West Side Story: Contractor, Distributor and Manufacturer Team Up to Give Back to the Community
When Paul Hauss of Olmsted Township, Ohio, noticed that his neighbor Janet Gersteen was in desperate need of a new roof that she could not possibly afford, he took it upon himself to make sure that she got one. Hauss sent emails explaining his neighbor’s situation to the corporate office of building materials distributor Allied Building Products, and the company quickly responded to help the struggling homeowner.
“Allied is always looking to give back when possible to the communities that they service,” said Mike Handschumacher, service center manager for Allied’s Akron, Ohio, branch. Once Allied was on board with the project, National Sales Manager John Mike passed the job along to Handschumacher, who was put in charge of finding a reputable local roofing contractor to provide the labor completely free of charge. He decided to approach West Side Roofing of Brook Park, Ohio, with the unique job — a choice he said he made because the company is “a loyal contractor that is GAF certified and cares about giving back to the community when possible.”
Established in 1931, West Side Roofing is a family-owned-and-operated residential and commercial contractor that specializes in re-roofing. Additional services include new construction, repairs, maintenance, siding and gutter systems. “It’s been around for 83 years, so we’re definitely one of the oldest roofing contractors in the Northeast Ohio/Cleveland area,” explained Jesse Spacek, a project manager and salesman at West Side Roofing. The company has been in the family ever since his grandfather, Bud Spacek, took over in the 1950s and passed it on to brothers Jamie and Chris Spacek in the late 80s.
West Side has a great longstanding relationship with Allied, and the company was eager to jump on board the project. “It all came around pretty quickly,” Spacek said. “Mike at Allied had first mentioned it to me, and I immediately talked to Jamie and Chris about it. We pretty much said yes right away because we thought it would be a good opportunity. To be honest, it just worked out and felt right.”
West Side has done other community service projects in the past, including donating materials for repair work on a new local church and for protective roofs on neighborhood gardens. Re-roofing Gersteen’s home in Olmsted Township, Ohio, was the largest of the company’s recent volunteer jobs. “Whenever something comes by, we’re not afraid to jump right in,” Spacek explained.
Hauss notified the homeowner that she would be getting a free roof, and West Side coordinated a six-man crew, donated all labor and completed the entire roof installation in just one day. “I pretty much worked in conjunction with Mike at Allied and then Paul — we called him the Good Samaritan. He was the wheels behind it,” Spacek said. “I was setting up deliveries, making sure everything was okay and the homeowner felt comfortable. I oversaw the installation when they were actually doing the roof.”
West Side tore off the old roof and replaced it with GAF Timberline HD Shingles. “The old roof was horrible — it was literally falling apart,” Spacek explained. “It was a combined group effort. All labor was donated by us. All materials were donated by Allied and GAF. We’re a Master Elite Contractor, and we just received the Presidents Club Award this past year. GAF has been a huge partner with us in recent years, so we felt very comfortable dealing with them.”
Spacek noted that every aspect of the project progressed seamlessly. “The delivery and everything went smoothly — no bumps or bruises along the way. Everything went really well,” he said. “The weather held out. We ended up doing it in the middle of January. No snow on the ground — it just happened to get up in the 40s enough to be able to do the roof. It was pretty much like a late Christmas present for her.”
According to both Handschumacher and Spacek, Gersteen was completely satisfied with her new roof and very thankful. “She was financially struggling. To put a new roof on just was not in her budget,” Spacek said. “She was a super nice lady and very appreciative. We left with a handshake at the end and a quick hug, and that was it. It was completely free of charge.”
“You could tell Paul was really watching out for her,” he added. “It was a good day.”
The companies involved were also happy with the result, and John Mike of Allied noted the importance of everyone in the industry pulling together to give back. “It simply felt right,” he said. “Just because we’re a big company doesn’t mean we don’t have a big heart. We’ve done these before, and I’m sure we’ll do them again as the situation arises. We’re supported by communities, and when we can help them, if only a little, it’s our duty to do so.”
As a company that’s been in business for many years, West Side also acknowledged the significance of helping the communities it serves. “They’ve been supporting us for years and years, so to be able to give back when we can is hard to pass up,” Spacek said. “We have our mission statement. It states that our goal is to serve the community with integrity, character, and a purpose that brings glory and honor to God. We’re always trying to do that, and this was the perfect opportunity to live up to what we have said.”