West Roofing Systems, Inc.: 40 Years of Building the Best

(slow electronic music) – [Jack Moore] Some of the
early days, it was obvious it was a mom and pop shop. We were a small organization, growing into a bigger organization. – [Ray Chavalia] I’d
say the early days were truly the wild, wild west. – Back then, and I’ve
used this joke before, I said the only harness we
had when I started roofing, was the one we rode in the
horse on the way to work, because I’ve been doing it a long time. – Our vehicles, it was a
challenge to get to the job, in some of the vehicles we had. – It was a old, white Dodge,
and when you tried to start it, it sounded like Dino the Dinosaur. – I mean that was the first obstacle, can we even get to the job? Some of the vehicles were pretty rough, and we were traveling all over,
all over the state for sure, and, you know, parts of the country. – [Jack Moore] There was a
lot of little team-building things we were able to do, that kind of bonded as a friendship. – I went through the
local vocational school. So the senior year at
the vocational school, I was placed with a local carpenter, and that carpenter was doing
sub work for J.R. West. Did that for a couple years,
and the housing industry kind of went flat, and we
were finishing up a job for J.R. West in Amherst, and I told them that I had landed another carpenter job. And he said, he goes, well
if I had work, I’d hire you. And I really didn’t know
what he was talking about at the time, I didn’t know
what he and Dick were doing, with the spray foam on the side. About a year later,
J.R. reached out to me, to come to work for them, and like I said, I really didn’t know what they were doing, but I needed a job and he was offering me $6 an hour at the time. (laughs) Which was big money back then. – It was June of 1980, and
my brother came and found me and said, hey we got this job
that we need some help on, what are you doing tomorrow? I was sitting on a bank
of a river with my buddies during the summer, fishing. And, I said I guess I’ll
go to work tomorrow. And here we are 38 years later. – Brian brought Dick West
in to spray the attic. We built an attic set in our vocational school carpentry class,
and he sprayed the attic, and talked about polyurethane foam. Ended up getting a job with
West Insulation System, which was the name of the
roofing company at the time. – You are who you hang out with. We really take pride in
associating ourselves with these big names. And they’re challenging
projects at the same time, there’s a story to tell with
each one of these projects. – They did wingfoot at Goodyear in Akron, and then the Goodyear air
dock, we did the doors on them. Ray Chavalia was on that the first year. – It was called a spider basket, the top of the roof was 225 feet, and this was a small,
very small steel cable that would, it was like a
spider web, you’d run the cable all the way to the ground and
it would raise this basket up. We had modified these
baskets to keep them off, they’re for window cleaning,
so they’re supposed to just hang vertically. Well the air dock is a curve, so we had to configure
wheels to keep the basket off the roof so we could spray the foam and it would have time to cure before we ran it back up again. – [Jack Moore] I’ll tell you
how square the relationship started before I was on
with the organization, it started in 1984,
they were in the middle of a massive transformation
of five theaters, at Playhouse Square District. They had basically gotten to the point where they almost saw the wrecking ball, and a small group of
philanthropists decided to get together and rebuilt these. It was shortly thereafter,
that installation, where we came in and started helping with additional roofs and maintaining
that initial installation. – Every once in a while
we come across roofs that people have forgotten about, and we get an opportunity to go back in and try and fix them up. We have that project,
right here in our county, that we got a phone call about a roof that I installed 26 years ago. And then to have the ability to go back in and breathe some more life into it, that to me is very cool. I’m looking at that job,
as, for 26 years old that roof looked pretty doggone good. And, to me, I’m kind of using
that as part of my legacy, is I want to get that thing fixed up, I want it to look beautiful,
and do a paper on it, and, it was a very cool job. I remember back then, it was very cool to get back on it again. – It was pretty much one goal, when I worked for Brian and Mike, those two would head up on the roof first, when the rest of us knew, you know what to get out of the trucks, what to prep for, they would holler down what we were gonna need on
this particular project, and we would just go, and
that, Brian orchestrates things as well as anybody
I’ve ever seen on a job site. – [Brian Chavalia] I’ve done
so many things with the guys, on jobs, and getting work
done, and that’s a huge, everybody at the end
of the day is just so, like, yeah we did it, you
know, that’s cool stuff, man. – And it just built a team. – We didn’t really have radios back then, so we were always yelling off the edge, and we had a guy on the ground, because obviously it was so far away, to operate the equipment and change drums over and all that, so to communicate, the guy on the ground was always yelling, you
know, hey Ray, hey Ray, you know, and if we’d hear
him, we’d go to the edge, and we were tied off
and safe and everything. Well we finished the day, stopped at the local convenience store, it was an hour and a half drive home, and so we stopped in
for a pop, and whatever, snack on the way home, and
one guy gets out of the truck, and he’s walking in the store, and he turns around and goes, hey Ray, you want something? And this guy come out the store, and he’s like, who is this Ray guy? All day long I’ve heard hey Ray, hey Ray, he was out on the lake fishing all day, and he could hear the voices traveling, and I just thought that
was pretty comical, that he was like who is this Ray guy? – You know initially, the small-knit group that we were back then, yeah,
we were all like family. We used to, in the
mornings, if it was raining, or whatever, waiting
for the sky to clear up before we went to work, we’d
go out on the side yard, and we’d play football. So we either, we got our
aggressions out at each other out there before we went to the job. – These guys were top of the
line, top of the class for me. They were, you know, I looked up to them, because I wanted to be where they were. And I still do, you know what I mean? I still, I am very driven to do more, I want to be, I just want to
exceed all my expectations, and my expectations are unlimited, they really are, I want to go further, I want to do, but for me, I had to learn from the elders, if I
didn’t go from the top, and learn from them
guys, then how could I, keep it going and for us to be continuing success down the line? – How many times were you on the roof and you had the guy next to you say, this is what I love about my office? You know, you’re standing
40 feet in the air, on a roof overlooking a valley and the city in the background. – Oh yeah. – How many times, this is my office? So it was never the same thing twice. You never knew what the
day was gonna bring you. It was a couple days after high school, I got a phone call from my uncle, he said we’ve got a big job for a school, and I need some guys to work on a roof. Except, can you start tomorrow? And at the time I was landscaping, and wasn’t having much fun,
said let me make a phone call. And the next morning
I was at West Roofing, getting ready to go work on a roof. – When I first heard about
West Roofing Systems, I was actually fishing with Scott West, Mike West, on a fishing boat, and he asked me if I wanted a job, and I said sure. He was like well, come in Monday morning, we’ll get you going, so. I was about eighteen years old, showed up Monday morning,
not knowing what to expect. And from there on I
worked with Robert Bosley, and my first day he came
up to me and asked me if I liked it, and I said it was alright, just fourteen hour days
are pretty long days, and he’s like well, if you
want to continue to work here, you need to pick up the pace. So after 24 years, (laughs) I’ve picked up the pace obviously. – My father happened to be working for a division of West
Roofing Systems called West General Contractors. He heard that they needed an estimator, so about midday that day,
I get a call from Dick West and Ray Dill, wondering if
I’m available that evening for an interview. – There was a few years that
Brian and I worked together, and we traveled. Just being part of that group, being productive and
getting so much work done, it was, it was an enjoyable couple years. It was a family, it was a
group, and we stuck together, and we made it fun. – Parma, it was like the
tenth largest school district in the state at the time. In 1993, we were awarded a
contract for twelve buildings. Now keep in mind that schools really like you off of their
property before school starts the next season, which
typically, at that time, that was the end of August. I didn’t start until July 30th. And I was basically given the ultimatum, you have to get this work
done before school starts. So, at that time, I teamed
up with Ronnie Perdue, he was another crew leader at the time. He and I, and probably
about twelve or fifteen guys, we worked every single day. We did twelve buildings. I completed the project one
day before school started. – It’s motivating to be able
to go to different places, and then still hear the West Roofing name, saying oh they do a good
job, they do a good job. People were, I can
remember we were working at Prairie State, in Chicago. And a guy, I don’t know who he was, but he seen us in the truck, and he, West Roofing, West Roofing, I heard about you guys, are you hiring? Like that was, to me that was awesome. – I went from Winterhaven
straight to Chicago, for a large 1.3 million square foot roof, in Northlake, Illinois. – [Brian Chavalia] The
roof was approximately a quarter of a mile by
a quarter of a mile. – [Chris West] And at the
time, it was the largest, single-storied foam roofing project, ever to be installed at one time. – [Brian Chavalia] The only
way to access this roof was to put everything on the roof. We had to have the foam
machines on the roof, we had all the drums on the roof. That was the project that
we brought our crane, because we had to have
the crane to lift up all the barrels and everything we needed to get up on the roof,
and then transport it with the trailers, out across this roof. – [Chris West] Learned an
awful lot, Brian taught me how to foam on that job. – I actually had a job site trailer, with my own fax machine. We actually even had a phone
line put into the trailer. – Everything you do in life, no matter if it’s at work, or at home, or at play, you have to have your team. And to be able to lean on them, in hard times, good times, whatever, I mean you’ve gotta be able to build it, and you know Dick, Dick
West, always looked at it as a way to continue to build
teamwork outside of work. You know, whether it was a hunting trip, or a fishing trip, you know,
we were working in Chicago, there was 30 of us,
and we had a rainy day, and he got 30-some
tickets behind home plate, and we caravaned downtown
and went to an Indians game, not an Indians game,
went to a White Sox game. And, there’s, I still talk to guys today that were with us at that game, and they still remember that. That was 25 years ago. – We’d get a week’s notice,
and we’d pile into three cars, and jam each other in, and you’re stuck for a sixteen hour drive beside a guy, it’s not these type of trips where, okay we’re gonna drive for eight hours, and stop and get a nice dinner, no it’s, we’re gonna haul all
the way until we get there, and a lot of these are off-road excursions and we’re riding these
dirt roads for hours and you’re beat up and you’re tired before you even get there. But, there’s a constant
conversation going on. – It seemed like it was
always business all the time, but it was a great break
when we got the opportunity to go out and you know
enjoy Mother Nature. It was just like a family, you know, we spend every day working. Those trips, it was just relaxation and it was just a time to spend together and learn more about the
person you work with, and that meant a lot. – We used to go on a
fishing trip every year, like either to Dell Hollow, or to, a place in Kentucky, and
we never caught many fish, but we spent two days together as a group, you know maybe three or four
people were on your boat, but you spent time with those people. And in the evening we’d get together and play cards and you
know, it was a camaraderie, more than anything else. – One of our top twenty fundamentals is to always have fun, and at least since I’ve been here,
our leader Jack Moore has really emphasized
doing that with everyone in the company. I always hear stories from the eighties, about how they would go out on hunting and fishing trips together,
for weekends or weeklong, and they would use it, as a
time for teams to get together, and get out off the field
and get to know each other. And they’re still doing that now, they’re taking different teams out, whether they’re going out for lunch, or the admin team may
go get their nails done, and I mean a couple weeks ago, I went out with a group of people to go shoot guns at a
range, which was exciting. Not many people get to say that their boss taught them how to shoot a gun. – I really like that connection. And I like, you know,
when the new guys come in, I want to learn their names and be like, hey Collin how you doing today? You know, or even, you know,
guys that are in the field at the other end. Hey, how’s that guy doing? How’s this guy doing? – Dick always looked at
building the camaraderie of the team, because without the team, you can’t accomplish what we
have to accomplish every day. – In ’08 and ’09, we did the Iraq project, under the Honeywell federal contract, or Department of Defense contract. – Once we had the project
secured and all that, and we were prepared. Dick and I, went to
Iraq, just me and Dick, to do like a scouting
mission, to see what this is gonna really all be about. But before I went to
Iraq, I had to, Dick asked me to select somebody to take my place. So unbeknownst to the crews down there, I was kind of monitoring who
I felt could take my job. – Brian and I had a conversation one day, and I had been running
crews for quite a few years, and I asked him what the
next step was for me. And he was like you don’t want it. And I just kept on bugging him about it. And one day he took me to lunch, and he asked me, if I wanted
to run the production end of this organization, because
he was heading to Iraq, to run a field. And I said yeah that sounds great. (laughs) And I thank him everyday for that. – Two weeks later is
when I took the balance of the team to Iraq. We all had to go through training. Everything was brand new. Every single thing that
we had going over there was brand new, air
compressors, generators, coating rigs, backup equipment, we actually arrived before the equipment, so we ended up sitting around waiting. It got held up for inspections,
but once it showed up, man I opened up those C-containers, and everything was perfect. I thought for sure that I
was gonna find this mess, inside of these containers,
but no everything was just the way I
remember it going in there, when it left LaGrange, and we started putting it all together, on
the ground, and off we went. They extended the contract,
they added to the contract. Team went back over in 2009. – Jabala, it was a Iraqi
military base, south of Baghdad. The project was being funded
by the U.S. government, and being run by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers. This particular project
was on an Iraqi base, and we were not traveling
with the U.S. military, we were traveling with private security. It was a little scary, you know, when you’re on a U.S. base, these bases are protected by twenty
foot high, two-foot wide, two-foot thick concrete walls. We got to the Jabala
base, and it was basically a ten-foot high chain-link fence. When you’re in the middle of this base, you know you can look in all directions, and see as far as the eye can see, it was kind of one of
those eye-opening moments. There was a language barrier. There was six West Roofing employees, and sixteen local nationals, and only one of those
sixteen spoke broken English, and you can’t just grab three or four guys and tell them what you want done. You know, you’ve got
to get that translated. Our translator was amazing. They showed up everyday,
they were ready to go. And the project, other
than we seemed to have high winds every afternoon. What probably would have taken us, four weeks to do in Ohio, took us seven weeks to do in Iraq. – It’s exciting to be
able to see the projects that come in, the grand scale of them, or how interesting they can be. We’ve done historical
theaters and ginormous manufacturing facilities
and we’ve won awards almost every year for
the past ten years maybe. I mean the workmanship that we get to see, at least on the admin and marketing side, that we see the guys
do out there everyday, is extraordinary. – It’s about a legacy. Dick West built a legacy
that was 30-plus years, that set a business up for success. We’re carrying the baton as
the next stage of ownership. And not only is it a pride
factor, in that here I am, a guy from LaGrange, graduated Keystone, owning a company, we help
provide for 100 people, and basically east of the Mississippi. We have a huge footprint. It’s an extreme responsibility. To have that pride in
developing and carrying that on to the future generations. – When this opportunity came up, I mean it was a good fit,
actually Dick didn’t approach me, it was Brian, he says, hey
we’re talking about this, and are you interested? It was like, well, yeah, I mean I was there before,
kind of run the Georgia office, so it just kind of made sense to have, say in the way that things
would be, you know, handled, on a corporate level. – To me it was pretty easy, really, because I had already basically committed everything I did for the company. I certainly have a lot
of respect for Dick West, and him for me, and when
the opportunity came up, I was on the list, basically,
of people he had suggested to be involved in this, so. I did an awful lot through
the company, coming up. So, the transition was not hard. – You work so hard to
think that you’ll never, make it, you know, everybody teaches kids that they have to go to
college, to be something, in the world. But I just knew if I worked hard, I’d make it in life, and
I’d find my way through it. And the day I was asked
to become an owner, it was just a dream. People ask you, why you, why you go out and tear off roofs, and you work hard day in and day out, you
never take any vacation time, and that was just the reason, I mean, that was the prize at the
end of the tunnel there, that just, it worked out. – Then it was exciting and scary, and the anticipatation
of what we could do, and where we could take this thing, now it’s okay, let’s get
in and let’s get to work, and figure this thing out. – The leadership at West Roofing Systems is really unique because
it’s built up of people that started from the ground up, who really know the industry
and what we do, inside and out. And they’re just a wealth of knowledge for people like me coming
in, to the industry. – Started here, 2011,
right out of high school. Had some family that was
already part of West Roofing, and was looking for a summer
job, and I’ve been here for, going on my eighth season. Took me five years to get to foreman. I was just, like I said,
you work your way up. It was different with me,
because I was going to college at the time, so I was only
here the first four years of my career here, I was only here for three months at a time. So, once I graduated college, and then, you know basically sat
down with upper management, and told them hey, I’m all in, that’s when we really
got the ball rolling. – Started on the production side. Kind of met Dustin, joined
the service division. And he kind of took me under his wing, showed me everything that he knew, and kind of proved me from there. I spent about, I’d say
about a year and a half, with production, spent
about, the rest of my time here with service. – There’s a lot of different projects, as many projects as we do here, you know, you get to do
a lot of cool projects. Gorilla Glue, you know, in Cincinnati. It was such a big roof and it was, and you know there were so
many moving aspects of it. And just the daunting task
of getting on that roof, and looking at how much roof we have, and thinking good lord it’s
gonna be cold in two months, are we gonna be able
to get this thing done? And that was a huge team effort. There were a lot of guys came and went, and you just had to keep
rolling with the punches. – We do a lot of low-slope
metal roofs down in Georgia, and those are great, love those jobs. They look fantastic when they’re done. – Colonnade was definitely
a unique project. When we first got the call on this thing, it was a, they need a coating
applied to a slope metal roof system, and even metal roofs we do, typically don’t exceed,
at most a 212 slope, again a very walkable surface. – I helped build the safety,
they had me and Bobby go down there and said if
you guys can’t figure out a way to do it, or if it can’t be done, let us know and we won’t bid
it, and we figured it out. – Then you get a look at the height, six and nine stories, on each building, it’s just, you want me to do what? We had to be a little bit creative, not only having the
confidence that the product that we were recommending
was gonna be functioning for twenty years, because you
don’t wanna go back up there, and try to fix a leak. And the second part was, it
was a big aesthetic concern, it was a landmark in the Birmingham area, that people would say,
over by the red roofs. They referred to it,
because it’s very visible, from a couple of miles away, so it was pretty neat to be able to match that color, maintain the aesthetics, provide the warranty, and it was actually an economic solution for the owner, because at that point
they were looking at, numbers that were basically,
weren’t gonna work from a budgetary standpoint. – There was, one of the employees that we took down there,
he’s a good worker, real good worker, never worked
on pitched roofs before, and I asked him if he
was willing to try it. And we went down there and the job is not, a 712 is the lowest pitch, 90 feet in the air is the
building we started on, and they had to get up
there and start caulking. And the first day that they
all got up there caulking, with my plan in place, we
had the fall protection, we had the fall arrest in place, we had a positioning system in place, we had a guard rail system in place. But they were all crawling, because it’s a steep roof, and this one particular gentleman, was scared a little bit. Two weeks in I looked up at him, and he was standing on the
very edge of that roof, leaning back, and I asked
him when he climbed down that day, how can you do
that two weeks after just, you know, your first time ever walking in, he said, we made a plan, I
trust the plan, it works. And that is one of my favorite memories. – It’s a brotherhood,
at the end of the day, it’s a brotherhood. There’s a core of, I would call it, thirty guys, that I could literally say, I look at that guy as a brother. – I think we’re all very close-knit. I think we all work very well together. I also feel that, when you hear our name
out in the community, West Roofing, they rely on us, we’re there for our community, and for our customers. – [Jeff Johnson] It’s part of my family, West Roofing Systems. I wake up everyday, and
I really like coming and seeing the guys, they are my family. I probably see them more
than I see my family, most of the time. (laughs) – [Barney Haas] It’s family,
you got a family at home, but you almost consider this a family, because we spend more time together than we do our own families. – You know we go hunting,
we go on these trips, and we get together,
and we have a good time. And that’s what it’s about. If you don’t enjoy the people
that you’re working with, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, what’s the reason that you’re doing it? – It’s enjoyable because you get to, different atmospheres every time, you go different places,
you see different things, I mean a roof is not a
roof, a roof is, to me, in my, whatever a roof
needs, I’m gonna give it, but just to go city to
city, state to state, town to town, the different people, the different networking that you can do, it sounds crazy as a roofer, but, there is a lot of different
avenues you can have doing this job, so it
was pretty motivating to stay part of this team. – I’ve got people in this industry that I’ve known for decades. And sometimes I only
see them at these shows. But you still have that
connection with them. And it’s nice to be able to call on them when you need them, too, you know. It’s really good, it’s your
own little foam family. – It’s just one big family, so, it means a lot to me actually, personally, because I was taken in
off the street basically. I was a stray cat and I
feel like they took me in and shaped me, sculpted me the
way I needed to be sculpted. – When I started on here
I was very, I’d say, shy and introverted, and if anybody knows Dick
West, he’s the complete opposite of that, and he definitely, I think brought me out of my shell, I mean I was not able to talk to people that I didn’t know and just, he definitely made me
the man I am, I think. I give him a lot of credit for that. – I’m excited to see where we can go. In the last 32 years, 32 and a half years, we’ve went from a
company with three crews, probably a total of twenty employees. – [Brian Chavalia] When I
started there was, four of us. You know so, now there’s
close to a hundred. – We have an opportunity
to build something great, and by build, it could be
anything from an individual, to a great roof, to a great relationship. It’s being able to pass the baton on to the next generation,
with a more vibrant company, than when I started with
it, or this group of owners started with it. – I’ve been here for about two years, and I think during my time we’ve added so many new positions and
entirely new departments, and how things work, and people
that we get to work with, and I think we’re just
growing tremendously, we have a whole new location
since I’ve been here, and I just think that’s
gonna continue in the future, we’re gonna be able to do new things, and go to new areas,
and I think that’s what everyone’s excited about. – West Roofing means, it means a lot, it’s like, it’s part of my life, it’s part of my everyday thing. I want to make sure that
West Roofing’s successful, because if they fail I feel like I fail. – I’d love to see this place blow up. I mean it’s already huge now, but the more that we expand,
the bigger that we get, the better it works out for all of us. And that just, you
know, the bigger we get, it opens up more opportunities, and even opportunities out of state. – I see them growing for the better. Lot of guys here that
are willing to step up and take initiative to
try and grow this company. So I can see us making a major
step here in the near future. – I have no idea where
this company can go, with the proper leadership, and I think we have leadership in place to do it. – If we can do that, we
can do just about anything.

Comment here