Since its inception in 2000, Dexter Builders, Inc. has been driven by its employees’ passion and talent for helping local customers improve the quality of their homes. Located in Dexter, Mich., the company specializes in complete residential remodeling and prides itself on its versatility. In 2008, the three partners, Jeff Brown, Vince Peters and Tony Push, expanded to add Dexter Roof and Siding — a DBA that focuses solely on roofing, siding and windows. Despite hard economic times, the company has managed to grow every year and establish a strong presence in the greater Ann Arbor community. But the people of Dexter Builders were put to the ultimate test on March 15, 2012: the day a tornado blew through their hometown, hit two major subdivisions and damaged more than 400 homes.

“The dust is just now settling from the tornado,” Brown said on the one-year anniversary of the event. “Dexter Builders and Dexter Roof were totally unprepared for the opportunity that was laid in our lap. We had never dealt with anything on such a large scale.”

According to Brown, the tornado twisted through the Carriage Hills and Huron Farms subdivisions in Dexter, and wind and hail from the storm impacted many surrounding areas. No one was injured, but many homes were completely destroyed.

Dexter Builders was accustomed to handling five to six calls per week for roofing, but they received 50 to 60 calls overnight and another 10 to 20 every day for the next several weeks. “To add, these calls weren’t the, ‘I’m thinking about replacing my roof. Can you come take a look and give me a proposal?’ The calls were, ‘Half my roof is gone. I’m freaking out, and I need your help now!’” Brown said.

The team was up for the challenge, and the first tasks were to return phone calls and get tarps on open roofs. Dan Schmidt, who was hired in 2011 to sell and manage roofing projects, quickly coordinated crews and got to work. “What were we to do? We were just the local builder/remodeler with a hard-earned reputation for quality work and doing the right thing,” Brown said.

Push took charge of the tornado projects, While Brown and Peters kept the rest of the business moving forward. Push quickly downloaded the computer estimating program used by all the insurance adjustors and was soon speaking their language. He also formed an alliance with Chuck Broadus, owner of Broadco Property Restoration in Clinton Township, Mich., who handled emergency remediation and dried out storm-ravaged homes. “I don’t know how we could have done it without Broadco,” Push said.

Dexter Builders brought on extra staff, and thanks to an open line of credit provided by the local bank and help from material distributor Allied Building Products, the company was able to ramp up quickly. They restored about 20 roofs in the first two weeks and continued working on damaged homes throughout the next 10 months. “As spring turned to summer and summer to fall, we completed nearly 120 roof replacement projects, 25 siding replacement projects, installed more than 400 windows, and did eight to 10 large-scale repairs/rebuilds of houses severely damaged by the tornado,” Brown said.

Ultimately, its reputation for quality work, honest communication and customer satisfaction helped this local company succeed. “This is our town, and we needed to help as many people as we could,” Brown said. “We never knocked on one door to ask for work. It was all we could do to respond to the calls that kept rolling in.”

Brown and Push agreed that helping the tornado victims is something they will never forget, and for many in the community, the feeling seems to be mutual. “We pulled the local Rotary Club float in the Memorial Day parade, and as the Dexter Builders truck went by everybody was clapping like we had just won the World Series,” Brown said.