There are so many factors that determine whether a new company can set a proper foundation and plot a pathway to success, and timing can be arguably the most critical.
The four founding members of Meta Team LLC — the roofing industry’s latest, but first all-female consortium of roofing contractors to emerge this year — know it all too well. Between them, Candace Klein, Alicia Michael, Sherri Miles and Kelly Van Winkle have decades of experience managing companies in and outside the roofing and construction trades. So no one would’ve balked or been too surprised had these established women leaders in business hesitated from launching an ambitious joint venture two years in the making at the onset of a global pandemic that decimated the economy — except them.
While the buzz generated by the new partnership was in full force by the International Roofing Expo 2020 in Dallas in February, Meta Team’s launch occurred just before much of the country was in COVID-19 lockdowns and roofing wasn’t declared an essential service everywhere.
“While some may think this shouldn’t be the time to launch something like this, we think the exact opposite,” said Miles, Meta Team co-founder and president of Miles Roofing Inc. in Chesapeake, Va. “This is the perfect time … when we have kind of a clean slate to come back in better ways. We see so many obstacles in our way. What’s one more?”
The mission and challenge is unique, said Klein, Meta Team’s CEO.
“We are transforming the construction experience for socially-conscious clients,” said Klein, president of Klein Contracting Corp., of Ga. “In the past, organizations had to work with a multitude of different roofing companies across various regions. Meta Team now offers clients the ability to call one company that can satisfy their procurement goals and roofing needs.”
Staying In Motion
Meta Team’s leadership remains adaptable, committed and resoundingly confident in their pathway to success. They are the first national, women-owned and certified commercial roofing company designed to deliver high-quality roofing solutions for new construction, reroofing, solar, design-build and repair and maintenance. The company currently offers services in 21 states and company founders say they intend to cover all states very soon.
They’ll be rather lonely when they get there. Women owners represent less than 1% of all commercial roofing companies in the United States. By just meeting together, Klein, Miles and Van Winkle — president and CEO of King of Texas Roofing Co., in Grand Prairie, Texas — represent a good proportion of that small group.
“Besides both having family enterprises, I realized that we share many similar values,” said Van Winkle. “These values include giving back to the community and to industry that has been so good to us, a focus on continuing professional development and education, and a commitment to safety and integrity in our businesses. I wanted to be involved with this venture, along with other like-minded women, to blaze a trail within the industry.”
The trio brought in Alicia Michael, also a certified women’s business owner from the automotive space, into the fold and went to work. The only non-roofer in the group, she said she saw an opportunity to offer a different business perspective to the team and was drawn by the prospect of personal and professional growth.
“I have so much confidence in these women and I’m honored to be part of this group,” said Michael, company president. “It’s an impressive group of women who have worked really hard to get to where they are today, and they want to continue to get better. There was no hesitation to get involved at all.”
Before really seeking clients, their strategy involved establishing the right foundation. In May, Meta Team earned national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Greater Women’s Business Council, a regional partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. The meticulous certification process included in-depth reviews of the business to confirm it’s at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or women.
Meta Team’s core values include integrity, diversity, community, service and safety. Mentorship may not be officially in the mission statement, but it’s certainly important to the founders and part of what they see as their role in improving the roofing industry as a whole. They have a distinguishable history of giving back: Miles is a vice chairwoman of the National Roofing Contractors Association’s (NRCA) executive committee, and has been heavily involved with the NRCA’s National Legal Resource Center. Van Winkle is a former NRCA board member and vice president, and is also a member of the Roofing Alliance Board of Trustees. Van Winkle said she also wanted to remind women seeking meaningful careers that they can find them, as well as opportunities to lead, in the roofing industry.
“Women can be part of a larger purpose, as we offer needed skills and talent in the construction industry,” she explained. “Additionally, there are increasing opportunities for women, due to industry growth and an aging workforce. There’s a talent shortage in the U.S. and not enough workers to fill jobs left by retiring baby boomers.”
Meta Team is headquartered in Georgia — where Michael and Klein reside — but look ahead to changing the landscape everywhere for women roofing contractors. Because of their different locations, Meta Team’s leaders were doing video conference calls and conducting business collaboratively before it became the norm for everyone during the COVID-19 crisis. They are being very deliberate about their target markets and partnerships, but what they’re looking for is no real secret.
“We are looking for contractors that offer exceptional service and high-quality work,” Michael said. “Also, this is about collaboration, not competition. So we’re very strategic about who we’re talking to because we don’t want there to be an overlap in service areas. This is a time of innovation, a time of creativity on so many different levels, and Meta has brought forward a very innovative concept.”
With so few women like them in the industry right now, the potential for significant change is there, and they feel it’s within their collective grasp.
“We want business, but we also want to effect change,” Miles explained. “So, if this is a vehicle for change in that respect, then we’re hoping that it is. We’re hoping that more women will see us running this company, running our own companies, and say: ‘You know what? I can do that too. I want to lead too, and have ownership, too.’ That’s our ultimate goal.”
RC Editor Art Aisner chats with Alicia Michael, Candace Klein, Sherri Miles and Kelly van Winkle about Meta Team LLC, the commercial roofing consortium they recently founded and how they intend to shake the industry up. Stay current on the latest COVID-19 news with RC's coronavirus page.