Jesse Scalo was never pressured to enter the roofing industry as a career, but admits her father, Jack Scalo — CEO of RC’s 2015 Commercial Roofing Contractor of the Year, Burns & Scalo Roofing, made sure she and her brother spent enough time during the summers growing up around the company yard to understand the value of hard work.
It’s now paying off in several ways as the youngest Scalo is an integral part of the company’s leadership team — spearheading its digital communications efforts, marketing rebrand and prospecting big-time clients for its growing list of roofing and building envelope services.
RC: Tell us about your family’s long history in the roofing business.
JS: Burns & Scalo was established in 1956, and recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, which is something we’re very proud of. Our founders Duke Burns and (grandfather) John Scalo began as a two-man residential roofing company. My father, Jack, took the company to new heights when he started the commercial division and has since developed the company into a multi-state, multi-service group of companies.
Our founders established a fundamental set of values that we still incorporate into our day-to-day business focus.
RC: What type of work does your company do?
JS: The company does primarily commercial roofing work (87 percent), which is a mix of new construction and reroof.
The Scalo Companies employ about 250 people, including a union roofing company called Cuddy Roofing. We pride ourselves on the scale and capabilities of our in-house crews but if we need to subcontract a job, we’ll do whatever it takes to meet the customer’s needs.
RC: What would you say are the most significant achievements or milestones in your career thus far?
JS: So far, I’m most proud of the internal shift I’ve started in the integration of sales, customers service, and marketing. In a space that was very disconnected before, we’ve become very intentional about joining forces in these departments to assist in driving and supporting each other. Each department has a shared goal, which means part of their success is based on the performance of the department they support-like a gear on a bike. I find this integration essential in driving a sales-focused organization.
RC: Do you believe your age gives you an advantage in the roofing business, or has it ever been a hindrance on the jobsite or off?
JS: Certainly. People want to deal with people with experience, especially when making a significant capital commitment — and I don’t blame them. At the same time, I look at it as an advantage. Being underestimated gives you an opportunity to impress your clients and exceed their expectations. Once they understand the level of commitment I take to their account and my willingness to bring in help when I need it, they don’t seem to mind as much.
I think where my age is a disadvantage, I’m very lucky to carry the Scalo name, which is an advantage most people don’t have. I’d never let our company lose a job because of my age or inexperience — at that point I’d pull in assistance from my upper level management to join me in meeting with the client.
RC: What are some specific challenges in your market, and how do you believe your age helped you overcome them?
JS: I think the greatest benefit to approaching challenges in my market at my age is my level of adaptability. I am very anti ‘that’s the way it’s always been done.’ I feel every situation needs to be looked at through the lens of, ‘how can I make this situation better?’ While I respect the knowledge and history of my company and the people that work here, and they do so many things very well, you’ve got to stretch to grow, and young energy like mine can act as a pleasant reminder of that!
I’ve done this a lot in the last few years with personnel, making sure the right people are in the right seats on the bus and not being afraid of looking at that constantly and creatively to find efficiencies and get more out of people. Also, I see this a lot with technology. I recently spent a lot of time getting our sales and estimating team on a software that helps up time manage, measure results, and increase accountability.
My dad always says, “Either you’re green and growing or you’re brown and wilting.” Energy, adaptability, and an openness to learn is what I hope to continue to bring to the table when solving challenges, even when I’m no longer a Young Gun.
RC: What excites you about the future?
JS: My brother John and I are now coming in as third generation potential owners and we take great pride in the fundamental values set into place by our grandfather and Duke Burns. We have a great amount of respect for our dad in carrying those on throughout the growth of our company. I look forward to ensuring the reputation of quality, ethical standards, financial discipline, and community giveback make it to and past the third generation of a Scalo-run business.