Satisfaction, quality, longevity
Business View Magazine interviews Scott Kawulok, Vice President of B&M Roofing, for our focus on the U.S. Construction Sector
Celebrating 75 years in business this year, B&M Roofing continues forging a proud legacy of service to its valuable clients. Established in 1947 in Fort Collins, Colorado with just one truck to its name, B&M Roofing has since expanded to serve the majority of the state, as well as those surrounding it, by prioritizing quality customer service. Originally founded by John Blakeslee and Mike Michaels, B&M Roofing owes some of its early growth to strong connections within the immigrant community.
“Michaels was a Polish immigrant, as was my grandfather, who was based in Casper and mostly building smaller commercial properties,” Scott Kawulok, Vice President of B&M Roofing, explains. “Through the immigrant network, he started using B&M Roofing to do a lot of the roofing on the buildings he was working on. Subsequently, my grandfather asked Michaels and Blakeslee if he could open up a second B&M Roofing outlet in Boulder. They said “yes” and the company’s expansion had begun.”
Initially, these two B&M Roofing outlets were actually operating under different ownership but with the same name. However, as the company grew further, expanding into Denver and other parts of Colorado, Kawulok’s father and grandfather bought out Michaels and Blakeslee in Fort Collins, reunifying the separate B&M Roofing entities. Despite changing hands and growing substantially, B&M Roofing continues to operate as a family-oriented business to this day.
“We have around 120 full-time employees,” Kawulok says. “The majority of those are field employees but we have about 25 members of staff based in the office. It doesn’t feel like a corporate environment at all. Growing up, I worked in the business, mowing the lawn and doing some landscaping from when I was about 12 and my father was running the company. Although my role has changed a lot since then, the company doesn’t feel that different.”
The services offered by B&M Roofing are a little more extensive than in its earliest years, however. The company has four departments, with low-slope commercial roofing making up around 50 to 60 per cent of its total business. Sheet metal roofing and steep-slope roofing also make up significant parts of its output. “Most of what we do in the commercial market involves multi-family or single-owner apartment complexes,” Kawulok notes. “And we also do a lot of single-family home roof replacements, but very little new construction for single-family homes. In general, we do all sorts of roofing, including waterproofing and restoration of heritage properties.”
As well as offering a broad range of roofing services, locally, B&M Roofing also serves customers over a large area. The company is happy to work all across Colorado and even operates in the adjoining states. This flexibility is one of the reasons why the firm has been able to build up such a strong customer base.
“We receive a lot of repeat business,” Kawulok continues. “Probably around 60 to 80 percent of our work is with people that we’ve done business with before. We consistently work with a select group of general contractors and we understand our niche. Our best fit is with clients that are willing to spend a little bit more to have a higher level of service. We are competitively priced, but we don’t get involved in a race to the bottom.”
Of course, B&M Roofing had to adapt just like every other business when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Fortunately, the construction industry in Colorado was largely exempt from the kinds of economic shutdowns that affected other sectors. Even so, several adjustments had to be made to the company’s usual ways of working.
“We adopted web-based applications and added more safety protocols around things like mask-wearing, hand washing, and reduced car-pooling,” Kawulok says. “Initially, when the pandemic first emerged, one of the worst aspects was around uncertainty – how bad were things going to get? Fortunately, we managed to come through the crisis largely unscathed as a business.”
But while most industries are seeing a return to some kind of normality, the construction sector continues to be impacted by supply chain disruptions that look set to linger for some time yet. “We went from being part of a supply chain that could get you almost anything you wanted within seven to 28 days, to suddenly waiting around 180 days for some items,” Kawulok admits. “Navigating this shift was extremely challenging. The roofing industry would typically see price escalation of, perhaps, three to five percent from time to time, but prices were largely stable. The disruption we are continuing to experience has caused some prices to skyrocket.”
Fortunately, B&M Roofing has been able to secure additional warehouse space near its office to ensure it could store extra supplies in the event of supply chain disruption. Even so, while the company has been able to successfully acquire the materials it needs for most smaller projects, larger projects remain difficult to complete.
“I think we are going to have these issues through the entirety of 2022 and even in the early part of 2023,” Kawulok admits. “Similar to what we saw with consumer items like toilet paper in the early stage of the pandemic, panic buying has exacerbated shortages in the construction industry. Firms might place duplicate orders, for example, to ensure that they can acquire a particular material. Of course, this makes problems around acquiring parts much worse.”
Despite these recent issues, the construction industry continues to boast a strong community spirit, with numerous firms willing to engage in partnerships to generate wider growth. B&M Roofing, for instance, has benefited from some excellent collaborations with the likes of Carlisle SynTec Systems, a leader in commercial single-ply roofing, and CSL West, an independent representative of numerous construction products in multiple states.
WPFLI is another valued partner. Kawulok shares, “We’ve worked with WPFLI for close to 30 years. Our relationship goes back to the time before they were acquired by WPFLI and were known as Bauerle. They have been remarkable advisors regarding financial and tax compliance matters. Their principals and staff are consistently professional, responsive, and perceptive. They provide these services to several construction and specialty trade organizations and are able to provide us with an abundant perspective on the marketplace. This has allowed us to adjust our business strategy to take advantage of opportunities and avoid difficulties. They have formed trusting friendships and a true partnership with us that is not transactional.”
B&M Roofing also has a long-time relationship with Moody that goes back to the late ‘90s or early 2000s. According to Kawulok, “They are constantly working behind the scenes to provide us with exceptional insurance and bonding services. They’ve consistently helped us manage our general liability, workmen’s comp., & auto lines effectively – successfully shielding and insulating us from negative market conditions. The company is made up of really good people. They support the construction industry and understand the difficulties and daily challenges contractors face. They don’t hesitate to jump in to help us manage any struggles and provide invaluable advice and a sounding board for ideas and directions we are looking to pursue.”
The strong focus on relationships has helped B&M Roofing excel over the past 75 years, especially through the current supply chain crisis and the pandemic, generally. Kawulok emphasizes, “Even when people were worried about what was going to happen with the economy, we had individuals that still wanted to get work done and trusted us to do it. Now that we need materials and supplies, we are able to leverage those relationships to get our projects completed. That’s been a big part of how we’ve been able to maintain a level of success within these challenging market conditions.”
Over the next three to five years, B&M Roofing wants to continue strengthening these relationships in order to fulfil its future expansion plans. “We are striving to grow our level of service, our level of quality, and our level of professionalism,” Kawulok notes. “We are committed to successfully delivering difficult projects that other contractors can’t. If we continue to do that, business growth will follow.”
Although like all companies, B&M Roofing wants to be successful from a financial standpoint, some of the projects that the company is proudest of are those where it has been able to deliver a quality finished product that is going to perform for a long time for its clients. “Some of my favorite projects have certainly been those where it’s clear we delivered something that our competition couldn’t from a customer satisfaction, quality, and longevity standpoint.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: A provider of quality roofing services throughout Colorado and adjoining states
Where: Headquartered in Frederick, Colorado
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