- Written by: Eric Gundberg
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
George and Gloria Smeja are an inspiring example of what can happen when enterprising entrepreneurs believe that they can make a difference, which is what the Smeja’s did by launching a family-owned company whose success has exceeded even their own expectations.
Metalmaster Roofmaster (Metalmaster), one of the nation’s largest commercial sheet metal and roofing contractors, was started in 1977 by the husband and wife team of the Smejas. As the company grew, it moved into the Smeja’s garage from the basement of their home, and eventually became successful enough to move to a separate location. Today, the company is located in a 100,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility in McHenry, Ill., which was custom-built to handle Metalmaster’s day-to-day operations, giving it the perfect vantage point to complete projects throughout Chicago.
Metalmaster currently employs approximately 150 personnel, but unfortunately, the much-loved Gloria is no longer one of them; she passed away in 2011. Since George retired over 20 years ago, the Smeja’s two sons, Michael and Daniel, have been successfully guiding the company.
Michael explains why Metalmaster became a success over the years. “My father could do steeples and beautiful elaborate-type work. He had the great talent of taking a flat sheet of metal and transforming into a work of art. He was very good at his trade and it’s this idea of craftsmanship Metalmaster Roofmaster was founded on.”
The Smeja family established the company’s reputation in the region through high-quality work and well-developed relationships with both clients and vendors.
Rock Smeja, George and Gloria’s grandson and director of marketing for Metalmaster, elaborates, “We work with a lot of the same clients. Repeat and referral business is our bread and butter, and we do whatever it takes to make our customers satisfied. We also take our vendor relationships very seriously. We’ve been working with Berridge Manufacturing, Firestone Building Products and many others for almost 30 years.”
With an outstanding reputation for quality and the ability to custom fabricate parts in its 70,000-square foot manufacturing and warehouse portion of the facility, Metalmaster crews have worked on a wide variety of high-profile projects. One of Chicago’s most famous landmarks is the Buckingham Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world, featuring 134 jets powered by three pumps. “We lined the inner basin of the fountain with lead during a general restoration project in the early ’90s,” reveals Rock. Metalmaster has also worked on the roofs of some of Chicago’s other landmarks including Solider Field, Navy Pier and a large number of museums and high-rises.
High-profile projects draw a lot of attention to a company, but it’s Metalmaster’s day-to-day work with area retailers, churches, banks and automobile dealerships that have made the company a success.
Never Consider Using Any Other Company
Pastor Gregory Dickow, head of Life Changers International Church, had this to say about his church’s experience working with Metalmaster, “I have never worked with a contractor that has more integrity, professionalism and commitment to excellence than Metalmaster Roofmaster. They have always gone above and beyond the call of duty. Throughout the project they provided value-added engineering solutions, never compromised on quality and always provided the most competitive pricing. All of that to say, I would never consider using any other company for sheet metal and roofing needs.”
Metalmaster’s owners ensure that safety is not just a buzz word in the boardroom. The company employs a full time safety director, five person safety committee to regularly review the safety program and utilizes third-party safety consultants to maintain a safe working environment for its employees.
Considering that jobsite accidental falls are the number one cause of injuries in the industry, Metalmaster’s commitment to safety is admirable. “Our safety director visits job sites daily to ensure that everyone on the job stays compliant with all applicable federal and state safety laws,” adds Rock. “And every project, large or small, has a custom safety plan set in place.”
Accordingly, it’s no surprise that Metalmaster’s workers compensation experience modification rate – the industry standard by for a company’s safety record set by the insurance companies – is well below the industry average. This allows Metalmaster to participate in an exclusive insurance program created for companies that meet very specific and stringent criteria, as well as to have unlimited bonding capacity, both which enable Metalmaster to be more competitive when projects are ready to be awarded.
The company is recognized by Firestone, an industry giant, as one of its top contractors. Firestone has regularly awarded Metalmaster the coveted President’s Club Award, Inner Circle of Quality Award and others.
Rock says that the company has evolved with the shift to environmentally friendly products and roof installations. Metalmaster offers its clients a line of green roofs and is a certified installer of LiveRoof, Weston, Midwest Green Roofs and ECO-Roofs.
The company celebrated its 34-year anniversary in November 2011, and with well over 50,000,000 square feet of roof currently under warranty, the Smeja family can hold their heads high and be proud. Metalmaster Roofmaster, through the sincere belief and vision of the Smeja family, has truly become a leader in the commercial sheet metal and roofing industry.
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