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RoofersCoffeeShop - Where The Industry Meets!

Stories From the Roof S1: E2 with Marty Stout - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

The Roofer Show with Dave Sullivan
October 30, 2019 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Marty Stout. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.

Speaker 1: Welcome to the RoofersCoffeeShop Podcast, with your host Dave Sullivan from The Roofer Show. You've found the podcast that is dedicated to celebrating the roofing industry and the great people that work in roofing. Each week Dave interviews a member of our roofing community to learn more about their challenges and successes, and to share only a roofer would appreciate. Let's get started.

Dave Sullivan: Welcome everybody. I'm Dave Sullivan, and thanks for joining me on the RoofersCoffeeShop Podcast, where the industry meets. Many of you know the RoofersCoffeeShop as it's been a place for the last 20 years that's built a community of roofing professionals that share idea, tell stories, do research. We share items, find items and get help on the day-to-day problems we all face. I've been a successful roofing contractor for over 30 years, and I host another iTunes podcast called The Roofer Show where I help contractors grow their businesses. You can check that out at theroofershow.com to see what that's all about. The great thing about podcasts is that you can download them to your phone, listen to them in your truck or wherever you want. Each week I sit down with another roofing contractor that's hitting it out of the park, and learn what they're doing at their company that's working for them and give you the takeaways that you can use in your business. Today I sit down with Marty Stout of Go Roof Tune Up. His company has a unique approach where he does roof repairs, restoration, renovation and maintenance on single family homes. Right now he's got three locations, and he's looking to expand on some more. Marty's a third-generation roofer, has some great ideas about business, so let's sit down and see what's up with Marty.

Hey Marty, it's great to sit down with you and talk about roofing today.

Marty Stout: Looking forward to it. Nice to be here.

Dave Sullivan: Good. Tell me a little about what you do and what your businesses is like. I see that, pulling up your website, looks like you've got some great stuff going on. You're more into the roof maintenance it looks like. Can you tell me about that?

Marty Stout: Sure. We specialize in residential maintenance and repair, we also do a little bit of re-roofing, but we really focus on just the maintenance and repair side of the business. Our tagline is, “Don't by a new roof if all you need is a roof tune up.”

Dave Sullivan: There you go, I like it. Do you do any commercial maintenance work at all, or is it just pretty much focused on the residential?

Marty Stout: 99.9% is all residential. We'll do a commercial job if we have a good customer that really wants us to do something for them, but generally we try and stay away from that.

Dave Sullivan: Why is that? Because-

Marty Stout: There's some really smart people that do really good work on commercial work. We let them do it.

Dave Sullivan: That was a lot of our business, and we were up here in San Francisco and we focused primarily on commercial re-roofing. Then we built up a maintenance division where it just really took off and worked for us. But I think that on the maintenance end, whether it's residential or commercial, it's a great way to go.

Marty Stout: We really like it, it's a good business.

Dave Sullivan: Well it looks good. I'm checking out your website, looks like you've got three locations. Is that right?

Marty Stout: Yeah, we have offices in three cities, Seattle, Denver and Southern California, but we're actually active in five markets besides that, that we don't have offices in.

Dave Sullivan: Now how did you get in the roofing business? Everybody's got a story.

Marty Stout: Well, yeah. I guess I should say I got into the roofing business because my dad was hitchhiking down Firestone Boulevard in 1955. But my dad was a roofer and so I started roofing, follow in his footsteps.

Dave Sullivan: Well it's going around. That's how I got in the business. We had a family business, I bought my father out when I got out of school, about 1979 and had been doing it for about 30 years, and then just retired about 5 years ago. It beats you up pretty good.

Marty Stout: Yeah, you're the smart one.

Dave Sullivan: I don't know about that. Like I say, be careful what you wish for, but it's been going well. So tell me what kind of problems do you run into? I mean the roofing business is nothing but problems for the most part, we've got a lot of headaches.

Marty Stout: I think our biggest problem, like most people's biggest problem right now, is quality recruitment and finding the right people. We do all of our work through local contractors that we partner up with, and finding guys that are property licensed and run their businesses legitimately, that still do a good job and understand how to do repairs. It's easier to find a guy that knows how to re-roof a house, but to find a guy that actually knows how to dig through and get the repair done and will follow through, that's our biggest problem but it's not a unique challenge to us.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, I think that's the biggest problem throughout the industry. I don't know. It alk with a lot of contractors. I don't know what the solutions gonna be because we've got more and more guys retiring from the business. I mean, the average roofer out there's close to 45 years old, so these guys are retiring, we're not bringing in new people, nobody wants to do this job unfortunately even though I think it's a great industry to be in. The big push going into four year colleges, come out with a ton of school debt, can't get a job, they're working at Starbucks and not making any money. Can't even make their school debt payments. As opposed to get back into the idea of trade schools and so forth, because you can come out high school, make a great living, a great career in the roofing business. You're not seeing that at all, so I don't know what the future's gonna be as far as recruitment, and so forth. It's gonna be a big problem, don't you think?

Marty Stout: It's a huge challenge, and you hit the nail on the head. People have this mindset that working with their hands is beneath them, so it's a big, big problem. We'll sort it out at some point, but right now it's a problem, and it's a problem everywhere. Every one of the markets that we're in has the same challenges with finding good people, and every roofer complains about it. I don't know the short-term, I don't know the answer, but long-term something will work out.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, I mean here's a great job, it's not gonna be off-shored because somebody's gotta do it. There's a huge demand, there always be. There's gonna be more and more roofs that need to be replaced as time goes on. Yeah, I don't know. NRCA, we're trying a lot of things. The demographics just doesn't work out, I don't think.

Marty Stout: Well one of the problems I think we have is all these kids are reading about these internet millionaires or billionaires and they wanna be that kid.

Dave Sullivan: Right, right.

Marty Stout: Great idea, but who's the actor that has that Dirty Jobs show that talks about just getting in there and working hard?

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, Mike Rowe.

Marty Stout: Find passion in something. Yeah. Find passion in the work you have, don't try to find the passion of your life. There's a lot of truth to what he says, and he sees a lot. I remember when I was talking to my senior year class counselor, he told me I needed to straighten up or I wasn't gonna get to go to college. I, pretty cocky, said, “I don't need to go to college.” He says, “Well you never make a good living if you don't go to college,” and I said, “I made more money than you did last year, so I'm pretty good.” That was in high school.

Dave Sullivan: Exactly. That is so true.

Marty Stout: But you know, it's different now. Then you find the guys that get into roofing and they don't wanna show up to work every, and it's tough. But it's always been a little tough, it's just tougher now.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, I think so. So what are you doing as far as marketing these days? As far as bringing in business, getting leads, what kind of things have worked for you?

Marty Stout: Well we have a two-pronged business. This business, Go Roof Tune Up, we started in 09, and it focuses primarily, as I said, on residential maintenance and repair. Our core business is going directly to the consumer, working with home owners trying to help them extend the longevity of their roof. So that marketing we do, we have a marketing person who focuses full-time on the internet and social media and trying to get good reviews and all of those sundry things. Right now we're working on a problem where, as an example, we're working on a program where we're matching donation funds for the fire victims in California. Trying to get our existing customers and potentially new customers interested in going to our website and seeing what we're doing, and if they donate money we match it. Anything we can do to get somebody on our website we think is a win. We also have what we call the investor side of our business, or the commercial side of our business, where we do a lot of real estate work and work for investment REITs that have large blocks of houses. So that's a different kind of marketing. The two sides of the business kind of complement each other, and I do most of that stuff just networking and getting to know people, and working through those kind of connections. I'm more hands-on with that part.

Dave Sullivan: So you're talking more apartment building complexes, multiple-

Marty Stout: Still, our focus is all single family homes. So in the last downturn there were a few companies that came out of that downturn, were developed in that cycle, that have bought thousands of houses around the country.

Dave Sullivan: Oh, I see. I got you, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marty Stout: So they like us for a one-stop shop for managing their roofs. We can provide for them the same thing you provided for your commercial roof customers on the residential side.

Dave Sullivan: Sure. Okay. Now you go up there, you make an inspection. What kind of things are you looking at for covering in those inspections as far as making the recommendations for work for to your customers?

Marty Stout: Well on a typical shingle roof we're looking at what the granules look like, how much fiberglass might be showing through if it's a fiberglass shingle roof. What the trim condition is, flashings and antennas that have been mounted and remounted on the roof. Edge metal, whether it's existing or not. Anything we can see there that's obvious, score marks from trees, we'll repair those things. Our goal in looking at the roof is to provide them a five-year warranty on the whole roof, not just an area that we might repair, but we walk away from that roof, we give them their report and they get a five-year warranty. If that house leaks in five years, we repair it. If it won't do five years, we recommend that they re-roof it. If it's beyond five years, we give them the date that it needs to be re-roofed. We project out as long as we can on what the life expectancy of that roof is and we give them a budget in today's dollars of what that roof should cost, so they can start putting together their budgets knowing what their exposure's going to be on a roof in the future. That even helps single, regular consumers. If we go look at their house and we give them a five-year warranty, and we tell in 15 years you're gonna need a new roof and heres what you need to be planning for, then they can start putting that money aside and they have it when they need it.

Dave Sullivan: Right, right.

Marty Stout: People really like the program.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, it sounds great, and I don't know anybody else that's doing it in the commercial area, but on the residential, I think it sounds like a great little niche that you're in.

Marty Stout: We're trying.

Dave Sullivan: So when you're not out there pounding away, running your business, what do you like to do? You got any hobbies that you're interested in?

Marty Stout: I enjoy golf. I don't get to play very much, but I really enjoy golf. It's a great game, it's good camaraderie. I've got three daughters and four grand kids, and they keep me really busy.

Dave Sullivan: I bet.

Marty Stout: So we spend a lot of time with them.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah the golf-

Marty Stout: Didn't realize how expensive-

Dave Sullivan: ... there's a frustrating game. I mean, it's something you've gotta start when you're really young I think. It's tough to pick it up, like I did, later in life. It's never gonna happen. So it's a tough deal.

Marty Stout: I'm the same way. I didn't pick up golf until I was older. It's fun. I'm not really super good at it, but it's a great game. I love the camaraderie.

Dave Sullivan: That's great. Now coming into the new year, have you set any good goals for the business?

Marty Stout: We've got three or four new markets that we're hoping to get into farther east. We've been concentrating most of our energies on west of the Mississippi. We're looking at some stuff, some opportunities in Florida and Georgia, and a couple of other places in that part of the country. Then trying to just, beyond that, trying to dig deeper into the markets we have, and try and capitalize on a few more opportunities there.

Dave Sullivan: I like it. How do you determine which new markets that you go after?

Marty Stout: Well, a lot of that is driven by our investor customers that have properties there and they want us to go there for them. That gives us the little bit of juice to be there. Then we can go into that market and we can partner up with the local roofer, and we have something to give him. It's much easier to get a guy, or a couple of guys, when we have some existing business. So then we use that to capitalize and try and get some consumer business also.

Dave Sullivan: I like that. Now go into an area, partner up with another roofing contractor, pretty much have them handle most of this, is that what I'm hearing?

Marty Stout: Yeah. So we get an address to look at. He or she will go look at it and do an evaluation based on our formula, which is all iPad driven now. Come up with a price, what it would take to do the tune up, which with a five-year warranty, or if it's not repairable or tune-upable, what the re-roof budget should be. Then send that back to us, and then we send it to the customer.

Dave Sullivan: The RoofersCoffeeShop, as you know, it's all about getting contractors together and helping each other out. What advice can you give to some of these younger guys that are just coming up? I know the question is always, if you were to do it over again what would you do differently?

Marty Stout: It is a great question, and I think that the thing that I would do different is listen more. I think I'm part of a group of guys that all thought we were all so smart we didn't have to listen to any of our competition or get together and network, or any of those things. I think I missed out on a lot of great education and great networking. I mean, I knew the guys I was competing with, we saw each other at functions and stuff, but we never really learned from each other. I think I missed out on a lot there.

Marty Stout: I would stay connected, get together, talk about things, don't be afraid. Obviously you have your little trade secrets or your customer list, that kind of stuff you're not gonna share, but best practices and how things are going and all that, it's important to know what each other are doing and learn from each other. Be smarter.

Dave Sullivan: I totally agree, and that would be my answer too to that question.

Marty Stout: Yeah, we're probably about the same.

Dave Sullivan: Yeah, and I think maybe that's what it takes to become a contractor, you know? Maybe we're not that bright, and we all seem to have that big ego though, that we know it all, we're not gonna listen to a lot of people, we don't take a lot of advice, we don't ask for help from others. I think the problem with this industry that I always had, and I think so many contractors are faced with, is that you're really alone out there. You don't have anybody that you can really talk to that understands the business, because unless you're sitting there in the trenches, sweating, making payroll or whatever it is, all the problems that we deal with every day, nobody really understands that. To have a group that you can talk to, that you can bounce off ideas, really learn from each other. That was the idea of this podcast, when I got together with Vicky and said, “Yeah, I'd like to do this.” I've got another podcast called The Roofer Show. I've really enjoyed doing that, we've put out a lot of good information for contractors and hopefully it helps, but having that camaraderie and a group that we can all get together and talk about, is what the CoffeeShop's all about. We're trying to develop some more reforms and perhaps get into peer groups where we can really learn from each other because we've all been there and learned from so many of the hard knocks that we've had to face. It can help these guys avoid, take some of these shortcuts and avoid some of the pitfalls that we've all gone through. You and I have both seen our fathers go through this too, the cycle continues, right?

Marty Stout: Yeah, and it's gonna keep going. There's gonna be another cycle, and then another one after that, and another one after that, and we all think we know it until we realize we don't. Usually the realization is something that slaps you on the side of the head. So just respecting one another and understanding what each other are doing, it's a good thing.

Dave Sullivan: Well Marty, that's some great information and as I say, the CoffeeShop's all about getting together and talking with each other and sharing information. How can the other contractors get in touch with you?

Marty Stout: My email address is mstout@gorooftune.com, and my phone number is 951-536-8368. Love to have anybody that wants to talk, they can call me.

Dave Sullivan: Fantastic. That's what it's all about. Marty, it was a pleasure talking to you, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Marty Stout: Nice talking with you too. Thanks for the coffee.

Dave Sullivan: You got it. Take care, thanks so much. That's it for the podcast today, I appreciate everybody listening. Be sure to visit therooferscoffeeshop.com, sign up for the forum, get active in the community, ask some questions, offer some answers, and it will make this a great place. You can check out my other podcast at theroofershow.com and see what's that about. Until next time, thanks for listening to therooferscoffeeshop.com podcast.

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