Principal, Clear Cut Xteriors

LOCATION: Oakdale, Minn.


FAMILY STATUS: Miriam, wife; three children

Anthony Markgraf is one-half of a successful roofing contracting firm that, he notes with a bit of cheek, took a decade to become an overnight success. Along with business partner, Adam Bidler, Markgraf founded Clear Cut Xteriors, based in suburban Minneapolis, Minn., in 2019.

Markgraf's circuitous route to this point included a stint working in retail, being introduced to the roofing industry in a fluke, and cutting his teeth with a national contracting firm before he convinced his then-colleague Bidler to take a leap of faith. Within four years, the men have opened a second location in Tampa, Fla., and maintain licensure in neighboring Wisconsin and Iowa.

Markgraf cites his experience in network marketing as the testing ground where he learned how to sell, promote and recruit effectively. Whatever the cause, Clear Cut Xteriors was most recently ranked No. 836 on Inc. magazine’s "Inc. 5000" list of the fastest-growing businesses nationwide. The magazine highlighted that the company’s revenue skyrocketed an astonishing 710% in three years.

RC: How long have you been in the roofing industry, and how did you get your start?

AM: I started in the roofing industry in 2016, part-time as a sales rep for a small company that was run out of the owner’s house. He recruited me out of an AT&T cell phone store. I had zero interest at the time but ended up taking him up on his offer. That ended quickly, and I went to one of the nation’s largest roofing companies, [worked there for] three-and-a-half years, with a large offer on the table to take over a market that needed help, but decided [we] should start our own [business] in Minnesota instead.

RC: How long has your company been in business, and what is its history?

AM: My business partner, Adam Bidler and I [first] met in a network marketing company [before] I got into roofing part-time and recruited him to do that as well. [Working] for one of the nation’s largest contractors, we decided to venture off on our own. Fortunately, we gained a ton of experience working with them. We currently have 12 full-time employees in two offices, one in Minnesota and one in Florida; we are also licensed in Wisconsin and Iowa.

RC: What are the top reasons why the company is successful, and what role have you played in the company’s success?

AM: A huge reason for the quick success was the previous experience gained from network marketing — direct sales. I learned how to sell, promote, and recruit at a very high level, [and did] that for eight years. Then, working in the roofing industry as a sales rep for three years positioned us to have quick success — from the outside looking in. In reality, [our success] has been in the works since 2012; we just recently started a roofing company [but] it took 10 years to succeed overnight.

Also, we [offer] a ton of incentives out to our team. I like to think of creating a company the way I always wanted it [to be when I was] a rep. Culture is big, too. We have a special culture where everyone loves to help each other and work together, knowing it will help everyone in the long run.

Finally, we give the team the power. We have a mission to create one of the best companies in the nation, and we let people put their input and effort into creating that with us.

RC: What types of offerings does your company provide?

AM: We [offer] reroofing, residential and commercial roof systems, siding, and gutters; [a significant portion of revenue comes from] storm [restoration] work.

RC: What are significant challenges in your market, and how is the company addressing them?

AM: [H]ow much competition there is; there are tons of companies in the Twin Cities. What really separates [one] roofing company from the other hundreds of contractors available in Minnesota? Not a lot.

We can all put on a roof relatively the same way. It comes down to the systems, processes, communication, and customer experience; ultimately, we are the reps for Clear Cut Xteriors. If we handle our business focusing on those things — emphasizing communication — we can separate ourselves from most of the competition.

RC: Do you see a generational difference in your own company?

AM: My business partner and I are each 31, and most of our reps are under 30. We understand that people really want a seamless experience, and customer service to be a focal point. How [often] have you heard "contractor dropped the ball," especially with communication? We try to do the opposite of that. It is a different world, being most contractors are [older than] 30 years old.

RC: Do you see your age as an advantage or disadvantage in this business?

AM: I don’t see my age as a disadvantage because of the skills I’ve worked on over the last 10 years, like relationships, communication, and drive. I don’t know if most people my age are thinking of these things, but I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with successful entrepreneurs by the time I was 20, so I’ve learned a lot in 11 years.

RC: What area of the roofing business are you the most passionate about?

AM: Helping people. Whether that is a new person getting started in our business or teaching them how to make more money than they’ve ever made in their lives. Or a homeowner who has had a difficult time with an insurance company or contractor in the past and being able to give them a positive experience with my knowledge and help.

RC: Are you involved in any associations, et al., you’d like to highlight?

AM: I was in a network marketing company for eight years, which taught me so much about business, sales, team growth, and promotion. It’s the reason we were able to take off so fast. Most people mock [the network marketing] industry, but I was able to use the skills I learned to create one of the fastest-growing companies — not just roofing — in America. We were [also] ranked the 30th fastest [growing company in the] Midwest by Inc.

RC: What’s next? What are your plans for the business?

AM: The next big step is to make a name for ourselves in Florida. Meanwhile, we will be looking to expand into more markets across America. We want to create limitless opportunities for those who trust us and come aboard.

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