Contractor Q&A: Leo Ruberto, of Feazel Inc.
Taking Over a Family Business has its Challenges, but this Roofing Contractor Turned Feazel Inc. into a Perennial Top 100 Contender and Regional Powerhouse with a Growing Reach
Feazel Inc. was started in 1988 by Mike and Todd Feazel, two brothers committed to focusing on customer care and building the foundation for decades of success. Since taking over the business in 2013, owner and President Leo Ruberto has piloted the residential and commercial roofing company through some turbulent but also very lucrative times.
Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Feazel Inc. now has six locations in three states, and is set on growing its market share in each spot with a variety of home renovation services that go beyond the rooftop. Last year, its 50 employees generated roughly $80 million in total revenue, earning it the 18th spot on RC’s Top 100 Roofing Contractors List for 2019.
Ruberto recently took the time to respond to the following questions from RC about the company’s success and its future.
RC: Who are you? And how’d you get here?
LR: I’m Leo Ruberto. When I got out of the military, a friend of mine was in the roofing industry. I was in the Washington, D.C. area at the time and an opportunity came up to start selling roofs. I’ve never looked back.
RC: How did you get your start with this company?
LR: I was a long-time colleague of Mike and Todd Feazel and purchased the company in 2013. Since that time, I’ve maintained the commitment to customer service, quality and community service for which the company is known.
RC: How was the company built?
LR: The Feazel brothers were smart enough to put the focus on customer service from the very beginning. When I purchased the company, I made a commitment to maintain the company’s excellent reputation, while also finding new, innovative opportunities to accelerate the company’s growth.
RC: Are there any recent milestones that stand out?
LR: The company has achieved significant growth due to the expansion of its service lines and geographical footprint. For example, the company opened its Cincinnati office in 2013, which led to establishing standardized documentation and processes for our other offices. Today, it has opened four additional offices.
RC: How is the company structured?
LR: We have a general manager in each location. There are three separate divisions — commercial, residential and a service department. Our service department is our maintenance division.
RC: You’ve also made it a point to embrace new technology and innovate. How?
LR: Feazel is always looking for new ways to innovate the industry. We accomplished this in 2018 through the launch of Robyn. The first of its kind in the roofing industry, Robyn uses drone and virtual reality (VR) technology to make getting a quote for a new roof less of a hassle for our customers. A camera drone flies over a customer’s home and takes photos of the roof. The customer is left with a pair of VR goggles to see the images of their roof. They can then go onto the Feazel website and determine which kind of roof they prefer — including color, style and material. An estimate is then provided to them electronically.
RC: How has that tool impacted the customer experience?
LR: It’s another example of how we make it easier for our customers to do business with us. It provides our customers a hassle-free way to obtain roof replacement estimates without needing to be there or schedule an appointment in the middle of the day.
RC: How do you build trust and strong relationships with customers?
LR: Repairs on the exterior of a home are not a fun investment, which is one of the reasons why we’ve expanded our services to include everything from siding to skylights. Feazel always tries to look at the big picture and is very intentional about avoiding being transactional. Simply put, we don’t sweat the small stuff and squabble with customers, we just take care of it. Having been in business since 1988, our number one lead source is repeat customers and referrals. We have relationships with multiple family members and commercial customers that are more than 20 years old.
RC: What type of training do you provide employees to help cultivate strong relationships with customers?
LR: We provide our employees with extensive customer service training that is based on the Sandler sales approach. We also have an immersive onboarding process with sales staff. They learn how to interact with customers and participate in classroom and field training with our sales managers for several weeks. It’s important to Feazel that our employees don’t hard sell our customers, so we also spend a lot of time on consultative selling and correctly pricing a job.
RC: Can you recall the best experience your company has had during your tenure?
LR: Feazel takes investing in our community very seriously. That’s why our best experience is replacing a leaky roof at the Cincinnati Early Learning Center. Our donation of a new roof and gutters helped the center avoid cutting programming for the preschool children it serves.
RC: What’s been the worst?
LR: Finding the right software to fit our needs has been the worst experience we’ve encountered. We invested a lot of time and money in designing proprietary software for property managers, which didn’t result in anything viable to bring to the market.
RC: What are the key attributes that make your company successful?
LR: Our success — it comes down to our people. We have assembled a team of superstars without any doubt. We’re also unique. Our unwavering focus is on the customer and providing quality service above all else. This is what leads to our consistent repeat business and referrals. Another is our commitment to innovating in an industry where there is none, such as the Robyn technology we deployed. However, offering a true lifetime warranty on every roof we install truly sets us apart from our competitors.
RC: Any tips on educating facility owners about roof systems?
LR: Ask a lot of questions to find out what’s important to the owner. There are many different variables. We also recommend keeping an eye out on your HVAC bills. They are a sign of poor ventilation or something to do with the roofing system. Water is easy to find, too.
RC: Any advice for other roofing contractors out there?
LR: Focus on the customer. This has helped our business thrive even in economic downturns. We find that if we take care of our customers then everything else in our business tends to fall into place.