Case Studies

Olsson Roofing Company Inc.

Celebrating 100 years of quality services in Illinois

In 1914, Nils Olsson founded Olsson Roofing Company Inc. (Olsson) as a small business, performing low-slope commercial roofing in and around St. Charles, Ill. Not long after, he moved the company to Aurora, Ill. After a century in business, the roofing industry has changed significantly. Gone are the days of hoisting materials with pulleys and horses. The margins are a bit better too, considering the business’ longevity and changes in the market.

John Goers, vice president of business development, offers 15 years of experience in the commercial roofing industry. He is a part of Olsson’s team of more than 200 employees; he refers to as teammates, displaying a strong appreciation for the company’s tradition, commitment to safety, quality and coordination.

Today, Olsson operates from three locations in the Midwest. With a main location in Aurora, Ill., which serves surrounding communities, the team also works from an office in Rockford, Ill., that caters to Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. The business also has an architectural metal facility in South Chicago Heights, Ill. “Our marketing territory covers the Midwest,” Goers explains. “We work in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana and Michigan. We’ve also been known to travel further for certain customers.”

A full-service operation

Olsson specializes in commercial and industrial roofing and architectural metal. The team also offers specific expertise in metal roofing, coatings and restorations. Serving both public and private markets, the business has established a highly diversified client base.

“We partner with and perform work consistently for schools, hospitals, municipalities, manufacturers, warehouses, distribution and property management firms among others,” Goers elaborates. “Over the years, we have listened to our customers, the market and have diversified based upon their needs and expectations. Our company has four divisions: a new construction division, a reroofing division, an architectural metal division and our service and maintenance division that offers 24-hour/seven-days per week/365-days per year emergency response along with non-emergency service, maintenance, roof assessment and repair.”

After 100 years in business, Olsson is known in the industry for more than just high quality roofing solutions. “We consistently focus on safety, new product and system technology, training and education, as well as relationships, fostering proactive communication, building mutual trust and respect,” Goers continues. “Customers become long-term business partners.” The company’s high level of earned repeat business and referrals has allowed Olsson to grow into one of the largest commercial and industrial roofing contractors in the Midwest United States.

According to Goers, the construction industry is very dynamic and ever-changing and that presents challenges on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Roofing in particular meets the basic human needs of providing shelter for people. “Our projects are all rewarding,” Goers notes. “We’re not just talking about financial reward; we gauge our success via the voice of our customer and on the relationships we build. Each job or project is a success onto itself. The real rewards come when your company is recognized by your peers for having an outstanding safety record and unparalleled quality of work. Each job or project has its own unique parameters and sorting the right ones out with the customer is critical.”

A few of Olsson’s recent projects include the new Big Ten Conference and Corporate facility in Rosemont, Ill. “We also did one of the first Hispanic charter schools in Chicago,” Goers says. “From the beginning, we have attempted to give the customer the right product application, single source solutions provider, for their particular property.”

Lasting Partnerships

The company’s relationships and vertical integration have helped keep the business afloat, even through the recent economic downturn. Goers explains that Olsson faced many of the same challenges as other contractors, dealing with a slow market particularly within new construction. Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, however, Olsson got busy.

“The downturn was a great education and exercise for us, because it got us to refocus and appreciate our diversified model,” he details. “We were selling to the public and the private sectors, meanwhile building and strengthening the relationships we have with both customer bases. We made it a heightened priority to focus on the intangible parts of business: listening, communication, integrity, agility, thinking outside the box and mutual respect; treating our customers the way we want to be treated. We are proud of what we have built, who we are and what we do, but at the same time, humble and driven.”

Olsson measures its team’s success by the company’s safety rating, quality of install and the amount of repeat business, referrals and recommendations given by customers, as well as business partners.

“We get the greatest sense of pride seeing our customers’ expectations met safely, on schedule and on budget,” Goers explains. “As an ESOP, our ownership team has created an environment where teammates feel a sense of self-worth, accomplishment and pride in the company they work for. We want them to know they are valued, respected and appreciated. We are competitive and big believers in driving success collaboratively with others. If our teammates are successful, we are successful.”

Olsson celebrates 100 years in 2014. As the market continues to stabilize, the company is looking ahead to new opportunities in the market. “We are going to continue to supply a high level of leadership, customer service and support,” Goers explains. “As the economy and market continues to recover, we plan to continue to diversify and earn strategic and opportunistic business.” Driven by a strong set of values, Olsson Roofing Company Inc. is on a strong path of growth for the coming years.

Published on: November 10, 2014

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