Bruce Manson began roofing homes with no intention of starting a career that would last more than four decades. It was the mid-1970s, and hungry for higher wages, he left his $3-per-hour job doing condominium maintenance to join a friend who sold him on the glory of laying shingles.
“He said we could make all the money we wanted. Ha!” Manson recalled. “We made $6 a square … and after getting some experience laying shingles, I decided to go full-time into roofing.”
He incorporated Manson roofing in 1977 and stayed in familiar territory, calling Bradenton, Fla., home. Buoyed by his entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to quality and more than 30 years of family history in the greater Sarasota area, Manson made a go of it — becoming a highly-respected and referred local roofing contractor. Still, maintaining profits were a challenge despite Florida’s building boom. So Manson looked close to home for a solution and drew his younger brother, George, to buy into the business in 1983.
Looking back, the elder Manson calls the decision a major company milestone. George used his business degree and previous banking experience to clean up the company balance sheets and began to implement operational efficiencies both in the field and in the office.
“He developed our budget and overhead and we actually started to make money,” he said bluntly.
That trend hasn’t stopped, turning Manson Roofing into a community mainstay and earning it a number of accolades and statewide recognition as among the best in Florida’s robust roofing market.
Ownership and Leadership
Part of Manson Roofing’s success as a company results from Manson’s involvement in the local community and national and state roofing associations. Manson joined the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (FRSA) more than 35 years ago, and spent the past year as president. While concrete examples of how membership impacted the business in positive ways were too many to list, Manson gave particular credit to FRSA attorney Trent Cotney and Technical Director Mark Silvers for keeping his company out of harm’s way on many occasions.
“There are so many challenges I could — and maybe should — write a book,” he said. “We are fortunate to have the FRSA at our back.”
In addition to the networking and professional services that membership provides, Manson said his employees work closely with FRSA staff and professionals with the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) on training, roof inspections and product education. They also take advantage of strong relationships with industry manufacturers for continued education and safety training, which occur several times a year. All supervisors, project managers and some foreman have participated in Dale Carnegie Training since 1998.
Bruce Manson is wise enough to also give credit where credit is due when it comes to his wife, Barbara. Along with their five children, she also helped birth the business, at first hauling crews to and from jobsites in their station wagon before the company could afford trucks.
Overall, he credits his company’s success to its people.
“The key attribute of our company is the employee loyalty,” Manson explained. “Our team members have been looking out for our firm all these many years and it certainly lets you sleep at night.”
That loyalty is rewarded with a profit-share program that activates three times a year, as long as the company makes money.
The Mansons also make a priority of staying very active in supporting their local community, including charities and local chambers of commerce. It builds back into the word-of-mouth business growth.
“There’s no better source of business than be recognized as a supporter of your community,” Manson said.
It’s part of the reason he feels so strongly about giving back.
“Our marketing begins with one word — community,” Manson explained. “While we have our website, being a part of and supporting the local community has always led to our word-of-mouth referrals. Our previous customers are our best marketing tool.”
Making a Mark
Keeping close ties with the community has led to more than just steady business. The company has won its share of community-based awards, including the People’s Choice Award issued annually by the Bradenton Herald, 10 years running.
In 2016, the Manatee Tourism Development Council honored Manson with the Tourism Partner of the Year award for their work on the Cortez Cultural Center rooftop. The center houses historical items preserved in one of the last remaining fishing villages on Florida’s western shore.
In addition to the accolades, Manson’s team has completed some notable projects in southern Florida, including:
- The Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. The performing arts center required 800 squares of shingles and single ply to fit a very unique building style.
- The Manatee County Jail in Palmetto. This facility houses roughly 1,000 people and required 1,400 squares of single ply over multiple buildings throughout the campus where security was paramount.
- Wildewood Springs Condominium complex in Bradenton. This three-year project required 7,000 squares of repairs and coatings across multiple buildings comprised of more than 550 residential units.
When it comes to quality, working with customers to produce daily job reports, share photos of ongoing work and keeping open lines of communication are paramount to the company’s success and everyone’s peace-of-mind.
As far as revenue is concerned, Manson’s team focuses heavily on estimating properly and using all the tools available to ensure profits are baked into the process properly.
“We do not cut our costs or bids,” George explained. “It is DEATH to take a job and not have a fair profit built into it.”