Kulp’s of Stratford LLC
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Lindsay Jeffries
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 1985, Bob Kulp founded a small, specialty roof coating company, Kulp’s Coatings. The business took off quickly and within two years, Bob had added general roofing construction services and roof membranes to the mix of products and services. In 1987, he changed the company’s name to Kulp’s Coatings and Construction to better reflect his team’s capabilities. In 1992, the name changed again to Kulp’s of Stratford LLC (KOS).
“I chose this name so that I wouldn’t self-limit the product and service changes that might come over the years,” Bob explains. “We also wanted our identity to serve as the premise for building a strong local brand. Now, we perform roofing, spray foam and solar panel installation.” Bob works with a team of 45 employees with an office in Stratford and a showroom in Wausau, Wisc. The team has worked all over the state, performing unique roof construction and related services for a diverse market.
Over the years, KOS has continued to diversify. The company offers a variety of construction services to help building owners keep buildings in top condition. The team performs a broad range of custom roofing projects including standing seam steel, copper, stone-coated steel shingles, shakes and tiles, asphalt shingles, copper and stainless steel shingles, clay and concrete tiles, wood shakes and shingles, recycled and composite shingles and tiles and thermoplastic membranes for all types of roofing customers.
Customers can count on KOS for other home and building improvement services as well. The crew also performs spray-foam insulation installation to improve home energy performance. KOS also offers a wide range of consulting services to help homeowners improve home performance, negotiate insurance claims and plan a home improvement project.
Roughly a third of business for KOS is residential work. The rest is split evenly between institutional and commercial work. One of the company’s specialty markets is local churches and the team is highly experienced in steep-slope work. “We just finished some steeples and crosses in Chippewa Falls, Wisc., which featured a stainless gold finish,” Bob notes. “We have also recently done two copper domes on county courthouses in the state.”
The team has proven itself capable of tackling such projects. “Right now we are doing an old courthouse that has been operating as a historical society building for the last 30 years,” he continues. “They need a new roof. One of the most interesting projects I’ve been involved with has been a Replica of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello that was built in a hospital complex. It was a full-size replica and we performed the steep-slope roofing on the project.
“Another challenging project for us building wall panels for the Federal Courthouse in New Mexico,” he adds. “In terms of dynamics and strategy, this was a really unique project. We fabricated all of the panels and sent them down there.”
“We set ourselves apart through service, quality and attention to detail,” Bob explains. “Our team is process-oriented and customer-focused.” Bob also serves as the vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRC), offering an advanced level of expertise and familiarity with the industry and his market. He recently hosted a webinar on customer service for the NRCA, which will be used widely in the national and international roofing industry.
KOS is in a pattern of steady growth. Bob explains that the recent economic downturn did not present any unusual challenges to his market. “We didn’t have a huge problem in the roofing industry here in the upper-Midwest,” he elaborates. “In 2012, we were actually recognized as the Small Business of the Year in Wausau, Wisc. Some challenges were making sure our costs were in line, but we were still making a profit.”
Diversification continues to be a theme for the business. Over the last few years, the company has expanded into the solar panel market. “This was a great move for us,” Bob notes. “We have been fortunate. Our management team is really strong and we have great employees. Repeat business and referrals help us maintain a steady work flow. Everything is driven by systems and processes, such as emails and customized proposals. We do all work in-house except for gutters. Commitment to work is big here and we have very dedicated employees.”
In the coming years, Bob and his team are looking forward to new opportunities in the market. He foresees a continued growth in new construction. While most of the company’s work is on existing buildings, KOS has capabilities to match just about any roofing project. “We’ll stay within our same line of work,” he explains. “My brother, John, serves as company president and he and I are happy to stick to what our team is good at. We are not looking to expand too quickly. Right now we are looking at three to 5 percent growth each year, which is sustainable for us.”
With a high level of quality control, KOS continues to perform work on a repeat basis with existing customers while attracting new contracts. “We are proud of our ability to meet our customers’ needs,” he explains. “We enjoy solving problems, whether related to roofing or other aspects of a project.” This trend of creative thinking and constant evolution continue to carry Kulp’s of Stratford LLC into new relationships throughout Wisconsin.
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