Young Guns: Next-Generation Leaders Are Driving Force Behind Thriving Companies
Roofing Contractor has made it part of its mission to showcase the next generation of roofing professionals — contractors in their 20s and 30s we’ve dubbed the Young Guns. The contractors who shared their stories for this article come from very different backgrounds, but they have at least a couple of things in common: they are making their mark in the companies they work for and making a name for themselves in the roofing industry.
Josey Parks: The Metal Man — and More
Josey Parks came to the roofing profession right out of high school. Seven years later, at the age of 25, he now owns and operates the largest residential metal roofing company in Texas.
Parks is one of six children, with four brothers and a sister. His father died tragically on the job as a contractor when Parks was only two, and his passing created obvious challenges for their family. “We were poor, but God provided for us,” Parks said. “I watched my mom work her way up from a teller to the vice president of a bank. She is my hero and an amazing woman who always kept our family’s focus on doing the right thing.”
As president and CEO of Metal Roofs of Texas, Parks has a staff of 45 with statewide operations. He represents Interlock as a dealer and distributor for Oklahoma and Texas, holding exclusives on five product lines available in steel, aluminum and copper. Parks was honored as the No. 1 Dealer in the United States in 2012.
Parks attributes his success to “hiring the right people and surrounding myself with the best people to get the job done.” Starting at the top, his general manager has 30 years of construction experience and built one of the largest casinos in the country. Parks’ chief operating officer is a former Naval Intelligence Officer with an MBA. Over the past two years, the company worked with a business coach to help create more structure, growth and accountability.
Metal Roofs of Texas is a family business at heart. “My wife’s brothers have both worked with me for three years installing metal roofs,” Parks said. “They take great pride in the quality we offer as a company.” Parks’ mother, Shanda, serves as the company’s customer relations manager, and his stepfather, Lance, who once coached the Parks children in youth sports, is lead project manager. “He taught me to be self-disciplined and focused,” Parks noted.
An exciting new development for Parks is the recent merger of his brother Hunter’s roofing business with Metal Roofs of Texas. “I feel this is an alliance that will greatly expand our business, and it’s great to work with my brother again,” he said. While Metal Roofs of Texas has primarily focused on high-end metal roofing products, the merger has brought new business in the composition shingle roofing market, as well as membrane roofing on the commercial side.
Beyond success in business, Parks believes in giving back to his community. He serves as director of development for Heartwork (www.heartwork.tv), a national nonprofit organization with a focus on engaging high school and college students with orphan care and poverty issues. “I recently went to Haiti, where we visited an orphanage that Heartwork students funded, and it was life changing,” he said. “We spent time helping them develop partnerships, and work on strategies for a recycling center that generates revenue for the orphanage and cleans up the streets. Each day is a new opportunity to make a difference.”
According to Parks, the people of Metal Roofs of Texas strive to excel by being involved with industry shows, events, certification classes and anything that betters their understanding of the roofing business. “I’ve learned that if you want your company or brand to last, your quality and customer service must be top notch,” Parks said.
Leo Ruberto: Diversifying and Expanding to Meet Customers’ Needs
Leo Ruberto is the president of Feazel Company. With offices in Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, the company specializes in commercial and residential re-roofing, and under Ruberto’s leadership has expanded to offer services covering the entire building envelope. “Feazel provides quality exterior solutions for both residential and commercial clients,” said Ruberto. “We offer roofing repair, replacement, inspection and maintenance for flat roofs and shingled buildings. Complementarily we provide chimney services, skylight replacements, and insulation and ventilation solutions. Windows, gutters, siding, copper, slate and wood shake shingles are also in our portfolio.”
Ruberto, 32, credits his friends for introducing him to the roofing business. “Friends of mine who were enjoying their own careers in roofing brought me into the industry and helped me gain tremendous insights into what it takes to be a success in this trade,” he said. “That defining sort of moment was almost 10 years ago, when I finished my service in the U.S. Military. I gained an enormous amount of knowledge and experience working with my friends on a range of commercial and residential projects in places such as Florida, Washington, D.C., and Ohio. The more I worked in the field, the greater my interest grew in wanting to settle down and own my own roofing company.”
His plan became a reality when he purchased Feazel in January of 2013 from brothers Mike and Todd Feazel, who launched the business in 1988. Mike and Todd Feazel still play an advisory role with the company but are not currently involved with day-to-day activities. “All of us who are part of Feazel were proud to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary last year,” he said. “The company has a rich history and a stellar reputation. We are a company that has a family feel and is built on Midwest values.”
Ruberto plans on building on the company’s reputation, offering new services and expanding to new locations. Ruberto has also embraced new technology. “I’m passionate about providing Feazel customers with quality services that not only satisfy their home or business needs, but also make the entire process of remodeling and maintenance simple and enjoyable,” he said. “This year we launched proprietary software for our commercial clients called ServicePoint™, which serves as a property manager portal. This secure portal enables property managers to access everything they need — such as service requests, real-time project status updates, resident communication, paperwork and billing information — all on one localized platform. I wanted to provide customers with a value-added service that saves them time and empowers them to do more.”
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of green products and systems, and Feazel is poised to meet their demands. “We’ve not only switched to using environmentally friendly and American-made products, but we’ve instituted a robust shingle recycling program,” he said. “Feazel donates all used shingles to be converted into asphalt. For each house or building project, we keep an average of 3.5 tons of roofing material out of local landfills, which then helps to pave roughly 50 feet of new road.”
Ruberto is proud to be part of company that can make a difference in the lives of others. “The nature of our work helps people with creature comforts and their housing needs,” he said. “Doing the job to the highest standards of quality and treating people right has contributed to our business gains. But I believe we as a company have an even greater responsibility to give back to the communities where we work and live. It’s important to me that we’re involved with local youth programs that support education and development, and we are committed to lending a hand to the military veterans who have made sacrifices on behalf of us all.”
Asked what the future holds, Ruberto replied, “I plan to continue growing Feazel and providing more customers with quality services. We just recently expanded into Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and our efforts are focused on nurturing those markets. In the next two years we intend to bring our offerings into the Cleveland and Akron communities as well.”
Melissa Hayden: Building on a Family Legacy
As a child, Melissa Hayden fondly recalls family road trips. “As we traveled somewhere, I’d wake up to my father pulling the car over, saying, ‘Oh, hold on a minute. I have to go check out this roof!’” Her father, Hayden Building Maintenance Corp. President Greg Hayden, started the business in 1973 as a residential roofing and restoration company. In the early 1980s, the company shifted its focus to low-slope roofing and masonry restoration. “Today, we are one of the largest roofing contractors in the metropolitan New York area,” Melissa said.
Hayden Building Maintenance specializes in the historic restoration of buildings, churches and colleges with shingle and slate roofs. “We really focus on the building envelope and can do anything on the outside of a building,” Melissa noted. Their business reaches from the Hudson Valley to Westchester and metropolitan New York City, and also includes projects in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. After Hurricane Katrina, Hayden opened an office in New Orleans to serve one of their largest customers, and that office has now grown to service the entire Gulf Coast region.
After graduation from college, Melissa worked in marketing, payroll, accounting, service, human resources and then project management. She is now the vice president. “As a result, I have been involved intimately with all aspects of the company,” she said. “Since I’m self-taught, I’ve learned the importance of accountability. I’m here to protect and maintain what my dad has built, and am grateful that he opened the door to allow me this opportunity. As a result, I know how he thinks and what he wants.”
Now 35, Hayden has been with the company since 2001, after graduating with a degree in counseling. Greg’s brother, Rob, is Hayden’s vice president and senior estimator, and their original secretary of 30-plus years is now their collection manager. “Also a social worker by training, my mom has been a big part of our business, too,” Melissa said.
Her younger sister, Lindsay, is not involved in Hayden. She followed another path and is working as a fashion designer for a private label in Manhattan.
The company is a member of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), Construction Specifications Institute, North/East Roofing Contractors Association (NERCA) and New York State Roofing Contractors Association. It is also a member of National Roofing Partners (NRP), and Greg Hayden is an NRP board member. The Haydens attend the International Roofing Expo (IRE) and NERCA tradeshows, and they are also involved in the National Roofing Legal Resource Center, which offers an annual conference for issues related to codes, safety, standards and legal issues. “It’s an excellent organization that I think everyone in roofing should be part of,” commented Melissa. Hayden Corp. is also a good corporate citizen, donating roofs to the Dominican Convent, Habitat for Humanity, Temple Beth Haverim and Ramapo Ambulance Corp., among others. Additionally, Greg chairs an annual golf outing for the Tagaste Monastery, which is always well attended by others associated with the roofing industry.
Melissa now helps her father run the project management side of the company, and she has embraced the challenge. “It seems like I work all the time, but I love it,” she said. “There’s a constant challenge, and every day I try to do something a little better than I did the day before.”
Ricky and Krystal Hanks: The Husband-and-Wife Team
Rich Hanks started T-Town Roofing in Tulsa, Okla., in 1983. His son Ricky remembers accompanying his dad to work when he was five years old. At 19, Ricky was suddenly faced with running the company. “My dad broke his back, so he was out of commission for 18 months,” recalled Ricky, now the president of T-Town. “He is my biggest mentor and taught me everything I know, and that’s worth a lot.”
Ricky and wife Krystal’s story is remarkable. They have been together since they were 17. “When we met, there was no common practice in the company,” Krystal recalled. Now the CFO overseeing day-to-day operations, she developed all of the company’s systems, and the business is now completely paperless. “In our first year running the company, we did $3.2 million in business,” she said. “I was 24 years old and didn’t even know what I was doing!”
T-Town Roofing is a family operation, with father Rich running the Oklahoma City part of the business. Ricky’s older brother, Mark, is a sales rep/estimator, and Krystal’s father, Dave, is the production manager; both have been working with T-Town for five years. With 15 full-time employees, their current projects have a 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial split. “We also handle roll-formed custom metal roofing and work with metal that’s made to look like tile,” noted Ricky. “Our goal is to grow the commercial side. Last year, we only did 10 percent, so we are headed in right direction.”
“We’ve put more focus on sales and marketing the past two years,” noted Ricky. “A recent research study ranked us second in recognition to another 30-year-old Tulsa roofing company, and 95 percent of the 252 people surveyed recognized our logo, so we are happy about that.”
As parents of five children ranging from 14 to nine months, the Hanks are assisted by a full-time nanny who handles all the shopping and driving to and from school. “Our lives are hectic, so we make a point to spend quality time and do things we all like to do together,” Ricky commented.
When asked if their children will follow them in the business, Ricky proudly said, “Our oldest daughter, Jewel, helps file papers and shreds documents in the office. Our oldest son, Dillon, is often on the roof and has worked with the sales team. The bottom line is we want to help our kids find what they are great at — whether it happens to be running the business, going to college or both.”
“It’s taken hard work to get to where we are today, so we want them to realize and appreciate that,” added Krystal,
The Hanks’ also are active members of their community. They are co-founders of the Young Businessmen of Tulsa (YBT) group. “Several influential men in Tulsa started this organization,” said Ricky. “We just raised $27,000 for one of our members who has cancer. YBT has really given our business a boost.” The group is currently a men-only organization, but plans include starting a women’s chapter.
Ricky and Krystal know they can rely on each other. “People ask how we do this. The answer is, we are best friends,” said Ricky.
“We wear the appropriate hat for our different roles, and it actually works out really well,” added Krystal. “While we had a great start with my father-in-law, we did a lot on our own. We’ve learned things the hard way, but it’s been a great journey.”