Eugene Smith is the owner of EAS Roofing, which is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Unlike some roofing contractors, Smith began working in the roofing industry at a relatively young age, securing his first position at the ripe age of eighteen.
“When I started off, I was just a laborer working for another roofing company and doing a lot of new construction,” says Smith, who then adds that he was in this position until around the time the American economy sputtered in 2008.
“I was a repair tech when the market crashed in 2008, but soon enough I became the lead service tech for that roofing company.”
Two years later, Smith then decided to bet on himself and start his own roofing company, which he promptly named EAS Roofing.
Early on, roofing jobs were scarce, but Smith embraced the humble beginnings of EAS Roofing.
“I was doing subcontracting for Home Depot and Lowe’s,” he says. “My office was underneath a set of steps in my home. I had a desk, printer, and a computer.”
As time passed, EAS Roofing slowly evolved into a mainstay among homeowners in the Pittsburgh area, resulting in Smith making enough money to purchase a building for his roofing operation.
“I bought the building because we kept outgrowing where we were at, and so we ended up with a showroom,” Smith says, in reference to his spacious office area that is open to the public.
“Getting into this building was huge because it allowed us to further expand our roofing company and give each department their own office space. This then allowed them to flourish and set new standards for our roofing company.”
Being able to create a company culture meant a lot to Smith, but he adds that without a company headquarters, sustaining a positive vibe throughout EAS Roofing might not be possible.
“When homeowners walk into EAS Roofing, they know the standards are going to be high simply because of how our building is set up,”
“Remember: homeowners are not meeting me at my house. I’m not cutting paychecks for my employees from my truck because instead those same employees are coming down to my office to collect their money.”
Smith adds that while having homeowners visit EAS Roofing headquarters isn’t an everyday occurrence, it also isn’t a rarity.
“Sometimes homeowners come down here to sign contracts or because they want to see their preferred brand of shingles in person, and having this building means they have a place to come to,” he says.
As far as generating leads and subsequent business, Smith says that his roofing company uses Angie’s List, even though the homeowner-contractor connection platform currently has a less than stellar reputation.
“We have won the Angie’s List Super Service Award since 2012. They have helped EAS Roofing grow,” Smith admits, then adding an anecdote that few roofing contractors today can relate to.
“From 2012 to 2014, my phone was ringing so much that I wasn’t able to keep up with the demand.”
While EAS Roofing doesn’t receive as many leads from Angie’s List in 2021 as they once did, the roofing company is still constantly fielding business from homeowners.
“We do a little bit of everything,” Smith says when asked to explain how EAS Roofing generates business.
“Between our truck wraps, Angie’s List, and home magazines, we stay plenty busy.”
EAS Roofing is also consistently doing roof installations because of their commitment to customer service, but their success can also be traced back to Smith’s expert advice regarding warranties on shingles.
“If I was a homeowner looking for a new roof in 2021, I would hire someone who is certified with a shingle manufacturer because that means the homeowner will get an extended warranty,” Smith explains.
“I was on the CertainTeed advisory council. Because of that, I know that most homeowners won’t need their extended warranty, but it’s nice to know that the manufacturer is backing up their roofing contractor if they’re certified.”
In addition to looking for roofing companies who offer warranties with their shingle installation, Smith also suggests that homeowners should try to find a roofing company that has a bona fide company headquarters.
“I would advise homeowners to find a local roofing contractor that has a brick-and-mortar building. That way homeowners can ensure that the roofing contractor takes his business seriously,” Smith says.
It is also crucial for homeowners to search for roofing contractors who specialize at installing certain brands of shingles because a roofer who installs every type of shingle typically doesn’t have expertise or certification with any particular brand.
“At EAS Roofing, we have been a Five-Star Selection with CertainTeed since 2013,” Smith says, before mentioning that due to the fallout from COVID-19, EAS Roofing has also added another brand of shingles to their repertoire.
“We had to get another brand of shingles because CertainTeed is only making certain colors of shingles, so we adapted and became certified with Owens Corning. We are now a preferred contractor with them as well.”
Ultimately, even though Smith and EAS Roofing have developed a solid roofing company, that still doesn’t detract from the reality that there are certain challenges that come with being a contractor in Pittsburgh.
“One of the challenges you’re going to run into in Pittsburgh is having to do wood replacements because some of the houses in this roofing market are over 100 years old,”
Smith also says that many homeowners are reticent to install ridge vents on their roofs because of their unfamiliarity with that type of roofing technology.
“When you tell homeowners that they need to install ridge vents on their roofs, you have to do a good job explaining how ridge vents will ventilate their roof,” Smith says.
“That can be challenging, but fortunately we are able to leverage our showroom and show homeowners why ridge vents are important whenever they come visit our building.”
Still, the challenges for a Pittsburgh roofing contractor don’t stop there.
“We also occasionally run into under-ventilated roofs and will have to change the way the house is ventilated,” Smith states.
“For example, slate roofs naturally breathe by themselves, so when we are tearing off a roof and installing synthetic underlayment, there won’t be enough ventilation in that roof. This means that we have to add products like edge vent to balance that ridge vent effect.”
This level of expert knowledge has allowed Smith to elevate EAS Roofing, but more importantly, Smith has also routinely displayed a first-class work ethic which played a major role in his roofing business achieving success.
“If you want to do something, you can do it. You just have to put your mind to it,” Smith says.
“When I got started in the roofing industry, I wanted to make sure that EAS Roofing was doing things differently and providing opportunity to the individuals who helped my roofing company succeed.”
That last part is key because Smith admits that without the support of his talented and loyal employees, EAS Roofing just wouldn’t be the same.
“I didn’t just start my roofing company overnight,”
“It took a lot of team effort to build EAS Roofing into what it is today.”
Lastly, while there are many factors behind the success of EAS Roofing, perhaps one overlooked aspect is the human element to roofing.
Of course, treating employees with kindness is important, but empathy and humility also go a long way.
“As a roofing business owner, you have to learn how to be a roofer and show respect for the crews who are working for you. If you don’t have respect for the people who are up on the roof every day, then you’re going to go through a lot of employees,” Smith warns.
“That’s why when you find good help, keep it.”
To learn more about Eugene Smith and EAS Roofing, visit their website today or give them a call at 412-844-2171!