Taking over the reins of an established roofing company with strong name recognition, a long history of success and a satisfied customer base with high expectations is no easy feat. Fostering it for future growth into new markets while trying to become an industry leader is an even bigger achievement.
In just a short time, President Jim Ziminski and his team at Able Roof/Mr. Roof have proven they’re up for the challenge, positioning the Ohio-based roofing company as a model in the ultra-competitive residential roofing market. Their success, determination and a real desire to raise the bar for professionalism industry wide earned Able/Mr. Roof Roofing Contractor’s 2016 Residential Roofing Contractor of the Year title.
The award is given annually to contractors that employ industry best practices, take care of their employees, and excel at quality workmanship and customer satisfaction. Roofing Contractor received more than 150 nominations by or on behalf of contractors from across North America.
“It’s very humbling to be nominated and to win this award, and we do our best to try and uphold the best standards in the roofing industry,” Ziminski said upon receiving the award in September at the conclusion of day one at RC’s 12th annual Best of Success conference in Marco Island, Fla.
The honor capped a memorable stretch for Mr. Roof, which included the opening of its first branch office in the southeast and record sales. The company reported $125 million in revenue for 2015, good for fifth place on RC’s latest Top 100 List.
Making ‘Mr. Roof’
Mr. Roof started in 1962 as a small, family-owned business focused on construction, home additions and renovations. Roofing became the company specialty in 1979 and the successful transition led to the expansion into siding, gutters, masonry, windows, insulation and in some markets, solar panel ventilation.
There are currently six locations spread throughout the Midwest and a seventh branch that opened last year in North Carolina. The company is corporately owned by the Crane Renovation Group, which in addition to roofing has divisions in commercial contracting, distribution of home improvement materials and disaster recovery.
Mr. Roof’s leadership team, marketing department, finance and human resources operations are located at the headquarters in Columbus, where the company is known as Able Roofing due to its strong branding presence built up over the course of the last three decades.
The majority of work completed (75 percent) is in the residential sector, with the rest in light commercial. The focus remains on reroofing, but a large service department that can respond to customers within 24 hours has also made Mr. Roof a household name in several markets.
Regardless of the business segment or volume of production, the approach to solving problems on the rooftop and keeping customers satisfied remains the same, said Ziminski, who joined Crane 16 years ago and took over the roofing divisions in 2014.
Prior to starting with Crane, Ziminski was a national sales manager of siding with CertainTeed, where he gained a unique perspective and affinity for roofs.
“I always saw that roofing was a consistent business and a growth business. We’re providing a basic human need … shelter,” he explained. “That’s what we believe we do, provide shelter over people’s heads so they can have a better quality of life in their home.”
Among the main sources of pride within the company are their warranties and ability to complete the vast majority of residential projects within one day. Both have helped Mr. Roof service more than 50,000 customers and almost a quarter-million homes over nearly six decades.
“We show up in the morning with the goods, produce the roof, and then leave within the same day, like we were never there,” Ziminski said. “We find that customers really like that because they’re busy and don’t like disruption in their lives or materials on their property for long periods of time.”
Communicating a Culture
While Mr. Roof has always had a commitment to quality work and service delivery communicated through aggressive marketing campaigns, Ziminski said he realized quickly after coming aboard just how different the company was — and how it didn’t do a good enough job making that clear in the marketplace.
“Everybody knew us, but they didn’t know about our commitment to quality and the passion we have for servicing the customer,” he said. “Everything is focused on the customer. We obviously do a lot of roofs and that helps us be cost effective and efficient. But our customers know that when we’re on your roof, that’s the only roof we’re concerned about. As a big company, it’s sometimes hard to do that, but we teach our people that it’s how we want to do business.”
Over the past year, the leadership team fine-tuned the business model and brand image to help tell that story succinctly in each of their markets. They updated and redesigned all company websites with consistent messaging; rebranded and upgraded their aging fleet of work vehicles; and developed a team that goes to local trade shows and community events to help build name recognition while providing a local touch to the consumer.
On the quality-care side, they enacted a full-time customer service department staffed from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week — with call hours on Sunday. They also introduced flexible scheduling to allow customer service personnel to work remotely or often from home; and utilized inspectors who were new to each and every job site they reviewed to provide a fresh perspective on how crews follow company standards.
Implementing such changes successfully within an established company that has many longstanding employees can be a challenge. But Mr. Roof cemented the new approach earlier this year at its first-ever company-wide meeting. Roughly 300 employees spent two days at company headquarters participating in meetings, hearing from guest speakers and getting a clearer picture of the company’s future.
“The theme of the meeting was ‘all in,’ and we need you to be 100 percent ‘all in,’” Ziminski said. “The buy-in we’ve had with our people has been remarkable. You have to let your people know what you’re doing and where you’re going as a company.”
Meeting the Challenge
Though each market Mr. Roof serves has unique qualities and economic factors that can make it hard to maintain business success, Ziminski said the biggest challenge his company faces is the consumer’s perception — and often trepidation — of roofing contractors in general. Homeowners can be skeptical, uneducated in how roofing systems function, and straight-up nervous or on-edge about a roof purchase.
“That’s consistent with any market we go to,” he said. “We have to understand that we didn’t create that perception and that it is what it is, but we have to be diligent about putting their minds at ease throughout the process.”
Overcoming that is all about how the process is communicated through the employees, and it starts with the live voice each roofing prospect is guaranteed to hear when they call Mr. Roof.
Despite the in-your-face mentality that some may associate with robust and popular marketing campaigns, the leadership at Mr. Roof implores the sales team to stay away from high-pressure sales tactics and instead educate and sell consultatively to the consumer.
Staying customer-centric is how their business model yields results, and those that embrace it have consistently furthered their careers through Crane’s Value Added Leadership training. Ziminski said Mr. Roof has placed more employees through the intensive six-week course within the last two years than they have in the past 10.
“For me, I learned a lot about myself,” said Marketing Director Kirk Graven, who started with the company in 2014. “It was one of the reasons I joined the company. I learned that the Crane Renovation group wasn’t there to be a big brother or ownership group, but they were here to train and help you grow as a professional. I don’t think there are a lot of roofing companies doing that with their employees.”