Starkweather Roofing Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Starkweather Roofing Inc.
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Jeff and Diane Starkweather founded Starkweather Roofing Inc. in 1996 as a small, commercial roofing firm serving primarily the Phoenix Metropolitan area in Arizona. For 16 years, the company has been growing steadily, offering specialty services to customers in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. While many contractors perform similar roofing work in the area, SRI brings a unique sense of quality customer care to each project. Between management and workers in the field, the company’s staff is comprised of a range of industry talent. Chris Walker, vice president of SRI, rejoined the business in February 2013 after some time away. His mixed background in industrial engineering, marketing and business management allows him to contribute to the business on a number of levels. Jeff and Diane originally brought Chris on in 2009 to gain outside perspective for the business development side of the company.
“My job is a combination of maintaining operational efficiency and bringing in more revenue,” he explains. “For us, the major difference between our company and other contractors is quality and integrity. We are not the cheapest contractor for someone who just wants the lowest bid. We try to recommend what we feel is the right roof for a building. We don’t take shortcuts. Sometimes that means you don’t get a job, or you spend more than you thought. If something goes wrong and it’s our fault, we take care of it. We aren’t arguing with customers, we’re not taking it to court, we just do the right thing for our people and that will continue to come back around.”
Beating the Heat
The team’s commercial services offer roof construction, repair and maintenance for shopping centers, offices, industrial warehouses and manufacturing facilities. “We have done some pretty cool stuff,” Chris adds. Several unique clients have presented challenging and memorable projects. A vast majority of the team’s projects are for existing commercial buildings. With a staff of around 85, the crew has been busy, even despite recent economic conditions.
“One of our larger recent projects is for Nationwide Insurance in Scottsdale,” Chris elaborates. “We put on a brand new, white Energy Star roof. That project was about six weeks, which in roofing is quite a bit. This one is very similar to one we did in 2008 next door. Every five years or so, we will do the next building down the line. The reflective coatings that are white and have high solar reflectance minimizes heat transferred into the building and requires less energy for cooling. We installed data monitors to have a comparison and measure the amount of savings. That’s a big deal out here -you don’t want to put on a black roof. It just sucks up heat. Reflectivity is a big point for energy efficiency.
Another recent endeavor took place at the Universal Technical Institute, a motorcycle mechanics school in Phoenix. “They have a big campus,” Chris notes. “This was another roof replacement, a five or six week project where we performed a total replacement. The roof was about 20 years old and all built up. We put a new reflective energy star roof on that building, which kept us busy for a while.”
“Our most memorable project has been the spring training facilities for the Phoenix Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies,” Chris continues. “We did all the roofing there. It is not that the actual work is all that different, but there are large amount of roofs, including the overhang behind seating, dugouts, all of the auxiliary buildings, the clubhouse, concessions and administrative buildings. Visually that’s a cool one. We have partnership with the Diamondback. We do their home stadium, so there is some leverage with the association.”
Staying Ahead of a Changing Market
The team has a number of major projects coming up. While the economy has presented challenges for contractors across the country, Chris notes that his crew’s obstacles are more local. “The common challenge for contractors in this area is that it only rains seven days a year around Phoenix,” he explains. “The sense of urgency is lacking in this region. In Northern or Southern Arizona, it rains more frequently. Here, people are not worried about the roof unless there is a problem. You don’t think about it very often. We have monsoon season coming up, but other than that its dry. This challenge of course is not unique to us, so we work on convincing people to do cleaning, preventative maintenance. UV rays and high temperatures can really affect the durability of these installations. You buy a roof that should last 20 years, but if you don’t do anything the sun will eat it. It will deteriorate in half that time.
“People invest a little money, and we go out twice a year to clean and perform maintenance. We send reports to show people what they spent on repairs and offer preventative maintenance plans. With no leaks, businesses reduce tenant time off and equipment damage. We offer a warranty with a fixed cost on repairs. We get less revenue, but we can better load balance labor. Instead of doing an enormous amount of work at one time, we can spread it out across the year. For the life of a roof, we build that trust. When time comes to get new roof, they trust us to do it.”
Jeff, Diane and Chris have built a solid business that leaves a lasting impression on clients. With the local economy at a plateau, the team’s focus is on maintaining a competitive edge. SRI has strong relationships with suppliers and holds certifications to perform work o n work systems from most major manufacturers. “From an operations perspective, we are more lean and efficient that other businesses without sacrificing quality,” says Chris. “We have been around for 16 years, and we are ready for 16 more.” That continued balance continues to bring back repeat customers and draw in new work to Starkweather Roofing Inc.
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