Springfield Owner Nick Jacqmain recalls a memorable job where the client, a Michigan courthouse, asked Springfield to evaluate its roof. The client said following a recent roof replacement, the building’s occupants complained of headaches and feeling sick.
Springfield’s Vice President of Operations, Matt Brucker, discovered the previous roofer unknowingly covered an active chimney and the exhaust was trapped inside the building. Since it’s a courthouse and work couldn’t be performed with court in session, Springfield set up some lights and scheduled the work to take place at night.
“The most important thing that we have learned regarding communicating roof issues with our customers is to ask good questions about their processes and their issues and listen,” Jacqmain said.
The courthouse repair is just one example of why Jacqmain emphasizes the need for his commercial roofing company to work with great suppliers and manufacturers, but also see each client as a partner.
“We create partnerships by taking a proactive approach with their buildings and putting their best interests first,” Jacqmain said. “We call it ‘sitting on the same side of the table as them’ and treating their problems like they are our own, and then solving them.”
Right People for the Right Job
Jacqmain learned the value of working with good people when he worked for his family’s construction company throughout high school and college. When a sales position at Springfield opened in 2009, one of Jacqmain’s friends introduced him to the owners and he landed the job. He eventually worked in the field and became a service manager before later moving into operations. Once the owners began the transition into retirement, they involved Jacqmain in the business operations.
Having worked his way through the company, Jacqmain sees the value in supporting and listening to its employees. While most companies view their employee hierarchy with the main executives at the top, Springfield uses a reversed pyramid for a different managerial style. Jacqmain said he considers himself at the bottom of the pyramid to support the managers, who in turn support the foremen, who then support the field technicians.
“That servant leadership has helped us attract and retain great people,” Jacqmain said. “One of our employees that has been here for 20 years was involved with replacing a roof that he installed 20 years ago. That speaks to the trust that we have built with the client and the culture that we have built to retain employees.”
Springfield divides its 23 workers into reroofing crews, repair crews, and a fall protection crew, but all are cross-trained through a five-level, in-house program that encompasses all the technical and customer service skills needed. A spin-off of this program is an apprenticeship program that has been recognized by the Federal Department of Labor.
When it comes to keeping those workers safe, Springfield thoroughly trains its field technicians in safety measures. Many of them have become experts in their own right, allowing Springfield to design and install fall protection equipment on roofs and inside manufacturing facilities in addition to its roofing services.
“Empowering our employees has helped us mature and develop more than we ever could have expected,” he said.
Proof of Springfield’s safety expertise occurred when a client recently contacted Springfield with troubling news — one of the client’s employees fell from the roof and ended up in the ICU for a couple of days.
“Our client immediately called us in and asked Josh Walton, our safety manager, to help them perform a self-audit of their fall protection policies and procedures,” Jacqmain said. “The fact that they view Josh and our team as the fall protection experts in the area and turned to us during that time speaks volumes about our crews.”
With skilled employees firmly established, it’s only a matter of giving them the right tools and products to get the job done. To that end, Jacqmain credits Sales Transformation Group and Duro-Last for reshaping Springfield’s operations for the better. He said Ryan Groth of Sales Transformation Group improved how the company communicates with customers, and Duro-Last has provided custom solutions that shows clients they are looking out for them and their needs. In that regard, he said Duro-Last has become more than a vendor.
“We call them a partner and not a vendor because vendors make transactional sales, but partners are on your team and take ownership of the solutions with you, and that is what Duro-Last does,” Jacqmain said. “Duro-Last has also stood by our side in tough economic times and have really proved they have the best team in the industry with the best products to boot.”
Duro-Last also inspects the company’s roofs once they’re installed. Jacqmain said every roof Springfield installs is inspected twice by its technicians before Duro-Last takes a look. This earned its crews an average 99 out of 100 inspection score, placing it in the top 3% in the country.
Surviving Tough Times
Since its founding in 1985, Springfield has weathered its fair share of economic recessions. Jacqmain said having diverse offerings has helped keep the company afloat.
“Focusing on service, roof repairs and maintenance, is critical,” he said. “When new construction and reroofs slow down during a recession, having a strong service department can pull you through.”
Along with its safety installations and service department, Springfield has carved out a niche in its market. Northwestern Michigan is home to multiple food processing companies, especially those that work with the abundance of cherries grown in the area. Springfield has become the go-to company for clients needing new roofs on industrial freezers and coolers. As such, Springfield belongs to several associations, including the NW Michigan Industrial Association and Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council.
This isn’t to say it’s solved all the problems facing roofing contractors. Despite its ability to retain employees, finding new workers still proves to be difficult in today’s environment.
“We have been fortunate to hire some outstanding people this year but overall, there are not a lot of folks banging down the door for manual labor positions,” Jacqmain said.
Its resiliency continues to be tested during the COVID-19 pandemic. Springfield adopted disinfecting and face mask policies, but also turned to virtual communications with its clients to ensure their safety and comfort levels, proving once again that working with others as a partner is the key to success.
“We have been fortunate that people and businesses in our region have been diligent and respectful of one another to ‘stay safe to stay open,’ as it has been phrased,” Jacqmain said. “We have done a great job to this point of sticking with our systems that we cannot submit to what has been called ‘pandemic fatigue’ and let our guards down now.”