Kareem Hunter is a roofer based out of Indianapolis. His company, H1 Roofing, was started a few years ago after Kareem grew tired of all the lies and deceit that he experienced as a subcontractor while dealing with illegal roofers. As a guy who prefers to avoid conflict and move past disagreements, the scammers of the industry really bothered Kareem.
“I subcontracted for ten years before I went out on my own,”
An event that propelled him toward starting his own business happened when he was down south one year.
This was after a major storm, so he and his crew were inundated with calls for jobs.
One person Kareem connected with was a man who wanted Kareem’s crew to do multiple jobs; one of the jobs called for his crew to do the roof on a huge church.
It was a great opportunity that would have represented a large payday. The man paid Kareem up front for the first, smaller job, and after feeling that he could trust the man, Kareem began working on the church without collecting a down payment.
Unfortunately, as soon as work on the church began, the client disappeared and was never heard from again, costing Kareem thousands of dollars.
Kareem guesses that there are still 10-20% of subs working right now who are still putting themselves in vulnerable positions where they may not get paid.
His advice to those guys:
“I’m not saying kiss ass, but be smart about it.”
After moving on from subbing, Kareem carved out a nice niche for himself in Indianapolis. He has found a fair amount of success as a reliable and skilled roofer, but problems still persist.
A big issue is trying to find American workers who are willing to be installers on roofs.
“We have a shortage of American workers that don’t want to do the jobs,”
Kareem says, citing various reasons such as laziness, middle-class privilege, lack of respect for the industry, and kids wanting to go to college after high school.
It’s a topic that both Kareem and Dmitry feel needs to be addressed.
Kareem estimates that 20% of the roofing labor in Indianapolis is done by illegals, and in Texas that figure might be closer to 70 or 80%.
As for his personal stance regarding using illegals for a job, Kareem is ambivalent.
He would prefer to hire employees legally, but he knows that his company, as well as many others, couldn’t survive that way. There simply aren’t enough American citizens who want to go into roofing.
Consequently, the willingness and availability of illegals for roofing jobs is so high, many companies will knowingly break the law just so they can properly staff their job site.
It’s a reality that has made many business owners a lot of money, but has also caused a large amount of pushback from homeowners who take umbrage with the nationality of the people installing their roofs.
“We don’t have enough kids in this generation who want to do this [roofing],”
Kareem admits, acknowledging that if there was legislation or a stricter stance taken on policing illegal workers, the roofing industry would greatly suffer.
The reality is that guys like Dmitry and Kareem are rare. Most young Americans these days don’t want to build their own roofing company, much less install shingles on top of one.
Kareem feels that if the younger generations knew how lucrative roofing can be, that would reverse their perceptions of the industry.
“Until these kids start realizing they can make really good money,”
“then nothing will change.”
Success is a mindset. Like Dmitry talked about in a recent video, people have to feel good about what they do. This happens only if they value their work and feel like they’re being appropriately compensated.
To get there, the culture around roofing has to change, otherwise roofing companies will continue to look toward the illegals for help on their crews.
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