The Kirberg Company has been a fixture in downtown St. Louis, Mo., for more than 90 years, offering customers throughout the Midwest, including those in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois, the latest technologically advanced roofing, restoration and waterproofing options for four generations. Founded by Charles Kirberg in 1920, the firm has remained family-owned over the years, and today Charles’ grandson Doug Kirberg is the president. With a number of Fortune 500 companies, hospitals, schools and other businesses as repeat clients, Kirberg Company has succeeded due to the quality of its work, which can be attributed to adherence to the company motto: “Old-World Craftsmanship + Tomorrow’s Technology.”
A Portable Solar Roof?
The firm, which over time has expanded to roughly 100 employees with satellite offices in Kansas City, Kan., and Springfield, Mo., not only offers a comprehensive array of roof repair and metal roofing services, but it also leads the region in promoting green technology and solar paneling for roofing systems. In August of 2010 the professionals at Kirberg became the first company in the United States to successfully design and build a removable solar roofing system, provided for Energy Systems Group in Evansville, Ind.
The system is made up of 36 Flexlight PVL 136 panels that encompass 7,500 square feet – roughly one half of the roof’s total square footage. The photovoltaic panels can generate over 5000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, which is enough to run Energy Systems’ backup file servers. Kirberg attached the solar panels to the business’s existing metal roof with a modified version of Velcro, which means that if the company ever decides to relocate to another building, their roofing system will come along with them.
“We’ve always had an active interest in solar roofing and its numerous benefits,” Eric Kirberg, the company’s vice president, explains. “And after all these years of laying the groundwork for a removable option, we finally got the opportunity to bring our ideas to fruition. We are so excited about the possibilities this technology can offer owners of flat-roof commercial buildings. And we can’t wait to expand this type of construction and help share the benefits of removable solar roofing with companies nationwide.”
Construction industry trade associations have recognized Kirberg’s exceptional work. The St. Louis chapter of the Associated General Contractors has awarded Kirberg the Construction Keystone award twice, in 1998 and in 2006. The firm is also a five-time winner of the American Subcontractors Association’s Safety Award, highlighting Kirberg’s longstanding commitment to safety.
Kirberg is also one of the founding members of RoofConnect, a roofing trade organization made up of over 60 independent commercial roofing companies throughout the U.S. The association is dedicated to giving each of its members access to a network of resources, services, technology, and information sharing that will improve the industry as a whole.
Attracting Better Employees
The Kirberg Company has become renowned for its comprehensive options, which range from classic slate and tile, modern synthetic slate and architectural shingles for residential all the way to metal to EPDM and TPO membrane systems. The company is fully versed in new roof construction, roof restoration, roof replacement, maintenance and emergency repair, as well as implementing all manner of reflective, vegetative and energy-generating technologies.
In Eric Kirberg’s opinion, one of the biggest keys to the company’s success throughout these many sectors can be found in the people that they hire. “We’ve always been on the front end of equipment and places to work. Everything is at the guys’ fingertips, so we attract better employees. On average, people stay with us for around 20 years. Our guys are unionized, which means they’ve been through four years of training, so they’re better trained than our competitors. We can rely on them to build relationships with our customers, who are typically Fortune 500 companies.”
Having an impressive client roster has not meant the Kirberg Company has completely avoided the recent air of economic uncertainty, however. The economic recession has changed the way the company attracts new business, but it has also shown another way in which the Kirberg Company astutely implements new technologies. “We had been doing a lot of traditional name-branding types of advertising over the last couple of years, and when the market collapsed we pulled a lot of that advertising. We instead decide to focus on a smarter way to advertise; less banner advertising, and paying for clicks, and more written articles and blogs,” says Kirberg.
Another way the company keeps its name in the public domain and gives back to the local businesses that have made the firm a success is through community involvement. For more than 30 years, Kirberg has sponsored a golf tournament and fundraiser for the Wyman Center, a local non-profit that aids underprivileged teens. Kirberg also publicly supports the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boy Scouts’ Scouting for Food Drive.
Looking towards the future, Kirberg is excited about where the company is headed. “I think we’re moving into a period with explosive growth. There’s a lot of pent-up demand and the larger companies have been hoarding their cash throughout the recession. Now that things are starting to ease up a bit, they’re going to start updating their buildings, or moving to new facilities, which means a lot of growth is coming our way.”
Under the leadership of the Kirberg family, the Kirberg Company is an example of how blending old-fashioned quality with cutting-edge technology is a recipe for success.
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