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Eight to Celebrate

Based on a survey of submissions, Metal Construction News presents its elite eight of Top Metal Roofers, according to tonnage and square footage numbers (provided by the companies) for 2009. This is not meant to be a definitive or all encompassing list, but it is a snapshot of what successful roofing companies are doing in today’s market. These companies have managed to both survive and thrive in times of great uncertainty.

For our top five roofers, we profile how they’ve managed to do it.

The Top Five

Advanced Metal Roofing
Wilmington, N.C.
Founded: 1994
Owner: James P. Kenton
Services: Residential metal roofing.
Manufacturer Affiliation: MetalMan Roofing Systems
Ranks: #4 in Tonnage; #2 in Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 426
2009 Tonnage: 444
2008 Square Footage: 1,298,838
2009 Square Footage: 1,354,302

How they do it:
“We do have a company philosophy of providingthe best possible product for our customers,” said President Matthew Musgrove. “We’re in a very high wind and high energy zone down here on the Carolina Coast. Metal roofing is the only thing that we’ll offer to our customers, because we know it’s the best option for them, for our country, for our environment. We’re very focused on providing just that product.”

The Carolina Coast is prone to hurricanes and hot weather, so the high reflectivity of a metal roof is very helpful, Musgrove said. He also noted that Advanced Metal Roofing only offers Energy Star-rated materials.

A belief in what the company does and a consistency to its methods is the foundation for its roofing business. “We believe we’re going to offer the best possible product for this environment,” Musgrove said. “I think we’ve been successful in communicating that to the customer.”

While Advanced Metal Roofing operates primarily in North Carolina, it has been growing into Georgia and South Carolina, with plans to expand into more states, despite tough economic times. Musgrove said even though the company has to work three times as hard, it’s driven to keep growing.

The company’s focus has been on re-roofing rather than new construction, and Musgrove said a heavy residential workload has kept them away from problems in the commercial industry. “Our business plan is the right plan for the times,” Musgrove said. “The economy has decided for us that was a good decision.”

“The product lends itself to this economy,” Musgrove commented on metal roofing. “I think people realize metal is just an excellent choice in an uncertain world.”

A-Lert Roof Systems, a division of Centurion Industries Inc.
New Braunfels, Texas
Founded: 1975
Owners: Kenneth Tharp, Randy Shinkle, Loren Troyer, Brad Parish
Services: Specializes in the design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of standing-seam metal roofs on retrofit projects nationwide.
Manufacturer Affiliation: N/A
Ranks: #2 in Tonnage; #1 in Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 1,841
2009 Tonnage: 1,801
2008 Square Footage: 1,942,750
2009 Square Footage: 1,902,456

How they do it:
A-Lert Roof Systems is anchored by its integrity, employees, partnerships and unrelenting customer service. A-Lert manufactures and installs its own roofing products and all the work is done by its own highly trained employees.

“We control the process and we control the product,” said Division President Neil Berry.

Berry said A-Lert got involved with the retrofit business long before it became popular, and that wealth of expertise and experience has allowed the company to grow. Particularly in light of the movement towards green building and sustainability, retrofits save materials from having to be demolished and sent to a landfill, as well as provide better insulation values with the air space they create.

A-Lert has been able to retain its customer base over the years, which has led to referral business, and enabled them to withstand a tough economy. Berry said going forward, A-Lert will continue to focus on value engineering, investing in new equipment and the training of its employees, along with maintaining an outstanding safety record.

“The employees have been such an asset, they do such quality work,” Berry continued. “We invest a lot of time in training and growing employees, and that’s produced great customers.”

BRB Roofing & Manufacturing
Fort Gibson, Okla.
Founded: 1975
Owner: Doss Briggs, president
Services: Specializes in standing-seam metal roofing for new construction, reroofs and retrofits.
Manufacturer Affiliation: WeatherBoss Standing Seam Roof Systems
Ranks: #5 in Tonnage; #4 in Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 438
2009 Tonnage: 441
2008 Square Footage: 525,000
2009 Square Footage: 537,579

How they do it:
BRB Roofing bases its work in the principles of owner and founder Benny Briggs, who passed away last year. Briggs never wanted to make money off of something that didn’t provide value to people.

“To him and to our company, putting a sloped roof over an old flat roof, putting a nice new metal roof over a problematic roof, he was proud and we’re always proud that that’s something of value that we’re doing,” said Shahn Corter, vice president, roofing division. “We think we have a very good, long-term solution to people’s roof problems.”

Corter said a combination of quality people, safety programs and an attention to detail early on in the process makes the company successful.

“When we look at a building and give people pricing, we spend hours getting every tiny detail, finding any problem and then making the owner or architect aware of all those things, and have them figured out, before the price is given,” Corter said. “So when we’re negotiating, everybody knows where we are.”

The majority of BRB Roofing’s work is retrofit roofs, taking an older flat roof and converting it into a sloped standing-seam roof. Its primary types of projects include schools, banks, churches and county buildings.

“We’re always looking for someone who has been in the building a long time, so they’ve had the experience of a flat roof and can afford the initial cost of a long-term solution,” Corter said.

The company has had a strong year, according to Corter, and is working on developing a backlog of projects to be ready for uncertain times ahead.

“Normally, in past years, we have a pretty good forecast looking out six to nine months and it’s hard to forecast out that far now. We’re stepping up our marketing efforts, trying to get what’s there,” he said.

Crossland Construction Co.
Columbus, Kan.
Founded: 1978
Owners: Ivan Jr., Bennie, Curt, Mike, Chris and Patrick Crossland
Services: New metal roofing.
Manufacturer Affiliation: N/A
Ranks: #1 in Tonnage; #3 in Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 2,571
2009 Tonnage: 2,510.10
2008 Square Footage: 1,125,046
2009 Square Footage: 713,975

How they do it:
Crossland Construction is no stranger to success, as it also appeared as one of Metal Construction News’ Top Metal Builders in May. Crossland credits its people for its success, recruiting an educated and motivated workforce.

The company is working on an extended five-year plan as it navigates treacherous economic waters, but 2009 was a good year. The diversified company works among a number of market segments, including industrial and educational buildings.

Crossland plans to use its strong backlog of hard-earned projects to keep the momentum going.

M & F Litteken Co.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Founded: 1946
Owner: Kevin Darnell, president; Jean Darnell, vice president
Services: General contractor; design-build contractor; utilizing pre-engineered building systems.
Manufacturer Affiliation: Varco Pruden Buildings
Ranks: #3 in Tonnage, #5 in Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 1,587
2009 Tonnage: 1,384
2008 Square Footage: 440,400
2009 Square Footage: 389,200

How they do it:
“We just try to do our work as good as it’s possible to do, as safely as possible,” said President Kevin Darnell.

The company was incorporated in 1946, but it has been around in one incarnation or another since 1912. “We are the fourth generation,” Darnell said.

The roofing segment of the business came as an offshoot to M&F Litteken’s pre-engineered and general construction work, but a number of government projects turned it into an important part of the business. The roofing focus is on slope build-ups over existing flat built-up roofs. The majority of jobs come through the federal government (i.e., air force bases), but M&F Litteken has also retrofitted a number of churches.

“There’s just not much work out there,” Darnell remarked. “We’re going after everything we see and can come in contact with that we think we can be successful on. We’re having to go farther and farther away [to get business] and so is everybody. It’s just becoming more and more competitive. There’s a lot of people eating on a bone with not near as much meat on it.”

The Best of the Rest

AARA Architectural Metals
Founded: 1976
Owners: Susan and Larry Garberick
Services: New and retrofit standing-seam roofs, and metal wall panels.
Manufacturer Affiliation: Ultra Seam Inc.
Ranks: #6 in Tonnage and Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 159.86
2009 Tonnage: 189.76
2008 Square Footage: 206,271
2009 Square Footage: 244,845

Aegis Building Systems Inc.
Califon, N.J.
Founded: 1990
Owners: Rick Weiler, Tim Weiler, Rick Hinson
Services: Pre-engineered Butler buildings and metal roofing.
Manufacturer Affiliation: Butler Manufacturing
Ranks: #8 in Tonnage and Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 50
2009 Tonnage: 31
2008 Square Footage: 61,550
2009 Square Footage: 33,600

LaFave’s Construction Co. Inc.
Landis, N.C.
Founded: 1982
Owner: Joe LaFave
Services: General contractor; new metal roofing; reroofing; retrofit metal roofing.
Manufacturer Affiliations: MBCI, McElroy Metals
Ranks: #7 in Tonnage and Square Footage
2008 Tonnage: 104.9
2009 Tonnage: 128.6
2008 Square Footage: 115,500
2009 Square Footage: 166,500