Contractor Q&A: Jake Byrne of America Roofing
What Started as a Small Business in the Byrne Family’s Home in 1999 has Exploded into One of Arizona’s Top Roofing Contractors
America Roofing has become synonymous with multi-family roofing and development in Arizona. This penchant for taking care of families shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the company treats its clients and customers like family.
After working for a roofing company, Ray Byrne founded America Roofing in March 1999 in a small room at his family’s home. Its first jobs consisted of three multi-family projects. Byrne’s son, current President Jake Byrne, joined the company in 2006, expanding its operations by tenfold. He worked his way up through the growing company before purchasing it in 2018.
Throughout that time, America Roofing has placed an emphasis on looking out for its employees. Not only does it hold monthly training sessions, it tests its employees every week on various safety practices, ensuring its staff remains up-to-date on products and techniques.
In addition to educating its employees, America Roofing ensures its customers are informed buyers by publishing educational articles and FAQs on its website.
With two locations serving Arizona, America Roofing has handled more than 30,000 roofing projects and has won multiple roofing awards. Jake Byrne recently spoke with RC about his company’s history and what continues to make it successful.
RC: How did you get your start with the company?
JB: When I was 14, I started working in the yard loading trucks during the summer time. I started driving the trash truck and doing tear offs when I was 16 during the summer. When I graduated high school, I worked full-time doing customer service. After that, I continued to progress from superintendent to estimating. I even handled the AP, AR and payroll department. In 2011, I became a 50 percent partner with my father. Then in 2018, I purchased the other half of the business.
RC: How did your business develop?
JB: The company was founded in 1999 and focused primarily on multi-family housing projects, with APP modified bitumen membrane systems. In 2007, we began to pursue new construction and residential business while maintaining our roots and focusing on multi-family housing. We opened a second location in Tucson in 2015. Most of our jobs are standard apartments or single-family homes.
RC: How is the company structured?
JB: The Phoenix and Tucson offices have the same divisions: Multi-family, residential new construction, residential and commercial reroof, and commercial new construction.
RC: How do you keep your employees up-to-date on safety?
JB: We train every Friday with two written tests on different safety topics. We put every employee through 10-hour OSHA classes and CPR training. We are a member of the Arizona roofing alliance that partners with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health. In addition, we have quarterly appreciation events for our crews. We usually try to pair it with a training, but we bring in food and reward the crews that are working the safest with gift cards and certificates.
RC: Speaking of training, can you share how you’ve made it a point to consistently train your employees?
JB: We train each month on a new topic. Our superintendents conduct the training — it is usually on topics that we find are occurring in the field. We also collaborate with manufacturers to conduct training at our yard. We have recently done this with Polyglass in our Phoenix yard and in Tucson. We trained on APP modified torch down installation and SA installation.
RC: To obtain customers, what marketing methods have you found to be successful?
JB: We market mostly through billboards, HOAs, local associations, also home and garden shows.
RC: How do you build and maintain customer relationships?
JB: We believe having a strong operation team is the best way to build relationships. We have a saying: To start strong and finish strong. Those are the parts of the job every customer remembers. We do not have a large sales team because our operation team performs. We operate on repeat customers the majority of the time.
RC: What’s the biggest challenge in your market?
JB: The biggest challenge is finding enough qualified manpower to keep up with the demand.
RC: What has your company done to adapt and cope with economic downturns?
JB: We’ve had to grow through different divisions and try to be well-rounded and not so one dimensional. In August 2017, we began our foam and coatings division, which now has three foam and coating rigs.
RC: What was the best experience your company had?
JB: The best experience is having each year be successful and celebrating it as a company during our holiday parties.
RC: What makes your company successful?
JB: I think our company is successful because we treat one another like family and put the company before ourselves. This starts from the top down. We take every person into consideration before taking on a job no matter what position he or she may have.
RC: Any advice for other roofing contractors out there?
JB: Don’t try to do every job. Be the best at what you do and stick to it.