Asphalt Life

Roofing's Next Generation: 2019 Edition

Driving Change In The Industry

Angie Lewis, Writer
Reading Time: 8 minutes
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Roofing is a $49 billion business in the U.S., operating with more than 100,000 companies across the nation. Although the competition can be stiff, the next generation of contractors isn’t worried.

Last year's article featured 11 young, ambitious roofers who, by age 30, have already achieved great success in their careers. In the second part, we’re spotlighting 10 more rising stars, all under 35, who are on a mission to better the industry while realizing their dreams.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be revealing each contractor one by one (see preview below). Stay tuned!

Their Word Is Their Bond

Steven Ragsdale | Atlas Pro™ Plus Silver Contractor
Owner, Blacksmith Roofing (Tulsa, OK)

Steven Ragsdale was managing an apartment complex in a career he wasn’t passionate about — until a friend introduced him to roofing. After working in the field for a few years, the 28-year-old started his own company, which he now shares with his business partner, Preston Davis. Ragsdale attributes his success to keeping his word and treating people like family.

Q. What do you bring to the business that others may not?
A. We build real relationships with our customers. Many of our customers have become hunting buddies, close friends and church members. This comes from honesty and always being available.

Q. Is there anything about the industry that you’d like (or hope) to change?
A. Just the overall stigma of homeowners, realtors and insurance agents thinking that all roofers are the same. There are a lot of great roofing companies and we all need to work together to make this environment a lot healthier.

Q. What’s your most memorable project to date, and why?
A. Doing the roof for the stunt double for the main female character in Terminator 2. She also was in Rush Hour 2, on M.A.S.H. for five years and a couple of other movies. It was awesome to pick her brain on celebrities and what it was like to be a stunt double!

Q. Are you involved in any charity work, professionally or personally? If so, for which organization(s) and in what capacity?
A. Not a specific charity, but we pull money back from every job that goes to our local church to help with funding churches and playgrounds in Kenya, Africa. We have done one church and one playground so far. Many more to come!

Q. If you weren’t a roofer, in what other profession do you think you’d be working, and why?
A. I’m not really sure. Being a college dropout and being blessed to find this career has been a miracle. I think that if I had to have an answer, I would probably start another business. More than likely a pawn shop. Ha! Whatever it is, it would be in dealing with people and meeting others.

Preston Davis | Atlas Pro™ Plus Silver Contractor
Owner, Blacksmith Roofing (Tulsa, OK)

Thirty-five-year-old Preston Davis has been in the construction field his whole life. He says he started his own business to provide well-paying jobs to others. Two years ago, Davis teamed up with his friend Steven Ragsdale. Together, they plan to grow their business and become the most trustworthy roofing company in their community.

Q. How did you grow your company into the success it is now?
A. It’s honestly the simplest answer ever. Treating people like they actually matter and are worth something. Not chasing the dollars.

Q. What do you like about working in the roofing industry?
A. I love changing people’s minds about the roofing community. There’s a very negative stigma about roofers out there and it’s easy for us to overcome with how we connect with our customers.

Q. What do you bring to the business that others may not?
A. Ironclad ethics. We stand behind every single thing we do. We don’t plan on going anywhere. We plan on being available for many years to come for our current and future customers.

Q. What’s your most memorable project to date, and why?
A. We helped a church with an insurance claim. They had several bids and were planning to pay out of an allocated church fund. We were able to get insurance to cover everything and the church used those funds elsewhere.

Q. If you weren’t a roofer, in what other profession do you think you’d be working, and why?
A. More than likely I’d become a local police officer or EMT. There are so many reasons. The biggest for me personally is serving those in need.


Growth Factor

John DeLaurier | Atlas Pro™ Plus Silver Contractor
Owner, DeLaurier Roofing and Renovation (Watkinsville, GA)

John DeLaurier started roofing at age 13, working on mission trips. The 34-year-old loves working with people and providing solutions to problems. He says being a business owner has always been a part of who he is.

Q. How did you grow your company into the success it is now?
A. Always, always, always treating people with honesty and respect. Customers, subcontractors, employees, suppliers. Also, constantly reading and listening to podcasts in order to grow personally and professionally.

Q. What are your business growth plans three to five years down the road?
A. We want to grow between 15 percent to 25 percent each year, and profit will always be the focus. We plan on growing the commercial side of the business too.

Q. Is there anything about the industry that you’d like (or hope) to change?
A. [The requirement of] a roofing license in Georgia — ASAP. Also, a requirement for all roofing contractors to carry general liability and workers’ comp insurance.

Q. What motivates you to go to work every day (besides income)?
A. Being challenged in new ways and keeping my employees and subcontractors working.

Q. Are you involved in any charity work, professionally or personally? If so, for which organization(s) and in what capacity?
A. We are partnering with a local charity that helps young pregnant women have a place to stay during their pregnancy.


A Born Entrepreneur

Cade Lewis | Atlas Pro™ Plus Platinum Contractor
Owner, Precise Roofing (Bixby, OK)

From the time he was a kid with a lawnmower asking all the neighbors if they needed their yards mowed, Cade Lewis had an entrepreneurial spirit. The 32-year-old recalls hearing horror stories from his mom, a real estate agent, about unreliable and untrustworthy roofing contractors. The next thing he knew, he was on roofs learning everything he could, equipped with his work ethic and desire to help people in need.

Q. How did you grow your company into the success it is now?
A. It started at my home office working very long hours into the night, every night. I did [everything] myself to avoid overhead and save the money to grow. I also did a lot of research on other companies nationwide and their strategies that may be different than my local competitors. I spent countless hours figuring out how to separate myself from the competition and still do. I read many articles and watched videos on successful business owners and their philosophies. At the end of the day, it takes hard work. I give it 110 percent every day. My motto is: “If you’re not growing, you're dying.”

Q. What do you like about working in the roofing industry?
A. I like being able to help people get a quality product over their head to help protect their families. I like meeting and talking to new people. I’ve met a lot of different walks of life in this industry. It’s a blast.

Q. What do you bring to the business that others may not?
A. Urgency. Many companies will put you off until the next day or won’t return your call for three days. Customers like when someone can make them feel they are important. I like to treat others like I would want to be treated — that is, fairly and with integrity.

Q. What’s your most memorable project to date, and why?
A. A nursing home remodel project. The look on their faces when we were done was priceless.

Q. Are you involved in any charity work, professionally or personally? If so, for which organization(s) and in what capacity?
A. We volunteer work and support the Special Olympics event. We also personally are involved with the local outreach center and help sponsor the annual foster kids’ Christmas party. This is always personally rewarding to see the kids with all the presents.


The complete series will include: