Working as a roofing contractor on Cape Cod in Massachusetts has its own unique set of challenges. The popular travel destination is full of old summer homes, meaning the work and scheduling can be tricky, but there’s another underlying issue.
“Being in a small, very niche market, getting our name out there has always been important,” said Cory Varao, general manager of Fraser Construction Company. “Good word spreads like wildfire and bad word spreads even faster.”
Nearly 40 years after the Mashpee, Mass.-based company was founded, however, Fraser Construction has firmly established itself as a reliable contractor that not only takes care of its employees, but looks out for its community.
The company takes its namesake from Dean Fraser, who began the business in 1982. What started as a roofing and siding business has expanded to include remodeling, Skylights of Cape Cod (a division of Fraser Construction Company), a repair division, and most recently, a new disposal division that rents dumpsters to other contractors and homeowners.
Varao, Fraser’s stepson, began working for the company in high school, helping the roofing crews over the summers. He studied to become a marine mechanic, but was laid off at the tail end of the Great Recession in 2009. That’s when he gave roofing another shot and committed to it full time.
“I worked my way from laborer to roofer, from roofer to crew lead, from crew lead to repair division/production manager and then from there to general manager, where I handle the ins and outs of the business on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
With its founder looking to step down after a long and successful career, Varao is ready to continue the family legacy by doing what it does best: looking after employees and community like family.
Customer and Employee Care
Roofing contractors do what they can to please customers by ensuring efficient and high-quality work. At Fraser Construction Company, this begins way before it receives a job request.
“Happy employees lead to happy customers and a happy company,” said Varao. “Treat your employees with respect and they will be dedicated to helping the company achieve its goals.”
That respect comes in the form of health insurance, supplemental insurance, EAP programs, 401k programs and profit sharing for all employees. Monthly breakfast safety meetings bring employees together along with cookouts, holiday parties and other gatherings. There’s even one employee who makes use of his barbecue business and cooks all day for everyone — receiving compensation for his efforts, of course.
“By joining our team, you become part of the family, and it shows in how our employees conduct themselves around customers,” Varao said.
Employee conduct is paramount, as every job is inspected by experienced production managers and foremen, who in turn walk through the job with customers at the end of the project. Varao said this is done to build trust and ensure it is meeting the customer’s standards.
“We talk about things we may have in common and let them know we are people too, not just robots sent to their homes to sell them something,” Varao said. “By doing this we get a lot of our customers from referrals, which I always say is the old-school way of getting a five-star review.”
The company’s strategy has earned it some notable projects. A few years ago it installed a new red cedar roof and new siding on a 25,000 square-foot home in Osterville, Mass., and even installed a red cedar roof replacement for Walt Disney’s granddaughter in Osterville.
“It’s quality work that got us here and it’s our dedication to quality work that will keep us in business for a long time,” Varao said.
Thanks to this dedication, Fraser Construction won a BRICC Award from the Builders & Remodeling Industry on Cape Cod for the first house it ever built in North Falmouth, Mass.
“That project was special as it’s not common for a company to be awarded a BRICC Award on its first project,” he said. “It shows just what we are capable of at Fraser Construction Company Inc.”
All of this came together to make it easy for the company to take on work during the COVID-19 pandemic. All it needed was extra safety precautions, such as fewer workers at each jobsite, equipping them with gloves, masks and disinfectant, and staying out of homes when requested.
“We were fortunate enough to make it through 2008 and it’s looking optimistic that we will get through this COVID-19 situation stronger than ever,” Varao said. “If you cannot adapt with the times, you get left behind and become irrelevant.”
Caring for Community
A critical component of the company’s DNA is its dedication to its communities.
Fraser Construction provides nearly all of the roofs for its local Habitat for Humanity — which earned it the organization’s Golden Hammer award — and regularly donates to the United American Veterans.
This year, the company held its first-ever Veteran Roof Giveaway to provide a free roof to a deserving veteran. Thanks to its relationship with Beacon Sales (Beacon Building Products), which supports veterans through its programs like Beacon of Hope, the distributor agreed to provide the supplies for the contest.
More than 150 entries were submitted, and after whittling them down to five, the public chose the winner. Fraser Construction’s act of kindness inspired an anonymous donor to provide the means to give the second-place winner a free roof as well. Fittingly, the company installed the roofs over the Memorial Day holiday. Due to the response, the company is aiming to hold another giveaway in the fall.
“If it were up to us and we could, we would do all of them,” Varao said.