Roofing's Next Generation: 2020 Edition

Forging Ahead with Technology

Angie Lewis, Writer
Reading Time: 9 minutes
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Whether they take over the family business, want to start their own company or decide to change careers, some roofers are nailing their success at an early age.

Following the 2018 and 2019 versions of our next-generation series, this year’s edition highlights six more roofing contractors, 35 and younger, who are building their legacies in the industry.

Even before COVID-19 forced most companies to resort to online operations, these guys were already taking advantage of the benefits of technology. Read how they’re using the virtual world to help grow their businesses, stay in touch with customers and keep up employee morale.

We will be posting each of our six featured contractors individually over the next six weeks, so stay tuned to see who's next!


Attaining Aspirations

Erik Mattsson

Erik Mattsson

Owner, Mattsson Roofing & Restoration (Glen Rock, NJ)

Whether it be reaching a revenue milestone, hitting a 5-minute pace in a mile or improving his interaction abilities with people, Erik Mattsson is passionate about self-improvement. He loves setting personal and professional goals and then designing systems or altering habits to reach those goals.

Q. When did you begin adapting technology into your business?
A: Before I started my own roofing company in 2018, I worked at a Storm Guard franchise where the owner of the franchise was from the tech industry. He had helped pioneer LimeWire and other tech startups, so he was very keen on utilizing technology in an industry (roofing) that still seemed to be populated with pencil-and-paper dinosaurs. So when I opened my own doors, I knew how much value tech could add.

Q. What measures did you take to ensure your roofing business could remain operational during COVID-19?
A: Like everyone else, we masked up and gloved up when entering into any occupied property and switched over to Zoom meetings when presenting and consulting with customers regarding projects for their home. One thing COVID forced us to do is get creative with our estimate process. We utilized many more pictures with captions and videos to demonstrate to customers the condition of their roof and how we could make it better.

Q. How have you used technology to maintain employee morale during COVID-19?
A: Technology was part of the way we addressed morale. It let us be productive and remain connected with fellow employees and our customers despite being virtual. On rainy days when business [was] slower, we would also have our employees come to a central location for educational or organizational days, while observing social distance requirements. Morale is an important contributor to making progress, and progress is an important contributor to good morale. Since COVID forced us to change our ways, we have also embraced employees to have “office days” from home, and we have not noticed any drop in productivity since. We will likely keep this feature of our company moving forward.

Q. Where do you see your roofing business in 10 years? How do you think/hope technology will evolve between now and then?
A: This is a question that keeps me up at night. We, as a society, have experienced so much rapid change in the last 10 years, and many small businesses have been unable to adapt. I always dread the thought of a company like Amazon or Google getting involved in the trades and bodying out contractors that have made roofing/construction their livelihood. My hope is that technology makes roofing easier and safer but allows roofing owners and workers to continue to build wealth and perform an honest day’s work.

Q. If you hadn’t become a professional contractor, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
A: That’s a good question. I like people and I like understanding people’s needs, so likely something in sales. Maybe a role in politics or government — not necessarily an elected official — but something that involves human interaction. I could also see myself as a history teacher or journalist.

Click here to read Erik Mattsson’s full interview.


Crew Conductor

Harrison Hodges

Harrison Hodges

Co-owner, Hodges Brothers Roofing (Orlando, FL)

Harrison Hodges loves to get his hands dirty and works as many jobs as he can. Demanding integrity and quality control, he manages his crews like an orchestra to ensure that every job is done right.

Q. When did you begin adapting technology into your business?
A: We began incorporating more tech initially with aerial measurements. This allowed us to give customers quicker estimates and cut down on material waste. Additionally, we started to send customers shingle boards via email and showcase the different colors on our website/social media.

Q. What measures did you take to ensure your roofing business could remain operational during COVID-19?
A: The most important step we took as a company to remain [operational] throughout quarantine was the fact that we prepare in times of harvest for times of famine. Every small business owner knows that there are slow times and it is important to prepare financially to keep their employees working and paid. We treat our employees like family and, aside from their financial well-being, we implemented PPE to ensure their safety on the job. In fact, the PPE Atlas sent us was put to good use.

Q. How have you used technology to maintain employee morale during COVID-19?
A: We have initiated contactless estimating and really showcased our work recently by building up our social media presence. This keeps both our clients and employees engaged, as they know their product is out there to be appreciated. And the more clients we reach with social media advertising, the more positive work flow they have.

Q. If you hadn’t become a professional contractor, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
A: I would be trading stocks on the floor of Wall Street, pushing my way through the ocean of traders and enjoying a career where a/c was involved.

Q. What are some of your hobbies?
A: [Hobby-wise], I enjoy fitness, movies, travel, trying new places to eat and weekend getaways.

Click here to read Harrison Hodges’ full interview.


Promised Punctuality

Jody Frierson

Jody Frierson

Owner, Frierson Construction & Roofing (Oxford, MS)

Jody Frierson prides himself on his punctuality and attributes it as the main reason for the success of his business. He believes customers value someone who shows up on time and completes the job in the quoted timeframe.

Q. When did you begin adapting technology into your business?
A: I would say 3 to 4 years ago. A friend who is an adjuster introduced EagleView to me and I now use it on almost every bid because of the amount of time it saves.

Q. What measures did you take to ensure your roofing business could remain operational during COVID-19?
A: We utilized social distancing when meeting with potential clients.

Q. Where do you see your roofing business in 10 years? How do you think/hope technology will evolve between now and then?
A: My goal is to be the top roofing company in Northern Mississippi and Southwest Tennessee.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A: I love that I’m not confined to an office or desk all day and that every day is different and brings a new set of challenges. I also enjoy meeting new customers and networking to get referrals and seeing a happy customer with our finished product.

Q. If you hadn’t become a professional contractor, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
A: I would probably still be working as a real estate broker.

Click here to read Jody Frierson’s full interview.


Master Mentor

Christopher Castillo

Christopher Castillo

Owner, Castillo & Co. Professional Roofing (Harlingen, TX)

Committed to finding, training and mentoring the next generation, Christopher Castillo is on a mission to raise awareness among local high school and college students about the tremendous career potential available in the roofing industry.

Q. When did you begin adapting technology into your business?
A: When my wife, Lindsey, and I began Castillo and Co., we started adapting technology at the very earliest stages of our business. As a team, we understood that bringing modern technologies and systems to our processes would be key to our success and efficiency.

Q. What measures did you take to ensure your roofing business could remain operational during COVID-19?
A: The decisions we made early on from our Atlas partnership, distribution partnerships and CRM systems made a tremendous impact on our ability to maintain tempo while adjusting.

Castillo and Co. transitioned to a 100% paperless and virtual sales system overnight and utilized drones to minimize property traffic during the shutdown. Our sales team utilized video conferencing platforms, as well as emailed video messages to keep clients updated.

Q. How have you used technology to maintain employee morale during COVID-19?
A: Lindsey and I are blessed with a very cohesive team. Luckily, our CRM platform allowed us to communicate as if we were still centrally located in the office. Our team also hosted near-daily video conferences to brief and debrief on the day.

Q. Where was your last vacation? Was it hard to disconnect from your phone, computer, etc.?
A: Our last vacation was at South Padre Island [TX]. Learning how to unwind is always a difficult point for business owners. I credit our solid team of forward thinkers for allowing us to step away with confidence.

Q. What are you passionate about — personally and professionally?
A: I am passionate about seeing others succeed. I think mentoring is a lost concept in our society and it brings me great joy to mentor and to be mentored. There is so much that can be learned by sharing experiences and wisdom.

Click here to read Christopher Castillo’s full interview.