L.A. Roofing Materials Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Dave Gushee
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 1982 the husband and wife team of Don and Jeanne Gardner established L.A. Roofing Materials Inc. (LARM). The company is a family tradition for the Gardners; Don grew up in the industry and worked in the roofing supply business for many years before co-owning and managing a company. Roughly a decade later, he decided to branch out on his own.
Steve Gardner, Don and Jeanne’s son and now president of LARM, has been with the business full-time since 1991, starting as general manager. Steve worked in project management and architecture before joining, and eventually taking over, the family business. Don and Jeanne are still involved in the business and maintain a hands-on approach to company ownership.
LARM is dedicated to providing area roofing contractors with high-quality materials and superior service. The LARM team of 19 people employs a specialized inventory system, buying and storing products that meet the needs of customers. The company offers on-site delivery of materials and prioritizes convenience and communication in all transactions. Roofing contractors in Los Angeles continue to choose LARM for a broad range of applications. The company has been selected to supply the materials for everything from small, residential reroofing projects to overhauls of local sports stadiums.
The business operates from a single location in downtown Los Angeles. Customers, such as general contractors, subcontractors and property owners, can find a wide range of roofing and waterproofing products.
“We strive to stay abreast of changes and trends in the industry and bring in products to meet the needs of our customers,” Steve explains. “Our expertise allows us to partner with contractors and help them with materials, project management, estimating, reviewing plans, paper work and the submittal process. We realize that a small delay can compromise the job’s profitability.”
One of the largest growing trends on the market is cool roofing products. As required by California’s Title 24 for building energy efficiency standards, these innovative materials reflect solar heat, keeping it out of a building environment. A lower temperature inside of a building means that air conditioning systems do not have to work as hard to cool buildings, saving significant energy, reducing cooling costs for tenants and lowering related emissions. LARM also sells roof coatings that perform the same function.
One of the company’s signature projects has been contributing to the reroofing of the Inglewood Forum. “We provided the materials, delivery and staging for work on this venue, where the Lakers used to play,” Steve details. “The facility was sold by the company that had it, and then the following owner did not keep up with the repairs and maintenance. Eventually Madison Square Garden bought it and now they are resurrecting it.” The project was completed in January 2014.
LARM has contributed to several high-profile projects, some of which have even won awards. The team’s work on historical buildings in Los Angeles, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, attracted attention for safety procedures. The business was also recognized for safety with work for the Los Angeles Unified School District and other municipalities.
The greatest challenge LARM has faced in recent years has been changes in regulations. With environmental requirements, rising costs of transportation and government regulations, business as usual has become a little more challenging. The team has also seen an influx of larger, national conglomerate suppliers.
To help offset these challenges, LARM maintains a strong partnership with NEMEON, a national supplier cooperative that helps local businesses buy, sell and invest with an advantage. The purchasing cooperative formed in 1999 with the simple goal of boosting purchasing power for smaller, independent roofing suppliers. This heightened purchasing power allows LARM to compete on the same playing field as nationwide distributors.
The economy is on the rise and Steve and his team see real potential in the coming years for growth in the industry. “The biggest issue is that there are a lot of distributors who want to sell the same kind of products we do,” he explains. “There are not as many, though, who can meet the needs of customers while putting money back into that customer’s pocket.”
Steve and the LARM team are nothing but optimistic. “We are holding steady,” Steve adds. “We have trucks on the road and we are making money.”
In the coming years, the team is looking for growth at approximately 20 percent. Steve plans a more aggressive sales approach and is looking into new ways to improve purchasing power. Through all of the changes over the last 32 years, a few things will always remain the same: L.A. Roofing Materials Inc. is dedicated to quality roofing products and service that customers come back for time and again.
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