The building community in and around Metro Detroit is buzzing about how quickly and strongly the city’s revitalization is taking shape. After years of neglect, financial instability and political turmoil, Detroit is bouncing back behind the leadership of developers and visionary entrepreneurs eager to draw the critical millennial generation from the Motor City’s burgeoning suburbs back to a lively and vibrant downtown.
Barely a decade removed from one the country’s biggest population drops, and just a few years after the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, the positive momentum surrounding the downtown development in both business and entertainment sectors is undeniable. And it’s opening the doors to new and interesting roofing work.
With all this long overdue change and new business opportunities around them altering the landscape —figuratively and literally — the team at Butcher & Butcher Construction is staying focused on the basics that built the company up to become one of the premier roofing contractors in the region and the country. It’s not that they’re standing pat with all that’s happening in their hometown roofing market, but it’s hard to argue with a formula that’s consistently bred more than four decades of success.
“Our motto is that we’re committed to the finest workmanship in the industry, and we do it through training, inspections, and pride in the work done by our employees,” said Pat Butcher, company cofounder and president.
It also helps to take care of your customers, big and small, which they’ve had plenty of opportunity to do primarily in southeast Michigan’s commercial, industrial and institutional roofing market since the mid-1970s.
“We build relationships with customers by taking care of them,” Butcher explained. “You follow up with them and do quality work. Our work is 80 percent repeat customers and it’s about facetime! — Meeting with them in person. Our fantastic project managers are involved and onsite, ensuring our commitment to the finest workmanship in the industry is top of mind.”
On the Job
Though their father was a successful dentist, brothers Pat, Paul and Joe Butcher always liked working and creating things with their hands and being outdoors. Years before they went into business together, Pat can distinctly remember when he was bit by the roofing bug.
“I roofed the garage that my brothers built at our summer home when I was 13 years old,” he recalled. “At that point I realized how cool it was to be on a roof and I really enjoyed the experience.”
The trio forged a company in 1975 and won their first big contract within that first year with the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in Detroit.
The first taste of success and potential for growth while the metropolitan area developed around the core city drove the Butchers to take a deeper dive into the industry to become roofing professionals. That same year, Pat said he attended his first National Roofing Contractors Association convention in Atlanta and was blown away.
“It really opened my eyes to the roofing industry. It’s when I truly realized how great the industry is,” he said. “I saw a bunch of ultra-successful companies and that the potential was there for my company.”
By becoming masters of their craft and by building strong relationships with dependable industry mainstays such as Firestone and GAF, the company continued to grow in service offerings and locations.
Butcher & Butcher has 120 employees spread across multiple divisions: commercial roofing; residential/steep slope roofing; service; glass and glazing; and sheet metal and siding.
The service department includes a 24-hour emergency response team, and the majority of all projects (60 percent) are reroofs.
The company generating more than $16.4 million revenue last year, good for 65th on RC’s 2017 Top 100 Roofing Contractors List.
Business longevity and success aside, the Butchers value their employees and are proud of their company’s commitment to their safety and long-term fulfillment.
All crews participate in mandatory toolbox talk sessions on a weekly basis, and each crew also certifies in cpr and first-aid training. All employees also complete 10-hour training by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Always looking to incorporate new ideas and improve on safety, the company recently created an in-house safety director position tasked with updating safety policies and overseeing all training and new employee orientation.
The emphasis pays off in employee morale and commitment. Many of the employees have been with Butcher & Butcher for 30 years or longer, and others strive to stay that long because of the competitive wages, full benefits and family feel.
“I strive to maintains a personal, hardworking connection with the crews by showing up on the jobsite, and not being afraid to pick up some tools and help get the job done,” Pat said. “When I occasionally work side by side with them, it instills a sense of pride in workmanship. We have a great reputation … and it’s a good feeling working for a well-respected company.”
The Butchers particularly take pride in knowing the business is a true family operation.
Pat’s daughter Jaclyn works closely with the executive team and handles all business marketing, branding, advertising and communications. Son Pat Jr. is an attorney who after years of working in his own practice now acts as in-house legal counsel responsible for all contracts and business agreements. His son Matthew is heading the company’s relatively new glass division, which has experienced 300 percent growth in the last three years; and son Ryan recently took over office management duties following the retirement of his predecessor after 27 years with the company.
“The best thing about my business is having all my children working for my business,” Pat said. “Their personal success and commitment to the success our company is what makes me most proud.”
Another point of pride for Butcher and the entire company is their philanthropy and effort they put into giving back to the community. For the past three years, the company has supported Friends of Foster Kids around Christmas time. The non-profit organization is based in suburban Detroit and provides Christmas gifts to foster children in the area who have not experienced the joy of the holidays and might not otherwise receive any gifts.
Last year, Butcher & Butcher sponsored 14 kids and through the generosity of employees, completely filled each child’s Christmas wish list. The collection included brand new bicycles, iPods, tablet computers, gaming systems, dolls and clothes.
“We hung up a giving tree in the shop and had over 100 tags with each child’s wish on it,” Butcher described. “The response from our employees was incredible! We’re looking forward to sponsoring even more children next year.”
The company also donated building materials, tools and labor to restore a historic mausoleum in a Civil War-era cemetery in Pontiac and to build an exhibit at the renowned Hands On Children’s Museum in Ann Arbor.
It’s all centered around the belief that giving back to the community you serve is important when you can. Butcher’s other piece of can’t-miss advice to up-and-coming roofing contractors also rings true:
“Don’t give your work away,” he said. “This work is very difficult and to be a non-responsible, low bidder is not something you ever want to do.”