Arry Housh came to the roofing industry in 1978 and worked his way up the ranks to become vice president of operations for a roofing company. In 1989 he left to found Arry’s Roofing in Tarpon Springs, Fla., along with his wife, Becky. Eventually they were joined in the business by their sons Matthew and Stephen. Becky, Matthew and Stephen joined Arry on the stage at Best of Success to share the joys and struggles of running a family business and detail the incentive plan they implemented to help the company gain control over its cash flow. Their presentation was titled “How to Successfully Run a Family-Owned Business — And Incentivize Your Employees.”
“Becky and I started Arry’s Roofing Services Inc. from our home,” Arry recalled. Becky and Arry both came to the business as managers from their previous careers, and they clashed early on. “I had to accept that he was the head of the company and the final decision maker,” recalled Becky. Arry’s Roofing soon evolved from a sole proprietorship to a family business. Early on, Arry knew he had an important decision to make for the future of the company. Would they develop a succession plan or exit strategy? “We had the talk early, as the boys were teenagers at the time,” said Becky. “This allowed us the opportunity to plan for this over the next few years.” Arry outlined the benefits of a family-owned business, including the ability to build long-term partnerships with suppliers, vendors and customers. As a family, they could more easily join forces to form a singular company voice — and develop a clear succession plan.
At the same time, a family-owned business poses its own challenges. Motivating everyone to participate and delegating responsibilities can be difficult. Disagreements will undoubtedly arise, so settling disagreements is a must. Arry emphasized the importance of long-term planning, as people might have different visions of what the business might look like in 20 years.
The family detailed how everyone worked together to respond to tough times during the recent recession. After several years of success, the business was hit hard by the economic downturn in 2008. After an audit by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2009, the company switched the compensation for its crews from a piece rate to an hourly rate with incentives.
While some employees left over the change, the overall results have been beneficial. After implementing the new compensation plan:
- Job time was reduced.
- Installers’ income increased.
- Cash flow for the business improved.
- Revenue jumped from $5 million to $8 million, and will increase to $10 million this year.
Now, according to Arry, the crews have taken greater ownership and the company is always on budget. “We have nine crews that perform like nine different companies,” he said.
Employee turnover has also been reduced. “We pride ourselves in retaining our employees,” Arry said. “We have some 20-year employees.”
The company has truly become a family business throughout the years, as Stephen, Matthew and daughter-in-law Heidi have all joined the management team. “Learning to respect them and treat them as adults and valued employees has been critical,” noted Becky. “Mistakes happen, and that’s OK — we all make mistakes and learn from our failures. But they also should be praised for their accomplishments.” She said one key is learning to back off as a parent and let them take control so they can become the next generation of leaders at the company.
“This is a family business built on faith, love, honesty and trust,”Arry said.