Working the niches

A recent article by Roofing Contractor Editor Art Aisner, on “Young Guns” highlighted the next generation of roofing contractors and industry professionals positioned to succeed in their markets and industry. All those profiled were under 40. What makes them unique, is their ability to identify key gaps in their markets and to create the right infrastructures to run and grow their businesses.

Finding a niche in a saturated market
Dustin Guess and Chris Perry are one such pair. They started their roofing careers in high school working for a company owned by a friend’s father, staying through college graduation. They did demo, managed projects and sold the occasional roof to a friend or family member.

As college grads, each pursued other careers. Then, in 2008, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on Texas’ eastern shore. In the wake of the nearly $30 billion devastation, the two found opportunity — insurance restoration work. They started a small roofing company focused on insurance adjustment work in Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. They liked the work, but the travel exhausted them. So, in 2010 they launched Absolute Roofing & Waterproofing, a residential roofing company serving the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Perry’s father, a veteran salesman, joined the company in its second year. By 2016, Absolute had moved to Frisco, Texas, and expanded to Waco. Guess and Perry added commercial and industrial roofing work to their business model and diversified into metal roofing and fabrication, selling to other contractors.

The company currently has about $7 million worth of work in its pipeline, 15 full-time employees, and uses subs to maintain a 70/30 commercial/residential split. Survival and profiting in a market saturated with roofing companies remains a challenge, despite the area’s rapid construction growth. Texas, in particular, does not require roofers to be licensed, so that when disaster hits, everyone hangs out a shingle and competition is fierce.

Guess and Perry say that key to success is being willing to outwork, outhustle, and outperform the competition. And, they credit their vision to their commitment to do things the right way and to give the best client experience to each and every client.

What Guess and Perry don’t spell out is that rapid growth required them to develop a business-appropriate infrastructure. Roofers, other trades, and even general contractors can only ensure their clients of the best possible experience (and that their companies remain profitable) when jobs are specified properly, bid accurately, and executed on time and on budget and that requires access to real-time information.

Be on the cutting edge of industry evolution
Another under-40 “Young Gun,” Caleb Strickler has taken the gospel of “access to real-time data” to heart. Working on roofs with his father as a teenaged project manager, he quickly realized that the best way to make more money — and move up the ladder, before eventually getting off it — was to stay productive and strive to be on the cutting edge as the industry evolved. Strickler currently is a field supervisor with Puff Inc., a provider of cold-storage and controlled-atmosphere storage which evolved into roofing, spray foam, and coatings.

As a field supervisor, Strickler is more involved in the bidding process, pre-construction, post construction, inspections and permitting process, and in the forensics of existing roofs and insulation/air barrier projects. Puff Inc. has embraced technology to enhance job site efficiency and deliver higher-quality service to customers. The company recently restructured its crews to improve productivity and relies on smartphones for real-time communication, sharing photos and client interaction.

So…if productivity matters, how are you doing?
You’re a contractor and a business owner, not a paper shuffler. There are tools and technologies designed to help you work on your business, not in your business so you can run your business with an eye towards delivering client satisfaction and profitable returns on every job you take on.

Smart operations matter. Just ask the Young Guns
Are you bidding accurately? Allocating time and materials appropriately? Do you know where your people are and what they’re doing? You should.

Accessing tools to deliver real transparency into hours, job assignments, client management, and productivity helps you ensure existing projects stay on schedule and on budget, and help you quickly collate and submit estimates for new business. These tools can mean the difference between eking out a living and making real money. And maybe even cut down the back office cleanup you do nights and weekends.

How do you get there? Do your research. Knowify, for one, can help. We’re already helping contractors integrate their business management needs with accounting systems like QuickBooks from an easy-to-use interface accessible from any device — in the field and in the office.

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