Control, Communication and Cladding

Bid right, build right, bill right. It’s this tenet that Springfield, Mo.-based Queen City Roofing (QCR) has tried to follow for that past 87 years that has made it a leader in the commercial roofing industry. The company prides itself on solving the needs of its clients—a skill it says it constantly strives to perfect —and it uses communication and continuing education to attain this goal.

Since 1930, Queen City Roofing has been a commercial roofing leader

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In addition to its new roofing, sheet metal and exterior wall cladding construction capabilities, QCR also specializes in roof replacement, and repair and maintenance. Its roof replacements not only correctly fit with its customers’ current roofing systems, but also its customers’ budgets and purposes. Via careful roof evaluation, QCR installers ensure their roof replacements cause the least possible disruptions to its clients’ operations. Also, QCR’s proactive approach to roof maintenance to protect buildings and their occupants extends roof life spans. Its ongoing maintenance program provides regularly scheduled check-ups and maintenance, something it refers to as a physical exam for the health of the roof it provides.

In addition to installing and servicing custom metal profiles in all grades and gauges, QCR also provides specialty services. Its highly trained team provides architectural sheet metal fabrication services, forming components from customer specifications and shop drawings to create precision products for it clients. By using its precise fabrication and installation, long-lasting products are the result.

Michael Katrosh, QCR general manager, says his company has been able to accomplish all of this successfully through the use of effective communication and applicable education.

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Talk and Learn

Katrosh believes having open communication and dialogue flow from QCR’s office to the field, and field to office, and additionally with suppliers, general contractors and clients have been instrumental to his company’s success. “We have a.m. and p.m. huddles with each crew in the field,” he says. “In the morning they talk about what their assignments are and their goals for the day. [These talks include] any safety hazards they are going to be running into, any equipment challenges and any detail challenges they may see that day. In the p.m. afternoon huddle, it’s more: what went well, what didn’t go so well, what do we need to change. Were there any safety and equipment concerns that came up during the day?”

This communication is done on-site with the crew; it’s not done in the shop or in a truck. A foreman takes that information back to his superintendent and that information flows back to the office. Other feedback has been known to include: “we’re running a little low on a certain type of fastener,” and “we need more of this or we need a purchase order for that.”

QCR has operation meetings at the management level too. Topics discussed include safety, project status updates and schedules, supplier delivery status, orders and field requirements. These two types of communication have been key for the company to successfully accomplish challenging projects. “The goal of our communication is to limit items missed or things slipping through the cracks, and we reduce snags,” Katrosh says. “We are going to have snags and [unexpected] things come up, but the more that we address them immediately, the better we can eliminate them, rather than let them grow and become more of a problem.”

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Ownership and Operations

From 1930 to 1992, QCR subcontracted the metal portion of its work to other companies. But, “We got tired of subbing work out and having to rely on somebody else and their schedule in a get-to-itwhen- you-can deal,” Katrosh says. He adds that doing their own metal gave the company more control over its projects. “This has grown into a bigger part of the company now,” he explains. “We not only do roof-related sheet metal, but also metal roofing and exterior cladding systems, and our own fabrication. This means our jobs can run more smoothly and our metal department has grown into over one half of our annual revenue, which is exciting!”

During his time with QCR, Katrosh has seen the company’s usage of sheet metal grow substantially, especially in exterior metal cladding. “Architects are really putting more metal on building exteriors,” he says. “Metal cladding can jazz up a building. That’s the ways things are going in the architectural world, [an increase in] products that are more sustainable. Architects are getting away from exterior insulated finishing systems and getting into more composite material and metal plate panels. Insulated metal wall panels seem to be the trend.”

Katrosh says effective communication doesn’t end with its employees, especially when dealing with exterior cladding. “Sometimes we get a general contractor or a project manager who hasn’t dealt with a particular system,” he says. “They don’t know the ins and outs of the entire process from shop drawings through to building completion. We walk them through each step, and often we have to do it several times after shop drawing approval. What has to be ready on the job to field measure? You can’t order those systems off the drawings. From there, what’s the process after that?

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“Get everyone on board in the beginning and explain fully the process that everything has to go through. Everybody doesn’t have to go out and install the system on the building, but they need to have an understanding of how the system goes together and interacts with the other systems on the building. Everything is a custom product on a lot of systems that are installed. That’s sometimes hard for some to understand, until you are actually dealing with it. Also, with these exterior cladding systems, we are usually one of the last groups in line at the end of the project. We are getting squeezed on the time frame on the end. Typical construction projects get behind schedule for one reason or another, and then it becomes a mad rush at the end. Missteps in the mad rush at the end of a project can be costly. So, early and often communication is key.”

In addition to excellent communication, QCR finds success through education. It continually trains its employees on job sites, has manufacturers and technical people come in to its facility for training, and even sends its employees to manufacturer technical training. The company has added a large training room to its growing facilities, which now includes an expanded sheet metal shop, and has tripled up its in-house manufacturing space in its metal department. “We now have the technology for much better safety training and systems training,” Katrosh adds. “This will allow us to provide the service, quality and workmanship our clients expect.”