It started with a cramped, tiny office space in the suburban outskirts of Chicago and a rusted, beat-up truck. Bob Tronsen and his son-in-law, Steve Panayi, had limited resources for their family-owned and operated roofing contractor business when they started Adams Roofing Professionals in 1978. But they had heart, tireless work ethic, and a commitment to provide customers with quality service at a fair price.
So many roofing contractors around the country start out that way — humbly with good intentions. But there are very few that can say they’re still around and experiencing significant growth in a crowded market nearly 40 years later. Adams is one of them.
“Since that time, my brother (Robert) and I have worked tirelessly to build upon the foundation that was put in place by our grandfather and father,” reflected Company President Stathie Panayi.
Both company founders are retired and no longer heavily involved in the business. Under the latest generation’s stewardship, the non-union company now boasts 50 full-time employees, 30 trucks, and 2,800 square-feet of warehouse space in a new, 5,300 square-foot facility in Elk Grove Village — north of downtown Chicago and adjacent to O’Hare International Airport. It’s close to the company’s roots and a prime location to serve the bustling Chicagoland roofing market.
Adams focuses 100 percent in re-roofing, replacing steep-slope commercial and residential roofs. Its specialty is in multi-family condominium roof replacements and large-volume projects. Over the years, the Panayis added insulation, siding and gutters to their customer offerings, and developed a full-service department. Panayi said offering reliable roof service keeps customers relaxed and confident that any situation can be handled professionally.
That calming ability and the diversified offerings set them apart from many competitors, but Panayi also said he believes having the appropriate recognition from manufacturers matters. Adams has a GAF Master Elite-certification and is a President’s Club Award Winner; is a CertainTeed Select ShingleMaster; and is an Owens Corning Platinum Preferred Contractor.
As proud as he is of those distinctions, Panayi said Adams also stays competitive by selling on value, not price, and by focusing on customers first. He learned that from two generations of dedicated businessmen.
“Adams Roofing is the company it is because of the people we have surrounded ourselves with and the relentless pursuit of a dream that my grandfather and father transformed into reality,” he explained.
Like many in a family business, Panayi started out young and on small projects that helped him learn the less glamorous aspects of the business while also experiencing the value of hard work.
“As a young boy, I started out riding along with my father over the summers. My duties were to clean the ground and bring the bundles of shingles up to the crew,” he described.
“A few months after school was over, I decided to work in the family business. At the time, my father needed help in the production department, and over the years, that really helped me develop a really strong service department, while also teaching me how to be more effective in customer service over the phone.”
Keeping customers happy and coming back is the foundation of Adams’ business model. Panayi said he and his brother concentrate on their existing customer base and truly believe that building up a strong service department that fixes leaks, makes other small repairs, and consistently delivers high-quality solutions to maintenance problems leads to larger roofing projects over time.
Though the company has a robust website (www.adamsroofing.com)and uses social media to diversify its marketing initiatives, old-fashioned approaches still work well. Referrals are a key element to generating leads, and teams leave behind yard signs and canvass surrounding neighborhoods while on a jobsite, according to Panayi.
“At the end of the day, in marketing there is no substitute for hard work,” he said.
Structure, Communication Make a Difference
In addition to a customer-comes-first philosophy, the company’s structure and strong communication practices are key ingredients for continued success.
Panayi said the administration, sales and production departments work closely together, are in constant communication and meet weekly as a standard. That structure trickles into the field as well, where employees serve separate divisions of roof replacement, service and siding/gutters. Three full-time project managers are responsible for projects from start to finish and remain accessible for customers. Field workers also participate in bi-weekly safety meetings where the latest OSHA standards and general safety practices are discussed.
Reviewing sales and proactively-anticipating customer objections are part of weekly sales meetings, where role playing with the customer-service specialists is common. The cohesive approach to doing business helps keep Adams growing and turnover to a minimum, Panayi said. But he admits part of maintaining a great working atmosphere for employees is their strong benefits package. Adams offers full health benefits, a 401k plan, and company bonuses, as a way to demonstrate an unwavering and long-term commitment to the hard-working staff.
“If you have good employees treat them well and with respect to keep them in your organization,” Panayi said when asked about helpful advice for other roofing contractors. “We hire self-motivated employees that we believe will thrive in a team atmosphere. We strongly believe in constant collaboration and utilizing each of our talented team members’ strengths to build a company that we’re all proud of.”