Pioneer Roofing (Pioneer) has been in business since 1966. What began as a small, rural roofing contractor in south-central Wisconsin has grown into a large-scale commercial and industrial operation. Today, the business employs 80 team members working from a single location in Johnson Creek, Wisc. The large team works all over the Midwest, installing innovative roofing systems for a broad range of customers.
John Boettcher, president of Pioneer, started working with the business in 1968, left for a few years and returned in 1974. With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, Boettcher offers great insight into both the technical and business sides of the operation. He takes great pride in his team’s flexibility and willingness to adapt to new technology.
“The company first started experimenting with new products in the ’70s and the ’80s,” he recounts. “We put out some of the first thermoplastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) membranes. We expanded from that point on and we still try to work with specialty markets.” Pioneer has presented several firsts to the local market. With the boom of sustainable building over the last decade, the team installed the first green roofs in Wisconsin.
A growing portfolio
Pioneer has five service crews performing diverse replacement projects. While most of the company’s revenue comes from private customers, the team also works on select jobs in the public sector. Recent projects include cutting-edge green roofs, membranes and chemical resistant roofs as well as the more classic asphalt, tar and gravel roofs. “One of the things we have always done differently is look for advancements and changes in the roofing industries,” Boettcher points out. He and the team have put these technologies to use in several recent projects around the region.
“Right now we are involved in the renovation of the Avalon Theater on the south side of Milwaukee,” Boettcher explains. “This is a really neat old theater. It is a historical building, originally built in the 1800s. At one point it was converted to a movie theater, then closed for a while. The folks who are restoring it got historical funding money to renovate it and we are doing roof for them. The roof is completely used up, but you can see the metal and clay tile from the old roof. We are matching the existing parts of the roof to make it look original, then installing a new rubberized asphalt roof behind that.”
The team is also doing some work for Wisconsin Power and Light on several buildings. “These are all energy power plants; one in particular is a coal facility. There are a lot of logistics and we are working around piping and stands. There are some areas where there is only 24 inches of room to work under these components. We have to roof under platforms and structures. The main roof of the boiler room is 235 feet high which presents different logistical issues. The project is right on Lake Michigan and there are also falcons nesting on the high roof, so we have to wait until August so we don’t disrupt the nesting cycle.”
The company has also performed several energy efficient, green roof jobs. Many of these projects have won awards either for the roof or for the architectural design of these green buildings. Recent green roof projects include work for Fix Development Corporation, Grand River Station, University of Wisconsin and Madison Children’s Museum.
Technology plays an important role in Pioneer’s success in the roofing industry. The capable team is constantly adopting new practices to improve efficiency both throughout the process and for owners down the line. While these advances have made great strides for the business, Boettcher touts the importance of relationships as an equally important component of operations.
While Pioneers self-performs around 95 percent of the work on these projects, sometimes a contract requires a little help. Often, the team will subcontract sheet metal and plumbing services to members of the company’s professional network. Pioneer has established a strong, core group of strategic partners who are equally dedicated to delivering quality, efficiency and value to customers.
Another important part of the business is Pioneer’s safety program. “We have a safety director and regular safety meetings are a big part of what we do,” Boettcher says. “Our safety director first on every jobsite and plays a large role in how each process set up. When our crews show up, they get a briefing and follow the rules accordingly.”
The company’s well-structured program and reputation for quality work have attracted and kept customers for decades. Boettcher gauges his team’s success on customer satisfaction and rate of repeat business, two factors that are sky high for the business. With a loyal customer base, strong partnerships and a winning team, Pioneer Roofing is looking ahead to steady growth over the coming years.
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