, they are resourceful and courageous. Although we wear harnesses on all roofs, this particular roof requires a bit more fortitude to climb onto.”
While working on the job or hanging out at home, Leger and his furry companion Max have been known to be seen everywhere with one another. Max is a rescue dog from Lollipop Farms in Rochester, N.Y. “He is very co-dependent and must go everywhere I go. The guys know enough to hide their lunches from Max because he’s been known to eat whole lunches and go back for more. He’s a very friendly dog and gets along with everyone, especially those with any sort of treat in their possession,” said Leger.
When it comes to creating a good working atmosphere for employees, Leger believes in empowering and not micro-managing. “We try to maintain a stress-free environment that allows people the luxury of liking where they work. We also try and do some fun stuff throughout the busy season. For instance, we are all going to Honeoye Lake in the summer to do some fishing. In August, we will be taking a couple of days to go to the Allied Building Products fishing derby. I love the adage, ‘Make your vocation your vacation!’ It’s not always like that, but we try and have fun.”
Leger believes in prompt service no matter what the job may be. “Quite simply, we return phone calls to the customer, regardless if it’s for a big sales call or a small roof repair. Most importantly, we call the customer when we get a call about a job we completed for them and for some reason there is an issue — it could be a workmanship error or not — but we respond almost immediately. We value what our customer thinks about us. Also, we rarely take any money down; we feel that conveys a sense of trust and leverage for the customer, but we do make sure we have a signed contract in place.”
There is no secret recipe to success, noted Leger. The key is executing the fundamentals. “We are successful because we show up. We work hard. We have fun. We take the quality of our work personally. Our mission statement is to provide customer satisfaction above and beyond the customer’s expectations by installing a quality product in a professional, efficient and courteous manner.”