Gary Cram knew starting up a specialty-trade roofing company in the mid-1980s was a gamble given the country’s recent recovery from a recession. But he knew if he established it on foundations like quality, service and great customer relationships, he would persevere.
Sure enough, his small but reputable roofing company based in San Antonio, Texas outshined and outlasted the competition in the mid-Texas market. Three decades later, the commercial roofing company is home to 100 non-union employees and had the honor of working on some high-profile projects.
“Throughout our history, Cram Roofing’s focus has been staying true to our mission statement,” Cram said. “It’s proven to be the road map for our success, generating lifelong customers, hiring and training people who share our vision, and arming them with the technology and equipment they need in order to be leaders in our industry.”
Contractors on a Mission
The mission statement that drives Cram Roofing’s success is as follows: To establish long-term relationships with quality-oriented customers by exceeding their expectations.
“We read our mission statement aloud in our weekly staff meeting and discuss how we lived up to it in our work during the week,” Cram said.
Cram said by establishing this as the foundation, the company aims to provide exceptional quality and value to the building owner, thoroughly understand a customer’s goals and needs, and make it easy for the customer to do business.
These are achieved through establishing realistic schedules and completion dates and adhering to them, closely communicating with customers about any changes or progress, and being environmentally responsible. As a result, Cram said there are customers who have worked with his company for more than 30 years.
“Our customer base is more about relationships and referrals because we’ve emphasized the importance of relationships from day one,” he said. “They know we’ll do whatever it takes to deliver a high-quality, durable job and we’ll be there for them any time they need us. They’ve grown up with us and vice versa.”
An extension of the mission statement is making safety a top priority for Cram Roofing’s workers. Many roofing contractors can say they make safety important, but there aren’t many that can say they’ve established their own “university” to ensure workers are well educated in safety measures.
Cram Roofing’s Cram University is a training system that helps employees both on and off the job. Like any reputable university, a competent dean has been installed. Cram employs a full-time safety and training director who is an OSHA authorized outreach instructor and certified fall protection competent person trainer.
“Employees are cross trained in a variety of areas, including work functions and life skills,” Cram said. “Our plan is to constantly evaluate needs and opportunities for Cram University to have a positive impact on our employees. We believe this investment in Cram Roofing’s employees will have a long-term, profound and positive effect on the company and in the lives of each member of our team.”
As thorough as the training may be, Cram Roofing takes no chances. Every job, regardless of size, has a superintendent whose sole job is quality control. These superintendents are OSHA 30-hour and USACE CQM certified. Cram Roofing also has a project manager who is a registered roof observer and inspects every job, working closely with manufacturing partners.
“We are highly invested in making sure all are well trained by the manufacturers whose products we use and through our own Cram University,” said Cram.
Thanks to its reputation for excellent customer service, quality work and an exemplary safety record, Cram Roofing has worked on some significant and historic buildings in more than 20 states. These have included the Dalles and Bonneville Dams in Oregon, the McNay Art Museum in Texas, U.S. Post Offices in New York, and the Fort Irwin Hospital in California, the first carbon-neutral, zero-emissions hospital in the U.S.
One project stands out among the others — replacing the roof atop the Communication Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Naturally, the building houses some of the most advanced technological equipment in the world, so the company had to make sure the environment wouldn’t be compromised. The job involved everything from constant background checks to complying with NASA requirements that tend to exceed OSHA standards.
“We were not the low bidder on this project, but based on our safety record, we got the job,” Cram said in 2008.
Cram Roofing’s ongoing plan is to expand its national footprint and continue its growth, which has averaged more than 10% a year in the last 15 years. To achieve this, Cram points back to the importance of relationships and communication established by the company’s mission.
“Open lines of communication with our fellow employees and with our customers are critical to how we work successfully on each project,” Cram said. “Our culture is laid back. We work hard but have fun doing it — and we have a very low turnover rate. We believe this flows from the family atmosphere and culture that continues today through every facet of the company.”