Daniel Young’s path into the roofing industry is slightly unconventional — one doesn’t need a degree in construction technology from Indiana’s Purdue University, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Even after graduating, roofing wasn’t on his radar as he worked at Marion Steel in the engineering department.
But like many of us, when the perfect storm arrives, your life is changed forever. In this case, it was a literal hailstorm that hit Marion, Ind., in the fall of 2010. Nearly a year after the storm, as the restoration work began to taper off, Young met his future business partner, Ryan Martlage.
Although the term “storm chaser” tends to have a negative connotation, there are those who do good, reputable work by heading to areas affected by storms to help people rebuild their lives. Such was the case for Martlage, who has 12 years of experience working large hurricane and hail events. Young found the prospect so appealing that he wanted in on the action.
A 90-day trial period of helping local community members and providing employment opportunities for those in and around Young’s hometown was enough to hook him into the industry. Young convinced Martlage to hang up his “storm chasing” pursuits and settle down roots, and in the spring of 2012, they founded Kingdom Roofing Systems.
Today, the company has six locations throughout Indiana, working mainly in the residential market, but has diversified so that just over a quarter of its work originates from commercial jobs. The vast majority of its jobs are remodeling and insurance restoration, though the company notes a “high percentage” of its remodeling involves full roof replacements.
Investments in technology — both on the job site and off — have only bolstered Kingdom Roofing as a reputable company. In 2019, the company purchased its first Equipter self-propelled dump container to better manage job site cleanliness. On the digital side, its Customer Connection App lets consumers keep track of their projects. Members of the company have even served on advisory boards for tech platforms like JobNimbus, Leap, and Sales Transformation Group.
The tag-team effort of Young’s know-how and Martlage’s experience has proved to be a winning combo. The company is an Owens Corning Platinum Preferred Contractor and has received numerous awards, including regional recognition, awards from Angi (formerly Angie’s List), and installation awards from manufacturers like Duro-Last.
Learn more about Kingdom Roofing Systems in our Q&A with Young, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
[Editor’s Note: Responses lightly edited for clarity.]
Co-founders Ryan Martlage and Daniel Young combined technical know-how and years of storm restoration work to form Kingdom Roofing Systems. Together, they have more than 30 years of construction industry experience, 12 of which include insurance claims in more than 15 of the largest hurricane and hail events in the U.S.
RC: What founding principles guided the formation of Kingdom Roofing?
DY: The company was founded on a “people first” principle. From day one, we were passionate about changing lives. We wanted to provide unskilled people with the opportunity to acquire a pathway to take care of their families in a way they never imagined possible. We also wanted to give people “second chances.”
We partnered with organizations like Hope City, which focused on the restoration and safe harbor of war refugees, sex slave victims, homeless people, recovering addicts, orphans, etc. We created a training program for this underserved group of people while also bringing in top talent to come alongside them and provide world-class training. This philosophy, paired with the spirit of excellence and philanthropy, has caused incredible success and support.
RC: How do you continually train those employees?
DY: Kingdom prides itself in making development a priority for our employees. It is one of the principles we stand by. We do ongoing training in both our sales and production divisions. This consists of bringing in partners to train these divisions both separately and together, as well as providing hands-on training with products to keep us relevant and educated in an ever-changing business. Our administration team undergoes training provided by [training and consulting specialist] Tony Hoty to ensure our customer service is exceptional. We have also sent employees to off-site training to go and bring back initiatives and ideas from others in the industry.
RC: In what ways do you ensure you’re performing high-quality work?
DY: Use of Catch-All and/or Equipter on every job; every job gets a full-time project manager; continual weekly training; a project manager trainer on staff; a Head of Siding Division manager on staff; quality control inspections on every job; quality control walkthrough with every customer; continual education with all manufacturers in our state-of-the-art training facility; and we have full steep-slope roof decks, low-slope roof decks, siding/soffit/fascia decks to train on.
Location: Marion, Ind.
Specialty: Roofing, siding and gutters
Number of Employees: 40
Kingdom Roofing Systems believes in giving back to the communities it serves, which includes participation in the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project, and donating roofs to deserving veterans.
RC: What are some of the key challenges you’re experiencing in your market?
DY: We serve a lot of small communities, so finding skilled workers is the largest challenge as the employment pool to choose from is small. The vast majority of our employees are "farm-raised." That is the long game, but we are changing lives this way. It makes finding materials and skilled labor substantially more difficult but it's rewarding!
RC: How has your company navigated supply chain issues?
DY: We reinforced the relationship between our company and our distributors. We also bought in bulk and warehoused items that were low-stock. We negotiated monthly and quarterly pricing locks with vendors.
RC: Tell us about your “PRIDE” mantra, and how that shapes your culture.
DY: PRIDE is People, Reliability, Integrity, Development, and Excellence.
We put people first. Life is about people and how you can positively impact others. We focus on excellence: excellent products, excellent service, excellent warranties, excellent financing options, and excellent response times. Excellent everything.
We have taken purposeful steps to ensure we have a great culture and provide deep roots in a healthy atmosphere. In addition to paid holidays, paid time off, and flexibility for a good work-home balance, [in 2022], we were happy to add the addition of offering health insurance to our employees as another benefit.
RC: Any advice for other contractors?
DY: Surround yourself with great coaches and great partners. Pay for excellent products, excellent installers, excellent tools, and equipment, and charge the rate needed to deliver excellence. If you hire excellent coaches you will save yourself years of headaches. Utilize technology.