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March 27, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with CFS Roofing Services President, David Crowther. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Megan Ellsworth: Hello, my name is Megan Ellsworth here at rooferscoffeeshop.com, and we are back again for Roofer of the Month podcast. Yay. And I'm here with David Crowther. And I'm so excited, you are our March Roofer the Month. Hi, how are you? What's going on?

David Crowther: Hi Megan, how are you?

Megan Ellsworth: I'm doing good. Glad to be here. So let's just have you introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your company and what you do.

David Crowther: Well, thanks for having me today, Megan. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

David Crowther: So first of all, again, my name is David Crowther, and I come from a family of roofers back to my grandfather. He started in the roofing business back in, I think the forties. And the family's been in it ever since. I even have children from my grandfather, my father, myself, my children, and I'm sure grandchildren are coming to that age. My grandchildren are coming to that age now too. So talk about a family industry. Yes, it's really made it through our family for sure.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

David Crowther: Yeah. So anyway, of course family's family. And so about 13, 14 years ago, I decided to branch off and do my own thing. Believe it or not, I've got my own ideas. So I moved in that direction back in the end of 2009, I guess, and started to build my own little company at the time with more focus on local customers and stuff. Because the company I came from was a little bit bigger company, started losing touch, that personal touch, that personal feeling. And so I decided that it's not the direction I wanted to head. So we started CFS Roofing.

And of course every year we've been growing and growing and grown, but when I'm trying to maintain that personal touch, that high end customer service approach towards our client base. And so really some of the differences I have from what I was brought up and raised into. But anyway, again, we started back in 2009 and we do commercial roofing, we do residential roofing, we do multi-family roofing, we do industrial. We do all kinds of roofing. And I think partly because in the geographical location of Fort Myers, Florida, where our headquarters is at, it's not a big city. It's not a Chicago, it's not a Miami, it's not a Tampa. So you're almost forced to do a little bit of everything to a certain extent if you want to have any type of size. And so we've grown almost up to 300 people. And so with that amount of people, you've got to do a lot of work. And of course you better know more than one type of roof to do, to pay the bills anyway. So that's where we're at and that's what we do so far.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Wow. 300 people. That's amazing. From 2009 to now? Incredible. So you kind of mentioned what you all provide, the different services. Would you say that CFS has a specialty?

David Crowther: Well, yes. Actually, what's really interesting is when I was born and bred into this industry, I did a lot of commercial roofing. And eventually I had branched off into residential or some of the slopes world, which is concrete tile, clay tile, metal roofing and that kind of thing. And so I'd like to tell you that my specialty from a few years ago, as we got into this specialty of manufacturing our own metal panels for our own metal roofing products. But the last 30 days, we just opened up another division with a product called lightweight insulating concrete. And so now we pour our own roof decks on commercial jobs and then go ahead and put the membrane, the single flies on top of that or the modified bitumens on top of that. And so, yeah, the specialty is we started out as commercial, it went to metal. We've always done concrete tile and shingles. Shifted over to the metal roofing and eventually into lightweight concrete roof decks.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow. Oh my gosh. Well, congrats on the new edition.

David Crowther: And on top of all that, Megan, what's really exciting about two years ago, because we were doing a lot of shorters, a lot of condominiums, we were doing a lot of roofing work in that segment. And so we also opened up an air conditioning division here, a mechanical division here at CFS to compliment the roofing services.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh my gosh.

David Crowther: We got into that when we needed an air conditioning contractor to help us on a job. If he was too small, he couldn't keep up with us. If he was too big, he really didn't give us the time of day unless he really needed the work. And so we were in that market where we're like in between. And so we just decided to do it ourselves internally. And so to compliment our roofing services, we have an air conditioned division.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow. Oh my gosh. Well, you guys are literally doing it all.

David Crowther: Yeah. That's pretty cool actually.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. That's fabulous. I did not know that you had so many different services that you provide. That's wonderful. So next question, what is something special that your company celebrates? That can be like you go all out for company birthdays or anniversaries, or you just celebrate your employees. So what does CFS celebrate?

David Crowther: Megan, what a great question. And here's the answer. The building that I moved into we built about two years ago. And we have a kitchen area and maybe a lounge area for the employees. And in that area on a wall about the size of a Volkswagen, we have a big chalkboard up. Yes. Chalkboard. Let me say that. Not a whiteboard, a chalkboard. And we put a monthly calendar up there for the employees and we celebrate everybody's birthday, everybody's anniversary day. We do serve salads twice a week for the employees here.

Megan Ellsworth: Nice.

David Crowther: Every now and then we'll do a pasta day. And this coming Friday, we're having a barbecue day. We have a pastor coming who also works on the side as a barbecue chef. And so we're bringing him in on Friday. And so he's going to feed the staff. So we do a lot of things for the employees here, and it really helps to keep the morale up and everybody really enjoys working here.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. That's great.

David Crowther: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow. I want to barbecue now. That sounds so good.

David Crowther: Come on over [inaudible 00:07:01].

Megan Ellsworth: I love it. Yeah. That's awesome. So how does CFS define superior customer service?

David Crowther: Well, at least in my opinion, the best customer service in the world is communicate, communicate, communicate. And in today's world and in today's challenges, which if other roofers are listening to this, they know the supply chain shortages.

Megan Ellsworth: Right.

David Crowther: They understand that the price increases and the delays on projects, and you name it. We've had those problems over the last two years. And so we have learned here that while we can't always fix the problems, at least if we communicate the problem to our customers, they understand. They may not like your answer, but at least they understand and they actually appreciate the response. But sometimes it's quite often. And I've gotten phone calls, a lot of people in other trades, and maybe even some of my competitors don't know what to do so they stick their head in the sand. And here communicate, communicate and communicate and it is what it is. So that's what I think really over the last couple of years pops in my mind about what is customer service? How do you really provide great customer service when you can't get materials?

Megan Ellsworth: So true.

David Crowther: It's a challenge that we all have. So the best thing to do is just talk through it. It's all you can do.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. Well said. That's so true. Especially like you said in these last few years when it's been even more difficult.

David Crowther: We had roof installations that were 12 months out.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, gosh.

David Crowther: What do you do?

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

David Crowther: You just tell your customer, guess what? I've got you on the schedule, we're going to move you back 12 months. But if anything changes, you're going to be the first person I call and I'm going to keep you in the loop. And then you check in with them every so often if you see if there's any updates. But those are our challenges over the last two years. And I would tell you probably most of your listening audience probably has had those same challenges.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Well said. So why should home or building owners work with CFS?

David Crowther: It's a good question. And let me say this. I've been in this business for 40 plus years. Almost so many years I don't even want to tell anybody anymore how long I've been in the business. That's [inaudible 00:09:31] the business. And I've seen so many problems. I've seen so many people get ripped off. I've seen so many people pay a lot of money for something they never should have paid for. And it breaks my heart to see some of these people come in from out of town, from who knows where, put on a roof, rush through it. End up leaking or having problems, and they call us to either look at it or fix a problem and they end up paying twice. Right?

Megan Ellsworth: Right.

David Crowther: So again, to go back to what I originally said. My grandfather was in the business. My father and his brothers were in the business. My brothers were in the business. My children are in the business. Do you know what's really important to a guy like myself? Is product.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

David Crowther: In other words, do the job right. I insist on it. And we've got a little saying around here, product before profit. And I promise you, once you learn how to put a roof on right, then you can learn how to make money doing it later. But first, let's learn how to do it right.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

David Crowther: And so quality tradesmen are really rare around here. So one of the things that I was, actually Tammy and I talked about, was the NRCA's certifications for the roofers. And that's so expensive, but so necessary. So I don't know how many guys we have here, 15 guys that got certified. It's in that range. Maybe it's 20. And those guys are so proud of their certifications. And I can tell you, Megan, if I sent those guys to your house to put your roof on, they are proud to stand up at the end of the day and tell you that they put your roof on because they feel what they did is really important.

And so I like to promote a culture around here of, again, product before profit. Do the job right to begin with. Measure twice, cut once. That kind of stuff.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

David Crowther: Since there's a lack of a lot of good trades people here in the state of Florida, we have no unions, that that's a real important issue. So again, I've been in this my whole life and I'm sure there's other people out there, they know other roofing contractors. They know what I'm talking about. That it's so important to put a roof on correctly that we push that really hard around here.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. That is so amazing to hear. And it's so great that you guys have so many of your people that are on the roof certified with NRCA. That is such a cool program. Well done.

David Crowther: Yes. We kind of pushed them a little bit in the beginning. But these guys, once they heard about the program, they were volunteering for it. There are good tradesmen left and programs like that really just exemplify not only the tradesman himself, the company that stands behind those guys. It really kind of speaks volumes of the kind of roofing contractor you'd want on your own house. Because the last time I checked the capital expenditure on re-roofing a house or an office billing or something you own, it's a big ticket. Man, you don't want to do that twice. You just don't.

Megan Ellsworth: No thanks.

David Crowther: Yeah. No thanks is right.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

David Crowther: So hire a local substantial guy that's been in the business a long time and chances are it's a well calculated risk there.

Megan Ellsworth: Well, thank you for sharing that. We just have one last question, and that is, why are you an R Club member?

David Crowther: I've always had a philosophy. I learned years ago talking to other roofing contractors. I've always learned from other people. I'd like to tell you that I know everything. I don't. But what's interesting is when sometimes you get 3, 4, 5 roofers in the same room and they start talking, they start collaborating, and they just start talking about best business practices. I walk out of there so refreshed with new thoughts, new ideas. And I bring that information back to this company and I start pushing it, as you would, down the ladder to the people that work here. And so I find it very fulfilling, rewarding. Not to mention just to meet people and making the friendships. And these friendships last for years, because again, I'm not even going to tell you how many years I've been in the business. But I've known some of these guys for 30, 40 years. And it's really a joy to know these guys.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Well, thank you so much David, and congrats on being the Roofer of the Month for March. We're so happy that you and CFS is a part of the R Club. So thank you for being here.

David Crowther: Megan. Thank you for having us.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

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