There is something that sets apart great roofing companies from good ones. It can be argued that it’s high-quality work or unmatched customer service, but there is one factor that stands out even more: making sure employees go home safe.
It’s in part why Kodiak Roofing & Waterproofing stands out from its competition on the West Coast. By creating a safe and healthy work environment, the commercial roofing contractor earns the trust of clients, then wins them over with award-winning work that can be seen on everything from international airports and state capitals to sports arenas and Google’s first campus.
“We have a set of core values that we try to use as real drivers of our daily efforts and our culture,” said Dwayne Nash, president. “They encompass shared ideals around safety, integrity, passion and proactivity, efficiency, humility and quality. We really try to stress a team approach to all that we do.”
Building with Integrity
First formed in the early ‘90s with “a few credit cards and a lot of enthusiasm,” Kodiak Roofing has an impressive portfolio of projects, has earned multiple manufacturer awards, and in 2021, snagged the 14th spot on RC’s Top 100 list with a total revenue of $104 million.
Nash learned the ropes from his father, a general contractor, before taking a job at a roofing company in his 20s. After earning a general contractor and roofing license, he struck out on his own to build and remodel homes. He started a roofing company that dissolved due to his partner’s health issues, but by then roofing had a hold on him. He started Kodiak Construction in 1992, later renaming it to Kodiak Roofing & Waterproofing in 1996.
“I was fortunate enough to hire many great people, which accelerated our growth and built a great team,” he said. “We have many employees that have been with us for 20-plus years.”
Vice President Dave Pope is among those long-time members. Pope joined in 1996 when Nash moved his operations to Rocklin, Calif., and they added a metal roof department that same year. They opened their second branch in Reno, Nev. in 1997.
“I was halfway through an MBA at a school back east when I realized that I missed working in the roofing industry — the challenges, successes, and ability to make an immediate and positive impact at a smaller company,” Pope said. “(Nash) had been successfully growing Kodiak for a few years by then, and I felt like I could bring some value to the company with my background in roofing.”
And grow they did. They purchased warehouses and moved operations around California and Nevada over the next decade, eventually landing in Roseville, Calif. and Sparks, Nev. By 2019, Kodiak Roofing broke $100 million in revenue.
The company is split into operations, estimating and accounting along with subdivisions of metal roof and siding applications, though cross-training is encouraged. Maintenance, like many other roofing companies in recent times, has also become a point of focus and growth.
“We train specific skills through internal classes, or we bring manufacturers in, and we do a lot of on-the-job training. Most importantly we list and track the skills we expect all employees to master,” Pope said.
Safety at its Core
One skill all employees master is safety. Kodiak’s operations team leads in administering its safety program while the safety team advises and supports operations. This is handled through pre-planning meetings, hand-offs, job starts, on-site safety audits and conducting safety training and certification.
The company even dedicates a portion of its website to explain what it does to work safely on every project, including posting its 182-page safety program. The comprehensive plan details the minutest of events and circumstances, including OSHA inspections, minor injuries, fall protection and specific roof type operations like single-ply and spray equipment.
“Safety is the first concern for all work, from pre-planning to completing each project,” said Dave Nash, safety director.
One standout policy is the Stop Work Authority granted to all employees. This empowers them to stop any work if it’s unsafe or when changing conditions create a potential hazard. To encourage a work environment that embraces safety, Kodiak employees are rewarded with company swag as well as gift cards for those who remain current by completing safety programs in the company’s Learning Management System (LMS).
“We try to make it engaging, fun, and informative, and the employees seem to like it,” said Dave Nash.
Certifications for employees range from first aid and CPR to OSHA 10 and 30 hour outreach training and fork lift operations. Once a year, everyone in the company, regardless of their position, attends a companywide “Safety Stand-down” for all-day, hands-on safety training.
“We have always recognized that our success was built with great employees, and we have tried from day one to treat every employee as a valuable partner. Long-term loyalty must be built over many years and isn’t something you can suddenly get during a crisis,” Pope said.
The LMS plays a key role in the training of employees. With nearly 700 active Kodiak-specific learning courses, the system covers a wide range of topics, including safety, technical training, process-procedural training and customer service. These are supplemented by videos and courses for service team members to learn about communication, repair work, specific manufacturer training and proper photo documentation.
“Kodiak feels that it is essential to empower our team,” said Kay Brannen, service director. “People thrive when they can learn and grow. With this in mind, we have crafted a robust learning program tailored to focus on all aspects of our business.”
Even with all this training and company success, leadership knew the pandemic and supply shortages had rattled everyone. That’s why Kodiak Roofing took it upon itself to recently hold and extensive employee engagement survey. The survey found that, beyond competitive wages and benefits, they appreciated hearing how the company was doing and to feel secure in their career path.
Pope said this wasn’t necessarily surprising, but it reminded leadership that employees want to hear a consistent message about what’s expected of them and to be recognized.
“We have always tried to hire the best people and let them do what they are good at, but they still want that validation that their work matters,” he said. “So, our task is to ensure they always understand how their work is directly tied to our success, no matter what position they hold.”
Among the ways they keep employees engaged is through charitable initiatives. Kodiak Roofing participates annually in sponsoring a Make-A-Wish child and holds company-sponsored events and service days. The company also holds a “job close-out” meeting after every project to focus on how they can become better.
All of this emphasis on safety and consistent training has allowed Kodiak Roofing to work on some high-profile projects over the years. Perhaps the most recent and impressive is the work it completed for the Google Bay View — the first campus built by Google — in Mountain View, Calif. The project is an impressive all-electric, net water positive campus featuring a sweeping canopy roof lined with SunStyle “dragonscale” solar tiles. Kodiak Roofing built the entire metal roof system, including installing a total of 27,600 square feet of Permaflash gutters.
“It was a very large, multi-year contract for us with a very technically complex metal roof system,” said Pope. “It required a large commitment of manpower and close partnerships with the general contractor and the roof manufacturer — BEMO. The amount of coordination and management resources we had to devote to the project was staggering.”
Pope said with the help of Johns Manville, the Google Bay View project, among many others, was a success. The manufacturer has also been critical during the supply shortages, which impacted even a top company like Kodiak Roofing.
“Johns Manville has been a great partner and has received much of our single-ply work,” he said. “The last couple of years have strained some of those relationships as material delivery dates and prices have been moving targets. But, in the end, these partnerships are critical for success.”
Pope also credits belonging to multiple roofing associations, like the Western States Roofing Contractors Association and National Roofing Contractors Association, for the success they’ve seen over the years.
“Having done this for over 30 years and being able to reflect, I think the most important thing is to always try to make integrity your anchor point and treat others fairly,” he said. “We have found that this educative, partnership approach leads to more trust and stronger long-term relationships. Our culture has never been one of high pressure, hard sell.”