Lessons Learned Over Four Generations of Roofing Contractors
Doug Sutter’s roofing roots run deep. For four generations, Sutters have roofed homes and buildings starting in 1902 in West Virginia to today, where the company has a national reach.
Sutter moved to Florida to start an operation there in 1989, and grew it from 25 employees to 300 that currently generates roughly $50 million in annual revenue. The primary focus is on large commercial and industrial projects, and Sutter has a repair and maintenance division with about 40 trucks that serve national chains like Publix and Lowe’s.
While there’s no traditional blueprint for how to grow a roofing company and sustain success in multiple markets, Sutter has implemented a formula that’s working for him.
“Great people, good leadership, capital, and a lot of luck, too. You’ve got to have all those things,” he said. “But you’ve also got to have core values.”
For Sutter they are: truth, honesty, integrity, stewardship and family.
Telling the truth is paramount, and sometimes not the easiest message to resonate across-the-board, he said.
“We’ve had a lot of guys over the years that haven’t followed that creed, and they’re not with us anymore,” he said. “We want factual communication with our customers and our company internally. We use these core values to guide us and think that’s something everyone would want their company to be.”
Sutter Roofing also emphasizes safety. Regular meetings and adherence to best practices is enforced, and Sutter said it’s more essential for long-term success than pricing or developing relationships with suppliers.
Working with some of the biggest general contractors in the country, Sutter said he’s also learned the importance of billing early.
“In roofing you’re always ahead of where you’re getting paid,” he explained. “Stay aggressive on your collections. I didn’t used to be so aggressive, but have evolved over the years. They owe you the money!”