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May Roofer of the Month - Elite Roofing, Inc. - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

May Roofer of the Month - Elite Roofing, Inc. - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
April 23, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Albert Torrella from Elite Roofing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Megan Ellsworth: Welcome to the hottest podcast in the roofing industry. Get ready to meet the stars of the rooftops, the shingle sensations and the gutter gurus. Each month, we'll climb up to the top to shine the spotlight on one remarkable roofer who's nailing it. We'll dive deep into their stories, their triumphs and the secrets behind their sky-high success.

Don't miss out on these industry insights, incredible tales of resilience and the passion that keeps these roofers at the top of their game. Tune in, subscribe and follow us on this incredible journey as we crown this month's Roofer of the Month. Hello, everyone. My name is Megan Ellsworth here at RoofersCoffeeShop.com. We are back again for a Roofer of the Month. Today, I'm here with Al from Elite Roofing. Hello, how are you?

Albert Torrella: Hi. Very good to be here. Thank you, Megan, for having me.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely. Congratulations on being Roofer of the Month. We're so happy to have you a part of the Art Club and the Roofer's Coffee Shop family. I'll just have you introduce yourself, and tell us a little bit about Elite Roofing.

Albert Torrella: Well, my name's Albert Torrella. I've been doing roofing for 41 years now, and I'm the owner of Elite Roofing.

Megan Ellsworth: Love it. Easy-peasy. What would you say is Elite Roofing's specialty? What type of services do you provide?

Albert Torrella: Well, we do mostly all types of roofing. We do flats, shingles. What we've really been doing lately is historical restoration work in the Jersey City area, Hudson County area.

Megan Ellsworth: Okay.

Albert Torrella: There's a little niche over here for that, and after doing roofing for so long, it gets to be boring after a while, so I'll do something different. We've been doing a lot of historical restoration work: cornices, mansards, stuff like that, copper, buildings that have historical stuff underneath it.

We love to restore it, bring it back to the way it was in the turn of the century, late 1800s. It gives us something to do. It actually looks like the customers like it. It's something different. Bring back our heritage, our past.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: Yeah. I think it's really a nice thing to get into. I've been doing it all this time, but I've been doing it a lot more lately than ever, a matter of fact. People really, they buy these older homes in the Hudson County area and then they're all with the siding over it and they want something different. Then underneath it is all the historical trim work and the historical woodwork.

We take that and we open it all up, see what they have, bring it back to the shop and we start, we replicate it, we reproduce it and we repaint it and put it all back together and then we install it and people like it and stuff like that.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, that's awesome. It is so cool to be able to bring back the luster and shine of something that's been forgotten.

Albert Torrella: People don't even know they have hidden gold underneath their new siding. It's just an old house. Yeah, they don't even realize what they have until I guess they meet us or me meet me and they look and then they want something different. They don't want to be like a regular cookie cutter house. If they want to restore it, I'm all for it.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome.

Albert Torrella: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Very cool.

Albert Torrella: Yeah, I've done a lot of projects that way, and people like it, and it's actually very rewarding.

Megan Ellsworth: I bet. I bet.

Albert Torrella: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: What's something that you all celebrate over there at Elite? It could be birthdays, holidays, it could be historical roofs. What do you celebrate?

Albert Torrella: Well, we try to foster a camaraderie among all our people. What we try to do is I'm trying to get the next generation of roofer ready to take its place in this world. We all have a destiny, a goal or something, they have hidden talents. I try to take that little spark that they have and I give it fire, and I give it warmth, and I blaze that fire within them to be more than themselves.

There's something more in everybody, and I try to promote that amongst our people and stuff like that, which I think is, everybody has a gift and they just have to channel within to achieve those things. That's what-

Megan Ellsworth: Wow, absolutely.

Albert Torrella: ... It's something special. If we get new people, we try to show them how to do metal, and how to do different things, and how it all works, and how you build everything. The young kids, they don't really know. It's like something brand new to them. We're trying to bring it back to what they're good at. Then we try to make them better and better and better as the years go on and on and on. They get better and better and better.

It's just what we're working with over here. I was taught the same thing when I was a young man. God rest his soul, one of my father's foremen, he was excellent at doing metal and restoration work. I learned off him, and now he's in heaven, that I never forgot what he showed me. I try to show the young people all that stuff and stuff like that. It's very rewarding.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: Roofing is not like a regular, it's a hard job to begin with and we try to make it better. We try to think of all the little things that have to go into it and stuff like that to make it work. What we do here is we try to be better for ourselves and better for our comrades. We're really getting ready for the next generation of roofer. That's what I really want to do. I really want the boys to learn, because I'm not going to be around forever and none of us are. I want to pass that down.

Megan Ellsworth: Right. Absolutely.

Albert Torrella: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. I think that's a great thing to celebrate and passing down generational knowledge and wisdom is so important, especially in a trade that we need more people more than ever.

Albert Torrella: More than ever.

Megan Ellsworth: I think that's a great thing.

Albert Torrella: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: How would you define superior customer service?

Albert Torrella: That's a very good question. Superior customer service has to deal with... Before you can give customer service to other people, you have to look within yourself, what your gifts are and you have to come to grasp a reality. People, they tell you what they want, right? They'll tell you if they're leaking, it's this, that and the other thing. You have to listen. You have to listen to them, but beside listening, you have to also interpret what they're saying and make sure what they want will work for them.

Sometimes what they want is totally way out there. You have to bring it back to reality, and listen to what they want, come up with you know what's going to work and just follow through. Customer service starts from the first phone call that you get and you have to obviously take all their information, all that other stuff beside that, but then you have to listen to what their problems are. You have to go out to the job. You have to survey the job, what they want to do and then you have to come to tell them their options.

Not everybody's want a brand new roof. Some people just want repair. Some people just want to repair and repair and repair and after a while, you can't repair it anymore because it's been repaired so many times, and they have to come to the grips with that. You have to be a good listener. Obviously, you go to the call, you get the job, you do what you can do on the job, you do your job. We here at Elite Roofing, I just don't want...

Like say you come, I don't want you to be the customer, but I want you and then I want your mom, and I want your dad, and your brother, and your sister, and you have to give them good service. What we do is when we do the roof and after the roof is done, we follow up three or four weeks later. Call them, "Hey, how you doing? It's been raining a couple times. Everything's going good over there?" They'll tell you straight up if it's good and it's not good. They'll tell you right at it.

If it's not good, you got to make good on it or you got to figure out why it's still happening. A lot of people, we got it, and we get it, and they appreciate that call. That simple follow-up is really important to people. Again, there's so much you have to do in a day. I work here, I come in at eight o'clock, and I don't leave til eight o'clock at night a lot of times, and I'm married to this place. It's 12 hours.

After a while, one starts to roll into another job and everything gets to be jumbled. You have to stop to sit, and you have to divide all your time, and what's important, and you try to give everybody that specialized service. It's like triage in a war room. You have to really see who's picking your brain, because some people just call you to pick your brain and they want to just do it. They want me to go there and tell them why it's leaking and then they'll give it to somebody else.

You have to watch out for other people. Again, you have to be very careful about who you're doing work for, because some people just want to waste your time. Again, it's a guessing game, but there is a lot of good people out there. We try to help as many people as we can. I'm only one person, but we have a team of people, and I tell them the same thing. You got to be really good on the roof. You can't scream, curse. You're dealing with roofers. They curse, they scream. It's a circus sometimes.

Others, you got to go out there and be the band leader with the little wand and conduct the circus, because it goes around, and until the job is done, and then we're moving on to the next circus and stuff like that.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: In that timeframe, when you're at somebody's house, though, you don't want to cause damage. You want to...

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, yeah.

Albert Torrella: It's important that you have to be prepped, you're ready to do the job. I know you got to make payroll and stuff like that, especially for the guys doing the job, but it's so way beyond that that you have to be attentive to all the little details, from buying little booties so the men can go up and about, distributing the floor, to getting the dumpster right, how many dumpsters you need, you do a core sample. Little things like that are very, very important.

When I write an estimate to people, this could be 20 different line items and I tell the customer, "Every line item means something. It's not like I'm just throwing two things in there. This thing means that, and it's because of this reason, and that reason goes into this reason, and it all goes... It's like it's a big, but you need a lot of these things to get your job done. This is what your little details."

The easiest way to explain it to people, and this is when I talk to regular people, a regular couple, like you here. Say you're going to go out on a date with your party, and you put your dress on, and that's the roof. Okay? You didn't do your hair, you didn't do your nails, you didn't do your makeup, you don't have no jewelry. Are you ready to go out on a date? No.

Megan Ellsworth: No.

Albert Torrella: You're not. That's exactly right. I said, "The roof is exactly like that because the little details are not done." Without the little details, you are going to leak without doing all those little and then it starts to dawn on people what really goes on and stuff like that. The little details are very, very important. You spend more time doing the details than actually doing the roof, believe it or not.

You have to charge accordingly. If you're going to be doing all those things, you have to charge accordingly to people, because those little details take a lot of time.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, time and effort, and additional care, and patience. So important.

Albert Torrella: Very important. Yes.

Megan Ellsworth: Why should homeowners work with Elite Roofing? Why should they hire you for all those amazing reasons?

Albert Torrella: Because I'm gorgeous.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, that too.

Albert Torrella: I have a great personality. We'll never tell anybody just no. We've been nominated in USA Today as one of the best five roofers in this area.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Albert Torrella: We're in Hoboken, Jersey City. What else did we have? We have a whole bunch of accolades from people. Was it Times, The New York Times? I've worked 40 years, and I never got really any credit for working so hard. Now as I'm older and everything, all this credit is coming to me and stuff like that. Again, I worked hard for it. It just wasn't given to me. It took me decades to get here. Decades.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: Again, I'm trying to foster that same kind of with customer service. Again, everybody's special, and everybody has a certain need, and you just got to listen, and you got to give everybody that particular time and you got to take care of people. That stuff here with the recognition from other large, the papers, and the Times, and USA Today, and other ones, that is just recognition of how hard we work here. I want to be your roofer. I don't want to like, you to go somewhere else.

If you go somewhere else, it's mostly because it's a price thing or people try to copy me and things like that. I try telling people, "Again, we have insurance." People don't even have insurance these days. People are taking chances. It's very important that you get somebody who is not just licensed, but they have the proper insurance, because accidents happen and you don't want to be out there caught unaware and stuff like that. A lot of people, they leave before they learn.

You have to really learn what you're really getting into and stuff like that. I try to educate people, but that's really why and I really want people to work with us. I love working with people. It's just... I'll give you, for instance, through my tenure, I've worked with so many different people. I've worked for Jim Henson with my father. We did the Muppet guy in Inglewood, so I was a little kid.

Megan Ellsworth: What?

Albert Torrella: I've done... Listen to me. Everybody's got a roof, everybody.

Megan Ellsworth: That's so true.

Albert Torrella: Everybody's got a story. You just go out there and you meet the basketball star. I'm not really a big sports person, but Ewing, the big basketball star, did his roof. I did a lot. The guy from the Jets, did his roof. I meet all different people and all these different... Again, everybody's got a pot to piss in. Everybody got a roof. Everybody's got a story. You have to listen. You're surrounded, be respectful to people.

They work in their particular field, and they're good at what they do, and I'm good at what I do, and I want to work with them. I tell them, "I want you to be, I want to work with you and I'll give you your props." Yeah, I work with a lot of different people, and everybody's got a story, and everybody's got a thing. The smallest person to the biggest person, everybody's got a roof.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: Hey, I'm here for you.

Megan Ellsworth: I love that. Elite Roofing is here for you. Al's here for you. Everybody has a roof. Oh, yeah. That's so true. Why are you an Art Club member, and what are some of your favorite things about being in the Art Club?

Albert Torrella: Well, okay, so we're an innovator. What do I mean by that?

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, sir.

Albert Torrella: I'm always the first one to do everything before everybody else does. At the Roofing Show, we stopped at your booth, and I think we were the first ones to join from Jersey, as everybody's telling me. You want to be part of that, because Roofers Coffee Shop is not just an online website support system. It's more than that. It brings people together. It brings the, not only just regular roofers, but customers too. People want knowledge about the roofing industry and stuff like that or they have questions for it.

They can find it on Roofers Coffee Shop. I'm always about bringing new technology to my area, whatever it is. If it's silicone, when it was 25 years ago, or EPDM, or TPO, or whatever they want. New technology is always the best thing to do. You got to keep reinventing yourself as you get older. You have to change with the times, and the times are online, social media, customer service, being more than just yourself.

You're part of this big... We went to the eclipse yesterday, and everybody realizes that we are just a little tiny speck in the universe, but we all have-

Megan Ellsworth: So true.

Albert Torrella: ... Our place. We all are people. We all have families. We all cry, we all laugh and we have to be part of the technology. Technology is what's going to bring us all together and stuff like that. Just being a part of everything is just where it's all at.

That's why I'm very happy to be part of Roofer's Coffee Shop. Then I heard after we joined, a whole bunch of people wanted to be, because again, I'll start, I'll lead them and they go, "Oh, well, if he's on it, well, we got to join."

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, Al.

Albert Torrella: Roofing, you got to do it for your own reasons, just don't do it because I do it. A lot of people just want to copy me. They think if they copy me, they're going to be like me, but they're never going to be me because I'm...

Megan Ellsworth: They're themselves.

Albert Torrella: I'm a unique person. Be yourself.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Albert Torrella: Do your own thing. Don't follow me. Again, I'm for the customer. I'm not about myself. You know what I'm saying? [inaudible 00:19:16] my people from the customer. Look at my little dog in the back. I love my little dog, [inaudible 00:19:20].

Megan Ellsworth: I know.

Albert Torrella: We have a little family over here, and we try to foster that co-operational feeling amongst everybody. I have a customer right here, I did a dumb waiter for her in her house and I don't even do dumb waiters in the house. She had a dumb waiter in her house. She wanted to restore it. I'm like, "Okay." She had something from the late-1800s. It was in bad shape. We went there and we just, it's on our TikTok.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, cool.

Albert Torrella: We went over there, we rebuilt her dumb waiter, we restored it, we glazed it. She's happy as a clam. She didn't know how beautiful it could be. Again, this is her house. She wanted it because she's, again, like us. She wants that, to bring the past back to honor our past. It's very important that we honor our past and know where we're coming from, so we can know where we're going.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

Albert Torrella: I sound like a philosopher here.

Megan Ellsworth: I like it. This is great. This has been the best Roofer of the Month podcast ever. Well, we've hit the last question, and that is, what would your walk-up song be when you're walking out onto a field or a court? What's your walk-up song?

Albert Torrella: Think it's from the 1981 movie, Excalibur. I think Patrick Stewart was in it, was it O Fortuna? I think O Fortuna.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, that's iconic. That's amazing. This has been the best answer to that question by far. Well, Al, thank you so much. Congratulations on being Roofer of the Month. We are so happy to have you a part of the Art Club, and we'll see you at the coffee break.

Albert Torrella: Thank you so much for having me. You have a very nice day. Okay, Megan?

Megan Ellsworth: You too. Thank you so much, Al. That's a wrap on this month's episode of Roofer of the Month. Thanks for joining us on this journey. We'll catch you next time for more rooftop celebrations. Make sure to subscribe and follow the RoofersCoffeeShop.com Podcast page for more, and go to RoofersCoffeeShop.com or AskaRoofer.com for more information.

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