Lone Star Metal Roofer

In 2017, Joel Kenty had been working as a financial advisor for 22 years.

After only four years, roofer excels as a metal advocate

By Mark Robins

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His cousin, Jim Parish, had been working in the tech market. Both were interested in career changes. For years the two had been talking about going into business together and were looking for a company to buy but faced uncertainties on how to proceed. After looking at kids’ bounce houses, various franchises and even bakeries, a metal roofing company that had recently become available piqued their interest.

The two moved forward as partners and purchased it. After a rebranding, Austin, Texas-based Green Knight Metal Roofing was born. In less than five years, it has become the premier custom metal roofing company in central Texas.

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Austin Opportunity

“Neither of us came from a construction or roofing background at all,” says Kenty, now partner of business development at Green Knight. “Central Texas is growing like crazy, so we felt that was an environment to get into. As an investment, construction seemed to make a lot of sense. We learned a lot about metal roofing and decided we liked the product. We jumped into it and learn as we go.”

Green Knight’s primary competitive advantage is it claims to be the only company in central Texas that does exclusively metal roofing and brands itself as a metal roofing specialist. Over 95% of its revenue comes from metal roofing and approximately 90% of its metal roofing business is for residential projects. “The commercial market is a much more competitive market, a much more low-margin market and the projects take longer to install,” Kenty says. “Residential has higher margins, we’re in and out quickly and we enjoy working with individual homeowners.”

Green Knight believes so strongly in the benefits of metal roofing it will not install any other roofing material on a residence. “As specialists, we have had the opportunity to work on many amazing metal roofing projects and have recently won the quarterly award for Best Metal Roof from the Metal Roofing Alliance and the Chairman’s Award for Metal Roof of the Year from the Metal Construction Association,” Kenty says.

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Green Knight praises metal’s green attributes and even brands itself as an eco-friendly roofer. “The metal is very energy efficient,” Kenty says. “We use Kynar-coated steel roofing coil, which helps to reflect the sun’s harmful UV rays. While the lighter colors do provide more solar reflectance, even the darker colors are more energy efficient than an asphalt roof. Additionally, all the metal we use is made from some level of recycled material and is fully recyclable at the end of its useful life.”

In its mission to bring metal to the masses, Green Knight has innovatively found a way to supply a high-quality metal roofing system for about the same price as a high-end asphalt roof. “By limiting color choices, buying in bulk and limiting this service to only the simplest roofs, we’ve been able to accomplish this goal,” Kenty says. “We’ve completed approximately a dozen test cases to work out the systems. Soon we will be able to increase the volume of this category and be able to provide metal roofing to a larger market.”

As a Texas roofer, Kenty acknowledges that they get a lot of hail in the springtime, but that metal for the most part can handle it. All of the roofs it installs are Class 4-rated for impact resistance. “That gives us a competitive advantage versus an asphalt shingle roof, which can get torn up pretty good in a hail storm. Our roofs survive the vast majority of the hail storms we get around here.”

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Growth and Gains

In less than five years, Green Knight has been presented with a problem that’s good to have: surplus growth and business. It received an award from the Austin Business Journal in its annual “Fast 50” contest for the 50 fastest growing companies in the region. It was ranked #9. Green Knight also received recognition in Inc. magazine’s regional list as one of the fastest growing companies in Texas, ranking #77 out of 1,500.

“Our biggest challenge, by far, has been keeping up with our growth,” Kenty says. “We’ve been growing so fast that it has caused logistical challenges for us in being able to continue to produce while still providing a high-quality delivery experience. In addition to adding personnel, we have been focusing on our production and communication systems in order to improve efficiency. While we still have a lot to work through, our dedication to ensuring a high-quality experience drives us to continue to improve.”

Green Knight empowers its supervisors and its line-level employees to make decisions and to do things in the best interest of the project and the client. “That’s been tremendously helpful,” Kenty says. “We also hired a warehouse supervisor whose job is to ensure equipment and materials are staged, ensure labor is set-up and that communication is happening with the customer. He manages the fabrication of all the trim in the warehouse. Adding that position has been huge in helping us keep up with logistical challenges. We are finding creative and interesting ways to address the issues.”

Other creative ways Kenty says the company is growing is with metal wall cladding and custom metal features such as copper awnings. “Additionally, we plan to increase the amount of commercial work we do. We strongly believe that we will be the dominant metal roofing option in our region as we continue to grow aggressively. Soon, everyone will know our tag line: ‘Armor Your Castle with the Green Knight.’”

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