Roofing contractors that rely on storms to grow revenue, reach, and referrals are off to a good start in many of the traditionally tormented regions of the country when it comes to harsh weather.
Roughly 500 tornadoes were already confirmed across the Great Plains by early May, which is a bit ahead of the pace from previous years. Most activity centered in Oklahoma, including one 48-hour stretch with 17 confirmed twisters across the state with multiple reports of hailstones larger than 1.25 inches in diameter.
Hail-wise, this year has been the most active season for roofing contractors since 2012, according to Derik Kline, CEO of HailTrace, a weather-tracking and data-collection service for roofing contractors nationwide.
Contractors in Kansas, Missouri and Texas have also been busy, which is typical. Still, this season has been unique as several severe storms have also struck parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Illinois — some as early as January.
“I didn’t realize they’d had that many,” Kline said upon reviewing early-season storm data showing Illinois already had 72 reported tornadoes by early May. “They weren’t significant tornadoes in terms of size, but they’ve had a lot of them.”
Kline noted the record pace of tornadoes nationwide did slow in May, but it’s still early; there are likely plenty of jobs for roofers that will develop as the storm season continues.
Though early in the recovery process, damage estimates for the most affected areas in Oklahoma and around Chicago are expected to reach billions of dollars. They’ve proved deadly, too. As this story goes to press, the severe storms in early spring claimed nearly 70 lives across the country. For perspective, that is three times as many as last year and already within the top 10 deadliest storm seasons in U.S. history.
Aerial imagery from Wynne, Ark., following an EF-3 tornado that struck March 31, creating a reported 73-mile path with peak winds of 150 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Four people were killed and 26 injured.
Image courtesy of EagleView Technologies.
At the Ready
Many factors make storm repair work lucrative for roofing contractors, and being able to adjust is critical. Along with sustained challenges over the past few years from COVID-19 and the supply shortage that followed, adjustments made during storm season are helping roofers innovate in unexpected ways year-round. After experiencing two significant hail storms in 2021, APEX Roofing, based in Georgetown, Texas, developed two new departments that leveraged connections with local real estate agents, focusing on the customer service aspect of storm response.
The Realtor Rapid Response Program places APEX staff as liaisons between realtors and homeowners regarding inspection reports, needed repairs and other aspects surrounding home sales. After a heavy stream of hail business, the company also started a customer care department. Company officials said the innovations have helped keep APEX busy, with or without storms.
“We have really taken a deep dive into where our leads came from and capitalized using that information,” said Jen Forgey, APEX’s brand ambassador. “We can show that even small-town businesses can excel from year to year, even without a storm.”
Storm Team Construction, Inc., primarily a residential roofing company based in Jupiter, Fla., projected 20% revenue growth during the year based on internal restructuring implemented to boost efficiency. The company developed a proprietary estimation generator software program, working with industry-leading vendors to keep roofers armed with the latest and most accurate data.
Chad Simkins, president of Storm Team Construction, said the company also streamlined multiple internal procedures during the pre-construction, permitting and post-production phases, allowing estimators to capture true-build costs more effectively.
“Our experience has taught us that when clients are choosing a roofing contractor, the main two components they take into consideration are experience and customer service,” he explained. “We can show we maintain [both].”
HailTrace’s Kline said that the most successful roofing contractors he works with have a specific mindset. Regardless of the market, a roofer’s attitude can’t be where a contractor is “waiting” for a heavy hail storm to roll through to generate jobs. Instead, he said, he encourages roofers to consistently look for hail damage wherever they go in any areas they serve because storms can have a cumulative effect on a rooftop.
“It’s a different mindset for a roofer to have,” he said. “Sometimes you have to look harder to find hail damage, but when you view it that way you can grow by getting into areas where there is likely to be hail damage and work to do.”