From the outset, Nations Roof was envisioned as a national company structured to take advantage of economies of scale while at the same time fulfilling the unique needs of each market. Headquartered in Lithia Springs, Ga., Nations Roof specializes in commercial work and strives to do most of it in the retrofit market. Founded in 2004, the company services the entire country with 13 wholly owned locations — and is looking to add more. In 2012, the company reached $93 million in sales.
According to Nations Roof CEO Richard Nugent, the company’s goals include delivering consistent quality — on time — for its customers across the country. Everything hinges on top-notch workmanship. “You don’t make any money in the roofing industry or keep your customers without delivering a high-quality product,” he said.
Ensuring quality work and keeping business operations as seamless as possible are the same challenges other roofing contractors face. “The difference is to deliver on a national basis,” Nugent said. “I am not for one minute saying that other companies do not deliver the same things that we do, but on a national basis we are working every day to exceed expectations in safety, quality, communication, service and technology. I think that we have a very strong, talented and professional team at all levels of the company that share the same values and culture.”
Nugent and other members of the Nations Roof team offered their insights on the company, highlighted some recent high-profile projects, and shared their thoughts on the company’s future with Roofing Contractor.
Asked what sets Nations Roof apart from its competitors, Michael Johannes, president of Nations Roof East LLC in Yonkers, N.Y., pointed to the value the company brings to its customers. “The vast array of resources that the company provides in the areas of safety, bonding, insurances, manufacturer relationships and training programs for our employees all help to differentiate Nations Roof from our competitors, and the customers we do business with see that value and buy accordingly,” he said.
Doug Ingle, national account manager for Nations Roof in Grand Prairie, Texas, emphasized the company’s versatility. “We are a nationwide company capable of full-service roofing and sheet metal with the ability to handle the smallest, simplest project to the largest, most demanding project, in house,” he said. “I truly believe this sets us apart from our competition, as they may have components of the package, but we have them all.”
Larry Morgan, president of Nations Roof Sales and Marketing in Richmond, Va., cited the company’s diverse array of offerings as a key asset. “We don’t have one or two manufactured systems,” he said. “We can provide any manufactured system and have the top contractor designations at each manufacturer, so we can address any roof installation issues with the right product to provide the customer with a long-term roofing solution.”
Morgan also emphasized the company’s consistency, noting, “We can honestly say we have one company, one message and one way of providing the final installation — and deliver that solution consistently across our entire company for operations, sales and service.”
Richard Langheim, vice president of Nations Roof South in Lithia Springs, Ga., pointed to the vast experience of the team itself as the most crucial component. “As a member of the Nations Roof team, we have the unique opportunity to work with and be mentored by the best of the best of the roofing industry every day,” he said. “We have incredible experience, incredible credentials, and incredible talent that every day challenges each of us to collectively push ourselves to be measurably better than the last event. We are building a culture of excellence that is effectively expressed in our day-to-day operations.”
Nugent believes the key to the company’s success is its “culture of safety, excellence and opportunity for each employee.” “Our only asset is our people at every level of the organization,” he said.
Communication Is Key
Running a company of that size has its own advantages and disadvantages, noted Nugent. “I believe that running a national company is very different than a local one,” he said. “We employ different skills every day that are closer to what you would see in other national companies in unrelated industries. We rely on our local leadership when it comes to operations. I don’t think that any of that is an advantage. We may have a market advantage but not a management advantage. We are able to leverage some of our purchasing, especially in insurance and employee benefits. The disadvantage is that it takes me a day to get to California, so I spend too much time on planes and in hotels, and we have a second layer of management that other local companies don’t.”
According to Nugent, the various business units interact through conference calls and meetings geared to share best practices in areas such as operations and safety. “We have a COO and a VP of Operations that oversee the business units,” he said. “In addition, our accounting staff works very closely with each business unit.”
In a business with many important goals, safety is the top concern, according to Nugent. “We honestly have invested millions in this effort and have a very aggressive safety program that promotes zero tolerance of safety violations,” he said. “It’s a challenge every day, but the culture of safety is the number one priority to us and our customers. I’m very proud of our program and the success we have enjoyed.”
Keeping lines of communication open is important for all employees and their customers, noted Nugent. “Communication is number one,” he said. “We all make mistakes, but how you communicate and respond to those mistakes or mishaps is what makes the difference. We also have representatives assigned to accounts or customers so we can be reached 24/7, and so can I.”
A Diverse Project Portfolio
High-profile projects completed by the company include the Marriott Marquis in Times Square; River Legacy Living Science Center in Arlington, Texas; Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Cincinnati; Via Verde/The Green Way in the Bronx, N.Y.; Glad Manufacturing’s facility in Amherst, Va.; Nestle Distribution Co. in Breinigsville, Pa.; IBM World Headquarters in New York; UNICOR in Washington, D.C.; the Met Life Building in New York; Monroe Hospital in Monroe, Wis.; and the wall panels at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
Nations Roof team members pointed to a few other challenging projects that showcased the company’s strengths. “I believe the Simon Penn Square Mall project in Oklahoma City with four crews doing three different systems for several months demonstrates our abilities well,” said Ingle. New roof systems applied after a hailstorm damaged the building included a multi-layer, gravel-surfaced asphaltic system from Johns Manville. “The Baptist Hospital White Rock Lake in Dallas was difficult in every way and was completed without a single leak or disruption to hospital business.”
With its multiple roof levels and windy conditions, the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio posed several difficult challenges. Nations Roof installed 118,000 square feet of ballasted 60-mil EPDM from Firestone to the company’s tapered insulation and high-density cover board. The hotel’s rapidly changing schedule necessitated daily meetings and unexpected changes, but the project proceeded without a hitch. “The Marriott Rivercenter with its 50-plus roof areas, no access and constant interruptions to production — completed without incident — is a beacon of our ability,” Ingle said.
Langheim singled out the Orlando World Marriott Center and Resort re-roofing project, which consisted of 44 different roof sections totaling 110,000 square feet, as well as metal panels and 10,000 lineal feet of perimeter flashing and counter flashing. “The facility is a world-class resort with 2,000 rooms and suites, and the occupancy rate exceeded 90 percent on a daily basis for the duration of the project,” he noted. “Daily operations included the use of a crane truck, two buck hoists and a 53-foot portable sheet metal shop on site. The entire project was completed over the course of four months (during the tropical storm season) without disruption to the activities of the client and within the required production schedule.”
Projects that came to mind for Johannes in New York included the British Airways/Terminal 7 at JFK Airport, a 350,000-square–foot tear-off and recover project. “The system was installed throughout the winter due to all the leaks that the building was experiencing,” he recalled. “No margin for error with the aircraft right below you during construction.”
The roof area for the SL Green Realty facility in Manhattan totaled 50,000 square feet on 11 levels. “The tear-off and re-roof process was conducted nightly from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.,” said Johannes. “We did all of our work through occupied office space including removal and loading. When we left at 2 a.m., the office space had to be ready for the morning rush. The building achieved LEED Silver status utilizing sedum carpets and energy-efficient white cap sheets from Siplast, and was the first one in the NYC market. The roofing contributed to that final calculation for LEED points.”
Via Verde/The Green Way in the Bronx features an intensive garden roof assembly from American Hydrotech coupled with a sophisticated irrigation system, as well as solar panels. According to Nugent and Johannes, the LEED Gold project is just a hint of what’s to come in the future for a company geared to provide sustainable solutions for its customers. “Vegetated roofs are in full swing as more owners see the value of using the roof as much needed outdoor recreation/safe space in the city,” said Johannes. “We have done 23 projects in the past three years which consist of all sizes and levels of complexity. These projects add overall value to the building and make it easier for the owners to lease and sell units vs. those that do not offer the amenity.”
Nugent expects the market for environmentally friendly products and systems will continue to grow. “I think that green roofing has a great future in the industry because system prices have come down and the use of green roofs enhance property, work environment as well as local conditions,” he said.
“Sustainability is the future,” agreed Langheim, who noted that his company is poised to capitalize on the trend. “Nations Roof is committed to sustainability and in fact Nations Solar is singularly focused on ground and roof mount solar. Nations Roof has several Accredited Green Roof Professionals and LEED professionals on staff to support the sustainability programs.”
It’s just one component of the company’s overall strategy. “People, Processes, Technology and Training — everything we do is linked to the 2P’s and 2T’s,” Langheim said. “We invest in our people. We invest in technology and training to ensure our people have the most current processes. That allows us to set measurable expectations, be accountable on a timely basis and document performance. Our people, in every role, are what make us successful.”