Roofing business challenges arent entirely different from other industry’s. But an interview with a seasoned roofer can shed some light on how to overcome these specific challenges.
Roofing Insights-endorsed Nate Schweppe from Pro Exteriors Roofing & Construction in Rapid City, South Dakota has been in business for over a decade, but it wasn’t until the last few years that he began to revamp his business and turn his company into a staple of the community.
These days, Schweppe is enjoying the fruits of his labor while also continuing to tirelessly devote himself to Pro Exteriors and ensuring its continued success.
But again, the outlook of Schweppe’s roofing company was not always this bright.
“When people ask how long I’ve been in business, I tell them eleven or twelve years, but it feels like two or three because the first eight or nine years I didn’t run it like a business,”
“I just ran my roofing company like it was a job. I was on every job installing every roof. I would get some people to help me, but I would also step away to answer the phone or call people back. I was just running every single aspect of my business.”
This top-to-bottom approach from Schweppe can be attributed to his father, a man who also believes in controlling most aspects of his company.
“That’s how my dad runs his business,”
“He doesn’t do any advertising or anything like that, and he’s in his sixties and still on the job a lot.”
“That was how I developed my previous mindset. I didn’t know any different, so coming across Roofing Insights really changed the way I did things and was also a change in mindset.”
For Schweppe, learning to cede control and bring in other employees was a difficult adjustment to make, but he also knew it was a necessary one if he ever wanted to scale his business.
“Being an installer, I had always looked at the owners who didn’t get their hands dirty as if they weren’t real roofers. I had a negative view of that kind of owner, but coming across Roofing Insights content really changed my mindset, in that I’m not doing a job. I’m trying to build a business,”
Beyond just running a roofing company, Schweppe also acknowledges that roofing is a physically strenuous job, and one his body would not forever be able to withstand.
“Roofing is extremely physically demanding,”
“I remember every spring when we started shingling again that I could barely walk. My back was killing me. My body would get used to it and I would adapt, but it was also the realization that I wouldn’t be able to do manual labor at fifty years old, and that I needed to start building the business and running it like a business.”
As mentioned, in the last couple years Schweppe has taken a step back in his roofing company, which in turn has allowed his business to take two steps forward and reach new levels of success.
While this evolution has been financially rewarding for both Schweppe and his employees, attaining a new level of success has also presented a new set of challenges.
“Physically, it’s harder to be on the job, but if you’re talking about what’s more difficult [installer versus business owner], it’s not even a comparison. I tell my wife all the time that I look back on the days that I was installing and think they were easy. That was the good life. I would just go, shut my brain off, and nail on the shingles. At the end of the day you’re done and able to walk away.”
“Being tired and physically exhausted feels good, but when you are sitting behind a desk all day dealing with customers, answering emails, dealing with cash flow issues, and being mentally drained, it doesn’t feel good. It’s extremely exhausting and it doesn’t go away. It’s harder to rest and recuperate from the mental exhaustion than the physical. It is ten times harder than going out and nailing on shingles and shutting your brain off for the day. It’s no comparison.”
In addition to having to adjust his role within his company, Schweppe, like everyone else, was forced to wade through the uncertainty of 2020 brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schweppe says that in spite of the national health crisis, his business was able to flourish, and while that once again was a boon for his wallet, it also meant that he would be forced to rethink the way he was running his roofing company.
“It  was definitely our biggest year as far as revenue and profit goes, but it was challenging because there were so many new things going on,”
“We just moved into a new unit in March 2020. I hired an office manager in June 2020, and we got hit with three hailstorms. It was a huge year in terms of it being a growing experience. There were tough times, but like I told my office manager at the time: 2020 is like you telling somebody that you want to learn how to swim, but instead of them slowly teaching you, they just kick you in the deep end and you learn how to swim.”
As a result, Schweppe admits that he came up short on some home improvement projects, but as one might expect, Schweppe and Pro Exteriors also were able to persevere through hardship and come out of the roofing season with more knowledge and experience.
“We had a lot of struggles and challenges,”
“Some customers were upset we didn’t get back to them fast enough on estimates or that we didn’t get to their job quick enough. Again, 2020 was by far the most challenging year, but also the biggest year in terms of growth.”
To learn more about Nate Schweppe and Pro Exteriors, visit their website today, and don’t forget to subscribe to all of Roofing Insights’ social media channels so you never miss any of their upcoming content!