Young Guns Michael and Kevin Kornahrens: Roofing Contractors Advanced Beyond Their Years
Michael and Kevin Kornahrens grew up around roofing and had a first-hand look at how their father grew Advanced Roofing into one of the leading commercial contractors not just in south Florida but across the country.
And now, as executive vice presidents, neither are fazed about their opportunity to continue to build and enhance the company for another generation — or longer.
Advanced Roofing is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale and has offices in Miami, Jupiter, Fort Myers, Sanford, St. Augustine, and now Tampa Bay — following the acquisition of Roth Bros. of Florida in the summer of 2015. Company revenues in 2016 exceeded $76 million, good for 13th place on Roofing Contractor’s Top 100 list.
The company serves only commercial markets and focuses on reroofing, waterproofing, repairs and maintenance. Punctuating more than three decades of success under owner and founder Rob Kornahrens, in recent years, Advanced has become a model for diversification in the industry by adding award-winning solar and air conditioning divisions.
The Kornahrens twins, now 33, are old enough to remember much humbler beginnings, and despite their youth, they’re still determined and hungry enough to propel the family business even further.
The two were in middle school when their father delegated their first worksite responsibility — managing vending machines around the office and warehouse for the employees.
“We grew up going on roofs with my father … on the weekends and after school,” said Michael, who’s younger by a mere 60 seconds. “I’d look forward to spending time with my dad and seeing all of the different roofs in the city, especially after Hurricane Andrew in the early 90’s.”
By high school, both sons worked their way onto roofing crews, and during his senior year, Michael started a commercial pressure washing division to support roofing projects. In 2004, Hurricane Charley devastated central Florida and he ran a 40-man roofing crew at the Orlando International Airport while still attending Florida Atlantic University.
“It was a big job, and it felt great to lead the team through it,” he said. “From there I worked on my degree at night and never left the roof.”
Following in Charley’s footsteps were hurricanes Ivan, Frances and Jeanne over a five-week span. Kevin — then a graduate student at the University of Miami — stepped in with the company full-time due to the overwhelming roofing demand across the state.
Once the storm-related work stabilized, he turned his attention toward technology and headed the redesign of the company’s website — which had only four pages at the time. Rebranding efforts with the company’s specific divisions, including the emerging solar wing, soon followed.
Both brothers have a lot to look forward to in 2017. The company’s solar division — Advanced Green Technologies — will celebrate its 10th anniversary and a track record of installing more than 250 Megawatts of clean energy.
The Kornahrens’ will mark it by completing a solar carport for its headquarters — similar to the one they finished for Lockheed Martin’s Clearwater campus that received last year’s 1st-Place STAR Award for sustainability by the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (FRSA).
The company also continues the transition to expanded markets through growth, namely last year’s acquisition of Pompano Beach-based Roof System Services (RSS).
Michael and Kevin are also looking forward to making an impact in the industry. Both are actively involved in several roofing-related organizations, including the FRSA and the Roofing Contractors Association of South Florida. They’re equally proud and passionate about their involvement with the ABC Roofing Apprenticeship program, which they believe is a key to fixing the industry’s workforce problem and preserving roofing for generations to come.
Now in its third year, the apprenticeship program offers a career path for potential roofers that are at least 18 and working 40 hours a week for a participating company. The state pays the tuition, but companies mentor the apprentices and pay fees for the three-year program.
“Until now, our employees who wanted to jump-start their roofing careers in Florida faced an especially long and tough climb,” Michael explained. “Our employees who are in the program have excelled in all aspects of the industry and are now training guys in the field their new skills.”
Another strategy Kevin said he’s passionate about is attacking the labor issue by implementing new technology to improve procedures and communication. It’s becoming increasingly important as he begins to see the generational shift within the company.
“Looking around in our production meetings, I notice that about half of the table is the older, baby boomer generation and the other half is generation X/Y/millennial. It’s neat to witness,” Kevin said. “I feel this diverse mix of ages is incredibly valuable to us, since we can balance “old school” and new approaches.”
The merger of both creates a dynamic team atmosphere.
“Adapting to technology changes and ensuring people communicate using the new tools can be challenging. No one wants to be bad at their job or behind the times,” he said.
“I feel it’s a big advantage understanding technology and software and implementing it with the other generations, because they did not have these resources when they were my age. I’m able to bridge the gap to help make people more efficient.”
Michael said he’s passionate about the production side of the business and feels great satisfaction in completing difficult projects, such as reroofing the 55-story Southeast Financial Center, the second largest office tower in Miami’s business district. Advanced earned the 1st Place low slope STAR Award from the FRSA for the project in 2015.
“A project like (that) seems almost impossible at first; however, utilizing all of our in-house divisions and resources, our team prevailed,” he said. “I find it challenging and fulfilling when we’re able to develop and execute an extremely difficult project.”
While some may view their positions as pressure-packed given the path for success carved out by a prior generation, Michael said he views it as an opportunity.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure. I would call it motivation and the desire to raise the bar and achieve greatness with people I love and care about,” he explained. “It’s an honor to be a part of this tradition. Every day I get to work alongside my father, brother, sister-in-law, cousins and friends. It’s a great place to be, with a lot of love.”
Though still young, the brothers said they’re looking forward to preserving and extending that legacy for a third generation of roofing contractors.
“I’m excited more than ever when my 3-year-old nephew, Mac, comes to visit the office,” Kevin said. “It’s neat to think what my brother and I were exposed to at his age, being in the industry. Will he continue the roofing tradition? We sure hope so!”