The fastest growing contractor in Florida
Business View Magazine interviews Norm Dopfer President of Roman Roofing, as part of our focus on best practices in the roofing and construction sectors.
Fifteen years ago, Norm Dopfer moved from Delta, Ohio to work for a friend as a roofing salesman in Southwest Florida. After a few years’ experience and learning a lot about the industry, he quickly realized most roofing contractors did not have their own licenses and most paid the actual license holder monthly fees. They viewed their employees as expendables. Most of the roofers he worked for dealt with labor brokers who would take a large percentage and give the actual laborers a very small percentage, resulting in poor quality. Another common practice was for owners to bleed the companies dry by paying for their new toys, vacations, and often their bad habits, while consistently not being able to make payroll every other week. Dopfer understood that the bar was set so low that with his Midwest work ethic and his consciousness to want to help others, he knew he would be able to make a positive impact in the industry.
“I just couldn’t sit around and watch this happen and work for people like that,” Dopfer says. “So I started my own business.” That was a little over four years ago, when he started his new company and named it after his youngest son, Roman, who will be five years old, next June. “The first year, we did $4 million in sales; year two, $12 million; year three, $18 million; year four, $24 million. Now we are working to make the 5th year even better.”
Today, Roman Roofing, located in Cape Coral, Florida, supports over 100 employees and their families. The company has successfully installed and repaired over 6,000 roofs to date. Roman Roofing crews have adorned homes across Southwest Florida with over 14 million square feet of roofing materials, ranging from high-end architectural asphalt shingles, metal varieties, concrete, and clay tile, as well as stone-coated steel. While single-family home owners’ make-up the bread-and-butter of Roman’s clientele, the firm also practices commercial roofing, provides roof inspections, maintenance, and handles roofing repairs.
While Dopfer admits that the roofing sector is both competitive and saturated, he believes that Roman Roofing has several distinct advantages. “There are a lot of roofers here,” he states. “Everybody is fighting for territory. One thing that differentiates our company is that we were able put together an all-star team from the beginning; we’ve got a lot of awesome people in-house that have great networks that believe in what we are doing. Another big thing that differentiates us is that we are truly a family-owned and operated business. Some people say you can’t work with friends and family. I disagree. My wife runs the office/accounting side, my brother oversees all the permitting, my best friend from high school runs our commercial department and new construction, my good friend Mike runs our service department, and Mike’s son assists with production.
Another advantage the Roman brand carries in the community is that it is Cape Coral’s only certified Master Elite roofing contractor through GAF, the largest shingle manufacturer in America. Most recently, the company eclipsed 400 GAF golden-pledge warranties this year – more than any roofing contractor in Florida. Indeed, GAF’s Master Elite program is enjoyed by less than one percent of roofing contractors nationwide. “It allows us to offer our clients a 25-year ‘golden pledge’ warranty,” Dopfer explains. “The standard warranties in the industry are two or five years; every now and again you’ll get someone desperate and throwing out a ten-year warranty with no guarantee that they will be around in 10 years or longer. What GAF warranties provide is peace of mind for the homeowner. If any Master Elite Contractor goes out of business or sells the company, those warranties are in an escrow account with the Good House Keeping Seal of Approval and no matter what happens, all they have to do is call GAF and they’ll send the next closest Master Elite Contractor out to service their house, free of charge. It’s basically an insurance policy for our clients – it covers labor and materials for 25 years.”
“Another key component to our success is from our supply houses,” Dopfer points out. “We are one of the few companies that pays ours bills not just on time, but in fact, early. Obviously, we get a discount for doing so, and by doing so, we have buying power and we also have delivery power. When our production department is ordering from the supply house, they know that Roman Roofing is going to pay our bills early and consequently, they will schedule our deliveries as we need and ahead of others. So, if we have a customer that says, ‘I have my house listed for sale; We need the roof done,’ I can make a phone call and make things happen that are exceptional, typically, the next day. So fortunately, Roman has a lot of pull in that area. We give a lot of credit to Suncoast Supply. Here is a company that knows the roofing game and have a deep understanding of the material and its applications. They also know how to manage our expectations. They certainly know that the Roman team is fast-paced and high-tech, and they’re able to service us when most supply houses couldn’t keep up with our pace.”
For the first four years of its existence, Dopfer says the company did no advertising. “We relied purely on word-of-mouth from start to finish,” he states. “I was able to develop relationships with business owners and companies, and a lot of locals who have been here their entire lives by doing honest work with great craftsmanship. These groups of people are not only repeat customers, but people who are happy to give your name out because they have trust in our company. While we do have repeat customers at times, we understand the average homeowner is going to replace one roof in their lifetime. We take pride in knowing the importance in giving each customer a positive experience. With a large percentage of these customers being transplants from out of state, we realize the importance of giving them quality work with an excellent experience because most of them have friends or family who will be moving to the area and purchasing homes who will ultimately need roofing services. Roman has stayed busy throughout the slow times, just from all the referral work. Now, since we are growing, we have started a marketing campaign to get to the next level. We have a Business Development Director named Gabriel Murphy, who’s done a phenomenal job putting us on social media and building our brand through networking alike”.
Going forward, Dopfer says his goal is have Roman Roofing surpass $50 million in sales annually. “It is certainly within our reach,” he declares. “We really didn’t over extend ourselves to get here; instead, we emphasized quality workmanship and training and that’s important for us. Now, the growth that we have experienced earned us the 152nd spot on the Inc. 500 list and that’s great. But I feel we have just really begun to become a well-oiled machine. It was difficult to manage that growth in the beginning, but once we had all the right people in place, it has become much easier. With our company primarily handling residential re-roofs with less than 5 percent being new construction and commercial, we really do have the potential to increase our numbers, significantly. We are a company that changes with the times we are constantly evolving. We are working to make each aspect of our company more efficient, from the technology, training, processes, and to the building, itself. All of which will aid Roman in achieving that $50 million-a-year mark over the next three to five years.”
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AT A GLANCE
WHO: Roman Roofing
WHAT: A roofing contractor
WHERE: Cape Coral, Florida