Century-Plus Contractor

When a company can successfully exist for 123 years, it must be doing something right.

Roofing contractor’s experience and education equals excellence

By Mark Robins

Bill Lawson, vice president-operations for roofing and sheet metal, and Art Canales, president/CEO

And since starting in 1897, Houston-based Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing has been doing just that by providing outstanding personalized, professional building services. These include metal roofing and sheet metal installation, waterproofing and caulking services, new roof construction, reroofing and much more.

And even though Chamberlin’s scope of services has grown, and technology has changed the way it delivers these services, its customer service mentality, attention to detail and commitment to quality has not waivered. The cornerstones of its success, these principles have enabled it to stand above its competition and strengthen its reputation, which it continues to build upon with every project it completes.

Delivering More

Chamberlin was initially founded as a weather-stripping company in Michigan in 1897, then opened in Missouri in 1967. But, Chamberlin really came into prominence when it opened its office in Houston in 1978. It rapidly grew from the original office in Houston to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

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“As the company expanded into commercial roofing we saw a need to include commercial metal roofing in our scope of work as well,” says Bill Lawson, Chamberlin’s vice president of roofing operations. “Commercial metal roofing had become a big part of the industry, and we needed to be experts in the metal roofing industry to be considered a complete commercial roofing company. Today, we are still in our infancy as it relates to installing composite metal wall panels, but have executed some major projects that include composite metal wall panels.”

All the Chamberlin offices are equipped with a complete sheet metal shop. “Our fabrication shop is ANSI/SPRI ES-1 certified and this allows us to fabricate tested metal configurations that meet building code requirements and all project specifications,”

Lawson says. “It allows us to field measure and break the metal exactly to the size that we need per the as-built condition in the field. We can install it ahead of schedule to keep owners and general contractors happy; that’s a big plus.” Cristina Kinney, Chamberlin’s senior marketing manager, says this also allows for customization if a project-specific piece is needed. Lawson says he likes working with metal and gets a sense of gratification out of working with it. “With a standing seam roof, you get to see the metal, and feel satisfaction and pride once you’re done installing it.” However, he warns, “You really need to have very skilled personnel in order to install metal roofing. Our craftsmen are meticulous and take pride in their work, while making sure they are working safe so they can go home and see their families at the end of the day.”

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Chamberlin University

Kinney stresses that Chamberlin’s people and its values are its two big differentiators, and part of the reason for its long-tenured success. “We have people who have been with this company 30-plus years. Our president has been here since 1978. We have that knowledge and expertise that we can deliver to our clients. Our culture is based on 10 values influenced by our president and executive team, starting at the top. It boils down to integrity, doing what you said you were going to do and doing it right the first time. And we have a long history, years of hands-on learning, finding solutions, gaining experience in what works and what doesn’t.”

Chamberlin achieves this via ongoing training and support that embeds a culture of learning, improvement and correct company protocol. Chamberlin University is one example of its more formalized craft training programs. Students participate in classroom and hands-on instruction each week where valuable skills and applications are learned. A Chamberlin University apprenticeship course is typically 12 to 14 weeks.

“We started Chamberlin University approximately 15 years ago,” Lawson says. “We continue to focus on craft training because we saw how it helped our margins by doing less re-work. Training with a career path is a great formula for recruiting and retaining.”

The training is conducted by manufacturers and in-house training instructors. PowerPoint presentations show technical product and application information with a high emphasizes on safety. “Specifications are reviewed and each employee is tested at the conclusion of class,” Lawson says. “We incentivize the participants with a graduation ceremony that includes dinner while receiving their diplomas.”

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