CoatingsPro Magazine

JAN 2019

CoatingsPro offers an in-depth look at coatings based on case studies, successful business operation, new products, industry news, and the safe and profitable use of coatings and equipment.

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88 JANUARY 2019 COATINGSPROMAG.COM L ong before he was using the latest in unmanned aerial vehicles to further his business, Richard Tooley got his start in the roofing industry at just 15 years old. Having grown up on a dairy farm in southern Missouri, Tooley was accustomed to hard work; laying asphalt shingles as a high schooler on weekends, then, was hardly a challenging task. Eventually, Tooley gained enough experience in the field to start his own company, Elite Roof Systems. Tooley's success has not been without some pitfalls, and creative thinking has been instrumental on his part in maintaining steady work during the recession. "Up until 2007, we specialized in all spray foam and coatings — insulation and roof foam — and in 2008, we decided to become a roof maintenance and repair [company]," he explained. "Come 2009, though, we just didn't have enough work, so we started traveling to find more since we had all the equipment." Within two days, Tooley got a call from Las Vegas that kicked off a 10-year subcontracting career throughout the country. As a result, Elite Roof Systems became well known nationally and was working on upward of 3 million square feet (~279K m²) per year. Business Growth Currently, Tooley is focused on honing his proprietary "Smart Solutions" 5-step process. "I wanted to create a way to brand ourselves and separate us from other companies, so I came up with a process that pretty much all roofs go through," he explained. "Adding the word 'smart' to the program helped encompass our philos- ophy that the life of a successful roof depends on five aspects; inspect, repair, maintenance, restore, and replace." e company also focuses on local projects but will often utilize contacts in more temperate areas due to rough winters in Kansas. at means that work in the southeast as well as California and Arizona are still in the scope of business. In the future, Tooley said, "We want to start installing commercial and industrial metal roofs and metal roof replacements. Manufacturers are also helping us develop and get into the underground coating market, such as water treatment and manholes, since both Kansas City and Saint Louis have been given 10 years by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to fix their leaking infrastructure. Coating is the best option." Tooley has also added drone photography to job bids, along with an "aerial package" of before, during, and after shots for clients. As far as lessons learned, Tooley explained that, "If a primer is recom- mended, use a primer. ere have been plenty of times that we had a manufac- turer say, 'I don't think you need to use a primer,' and they didn't suggest an adhesion test. en the product peels off five years later." He added, "I've had my own company since I was 21, and we grew a lot last year. We had a team of six to eight for many years, and last year, we got a military project and we had some big Home Depot projects. We grew rapidly from one crew to four crews in just 60 days. We grew way too fast, and we lost money as a result." Now Elite Roof Systems is at a comfort- able 10 employees, but as many in the industry have discovered, finding quali- fied labor is a challenge. "No one wants to get into this business," Tooley lamented. "You practically have to beg and plead to have someone give it a try. ere's lots of exposure to the elements and no training, so I've had some discus- sions with our people in the industry about a two-year program and with creative ways to hire people. We all want to grow, but the balance of work and people is a huge challenge." Other issues, such as overspray and weather, are Tooley's few "dislikes"; however, " being able to take someone's property and restore a roof that 9 out of 10 companies say 'tear it off and replace it' is something I really enjoy. e client is happy to hear there's an option." Family and the Future After traveling for work for the past 10 years, Tooley found that the transition back home has shown how supportive his wife, a psychologist, is. "I think she got more used to me being gone than home," he laughed. W hen he's able to enjoy some downtime, Tooley spends it with his three children, ages 23, 19, and 14 CP Photo courtesy of Elite Roof Systems LLC By Christa Youngpeter Roofing Contractor "Drones" On ProFile: Richard Tooley Hard Work & Craftsmanship

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