Gregg Wallick could have pulled from either his 35 years of experience as a roofing contractor or his gridiron glory days as captain of the University of Miami Hurricanes to close out the 2015 Best of Success seminar in Phoenix.
Instead, the president and CEO of Best Roofing in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., drew on both experiences to relay his message that roofing is a team sport. And Wallick illustrated it by describing his first big break.
Shortly after graduating with an MBA, Wallick took over operations at a roofing company that had just closed in the Orlando area. He had three employees and one consistent client when he was approached by the manager of an apartment complex looking to re-roof multiple buildings before converting them to condominiums. Wallick said he got the job as a low bidder and was ecstatic … until he realized the project had to be done in six weeks.
“I walked out the door terrified,” he recalled. “I didn’t even have a ladder.”
Looking for advice, he reached out to his old high school football coach, who was managing spring practice at the time. He ended up talking to the team and hired several players to work on the weekend for double minimum wage at the time. The coach, who taught driver’s education, also let them use a bus to get them all to the jobsite.
“We had the offense on one side tearing off shingles and the defense on the other side … and we got the job done in six weeks, just as promised,” he explained. “That gave me enough working capital to get other jobs and showed me this is a killer industry.”
The next step was learning how to get over the next set of challenges. He described specific growth hurdles that his and many other roofing companies experienced the longer they stay in business.
- Achieving $1 million in revenue with at least 10 full-time employees.
- Generating $10 million in revenue with roughly 75 employees.
- Reaching $30 million in revenue with a staff exceeding 75 employees.
“We are in a tough business. As your business grows, the more people you’ve got and it just gets more complicated,” he said.
Finding success requires strong leadership at the top and commitment from everyone else to get involved. That includes delegating results, being aware of risks and expecting mistakes because they will happen, Wallick said.
“Wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from making mistakes. That’s part of the process,” he said.
For contractors looking to increase sales, Wallick emphasized the need for strong discipline in the sales and estimating process. Understanding the source of bids or referrals, knowing the selling cycle and measuring the closing ratio of salespeople are key. He said roofers should also always be networking, never stop quoting for potential work and be relentless with follow up.
Wallick recommended each company should take the time to develop a mission statement, as well as clear organizational charts for employees, teaching them about what he calls the ‘vicious cycle.’
“When you feel like you have no time, you cut corners,” he explained. “And when you cut corners you make mistakes. When you make mistakes, you have to fix the mistakes and then you’re back to the beginning when you have no time.
Do this with your crews, do this with your management team because it’s a great (tactic) with a lot of applications.”