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S1: E10- Stories From the Roof- Peter Harding - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Stories from the Roof Pete Harding
October 22, 2020 at 10:01 a.m.

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

Heidi Ellsworth: Hello. This is Heidi Ellsworth partner with RoofersCoffeeShop And I am here today with a Stories From the Roof podcast. And I have to tell you, this is going to be a great, this is going to be amazing. I don't know about all of you, but I tend to spend quite a bit of time on LinkedIn. I love it. I love to read the articles and I love to meet the people. And I have found a gem in a gentleman who we connected on LinkedIn and I am so excited to invite Peter Harding with GoGreen Roofing out of California to the show today. Hello, Peter.

Pete Harding: Hello, Heidi. Thank you for having me on.

Heidi Ellsworth: I am just so excited about this. I've been following you on LinkedIn and watching all your posts. We just, you and I have been chatting ahead of time and I think our 12 questions for Stories on the Roof are going to be pretty, as you said, epic today because I love what you're doing. Are you ready to get started with the questions?

Pete Harding: Most definitely. Let's do it.

Heidi Ellsworth: Okay. Real quick. Before we go to number one, do me a favor and just give me a little bit about, and we talked about this earlier, tell me what you do and a little bit about your company.

Pete Harding: Well, my name is Pete Harding. I protect billions of dollars of industry while doing the fourth most dangerous job in United States. Boom.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love that.

Pete Harding: I'm a roofer and GoGreen is the roofing company that everybody said would never happen. Here we are just loving life, loving creating and loving meeting you on LinkedIn and talking to you now.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, between RoofersCoffeeShop and LinkedIn and Facebook and all of this, we've all networked and we've all connected and it's just every day I get excited to meet more people in the roofing industry. Let's hear more about you right now and then we'll finish that up towards the end. But Peter who taught you to roof?

Pete Harding: A guy named Jim Hiel. I grew up with his nine siblings and he started a company out of a little town called Corralitos, which is in between Santa Cruz and Monterey. And it was called Hiel Brand Roofing. And the guy was and is still a genius. He works for somebody else now in the Bay area right here in Santa Cruz area, residential company. But the guy was, he taught me shingles sidewall. That's how I got started was doing shingles sidewall. He taught me how to do ocean waves, diamond, stagger butt, miters and that's all I ever wanted to do was just cedar shingle. That's it. And that started in 1983. Of course he started me tearing off first for five bucks an hour and all the beer I could drink.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.

Pete Harding: How can you refuse that? That was it.

Heidi Ellsworth: That was cool. That is cool. I love that part of the story. What was the most valuable lessons you learned about roofing?

Pete Harding: Patience. Patience, empathy and efficiency. And those three things flow into my everyday life, every moment, especially while driving with patience.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, in California.

Pete Harding: Yeah. The efficiency part in roofing, if you're not efficient, you're not going to make any money because we were piece workers. And I found out real quick if I left my hammer, my ax or my knife on the ground, I knew exactly how much that cost me to climb back down the ladder, get my tools and climb back up because I had the goal of 250 bucks a day and I know how much that breaks down to per minute so if I made a mistake, I knew exactly how much money it cost me.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. That is excellent. And that just really kind of leads into our third question. What was the most valuable lessons you learned about being in business?

Pete Harding: Fail fast and don't be a micromanager. Let your people do what they do. And I can do all the jobs. Can I do them well? No. No way. Not as good as my production manager can, not as good as the foreman can out there, not as good as the superintendents can. I can do them, but not as well as they do because that's what they do. I get out of their way and let them do what they do.

Heidi Ellsworth: That, I've learned that. You and I shared this a little bit ahead of time, but I love our team at RoofersCoffeeShop and the best thing I can do is get out of their way too. I think that is some of the best advice and most valuable lesson. Okay, so along that lines, what is the best thing you ever did for your business?

Pete Harding: Get out of their way.

Heidi Ellsworth: I was going to say. Let me go back.

Pete Harding: It's pretty much the same thing. And just, I really just got sick of myself being afraid to fail and then just got really used to it because that's what we do on a daily basis. And then it's true though, get out of the way of everybody and learn from failing and see everything, every adversity in building your business as an opportunity to learn. And that came with being beaten into submission by being in business.

Heidi Ellsworth: What year did you start GoGreen?

Pete Harding: I actually started GoGreen right at, I got my license in 1999, I believe. And then I had a couple little names and then I was working for another company and this guy was the biggest jerk I have ever. He was awful. And I'm like, man, if this jerk can do this, I can too. And then I went down to the Marine base and they need some coatings on some of the old Gomer Pyle Quonset huts and the guy that ran the Marine base kept saying, "We need to GoGreen. forever my guys are getting sick from zinc oxide and all that stuff. We need to go green."  And then I read a book and it said, you need an action word so I took go green and stuck it together and made an action word. And that was about 2004-ish that I put the name together. And then, because I was just doing it for fun on the side to see if I could do it, to see how hard it was, because this guy that I was working for was just not a good human being. My gosh. Oh my gosh, man. He's horrible. I was just seeing an experiment to see if I could do it. And that's when it started.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's amazing.

Pete Harding: And then I left that company and things took off from there.

Heidi Ellsworth: And today, you just told me this earlier, today you have over a 100 employees.

Pete Harding: Right. I have a 100 employees right now, right just above a 100. But when we're really jamming, we're doing about a 125 to a 135 employees.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is a huge success story. And that's why I love, because like when you're saying, be afraid not to fail, get out of the way. Those things obviously have worked. Look at what you've grown. It's just inspiring.

Pete Harding: It's I think humbling myself too. Knowing that I don't know everything and asking. One of the follow up questions is, what do you think? Okay, I see this roof going down like this, this and this because I'm a roofer, but what do you think? I ask the foreman, I ask the guy loading the tear off truck, what do you think? And what that does is that empowers them as a human being like, hey, this guy cares about my input and what do you think? And then they tell me, "That's a great idea. Let's try it." And so everybody works together on growing this thing. It's not the companies I worked for in the past, like this man I was talking about, his word was say all end all, even if we knew a way better way to do it. No, you don't know. You're just a roofer. Yeah, I'm just a roofer. And the funny thing is, is all his employees now work with me.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.

Pete Harding: Yeah. Because we worked together for decades.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's awesome.

Pete Harding: Asking for input from everybody because everybody, what do we do on a constant basis? We solve problems. That's what we do. That's it. What makes me think I know how to solve a problem better than the guy sweeping the warehouse? Maybe he has a great idea. I'm just saying.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is the exact philosophy I have and I love it. I love it because I think we're all better when we're working together and sharing ideas and open and all generations. I love that. Okay, so going on to kind of on the other side of that, what are your biggest concerns about being in business today?

Pete Harding: That one's a kind of hard one because I just go for it. I'm not afraid to fail. Every failure is a opportunity to grow and learn. But one of the biggest things where you cannot fail, my number one pet peeve and the guys know if I show up on a job and you're not doing it, that's going to be your last day and that's safety. It's I watch these guys on LinkedIn posting videos and I cringe that there's no safety. And I'm thinking, man, if I was a safety guy, I would be all over because you are incriminating yourself on how horrible of a contractor you are. Personally, and this is after I quit drinking, I broke my neck and I broke my back two separate times from not wearing harnesses, for not practicing safety. And to this day I am in pain. I will be in pain for the rest of my life. When I show up to a job, if my guy is not practicing safety, he is let go on the spot and it's not because he's a bad person, he or she is a bad person or not good at what they're doing, it's because I don't want to make the call to their family. And I get choked up about this because I have seen horrendous stuff. And if you've been in the industry as long as I have, which many of these people listening have, it shakes you to your core, somebody getting hurt. And it's not that they're a bad person or anything, it's that this company is just not for you. Because I'm not going to call your wife to tell her that you're injured, paralyzed or dead. I'm not going to do it. And you're not going to put me in that position. It is well known that if I show up and you're near the edge, not tied off or your safety is not done, that is your last day.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's true leadership. That's true leadership and caring about the people that work for you because there's no doubt on what's going to happen and what's expected. That's amazing. And you're right, that is the biggest concern. Just like you said in the beginning, the fourth deadliest job that we're doing and the people in this industry are doing very dangerous things every day. But to have leadership that really puts that first, that's amazing. That's excellent. Okay, along that lines and I have a feeling I know where we're going on this. In one word, describe the most important trait in an employee.

Pete Harding: Well, it's two words.

Heidi Ellsworth: Okay, that's all right.

Pete Harding: Problem solving.

Heidi Ellsworth: Love it.

Pete Harding: Problem solving. These guys we work with on the roof and the guys and ladies are geniuses. They are. I walk up on roofs sometimes and I'm like, "What is that thing you're using?" "Oh, it's a tool I made." Then like, oh my God, it's taken me 30 some odd years in the roofing industry to see that tool. It's like those things where you go, why didn't somebody think of that sooner? And I help these guys, I'm like, "I'm going to introduce you to the patents. How to do patents and stuff." We solve problems and that's the biggest trait. And another one I love, which is not total business thing, but it's I forget. Now I'm spacing it out. Oh man, you got me going.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.

Pete Harding: Pass that.

Heidi Ellsworth: Okay. We'll cut some of it. Megan can edit anything so don't worry. We're good. We're good.

Pete Harding: Oh, it's loyalty.

Heidi Ellsworth: Loyalty.

Pete Harding: The next one, problem solving and loyalty. I like that.

Heidi Ellsworth: I like that too. I agree. Those are two of my top things and again, I'm like always come to me with solutions. I love it. I love people to be thinking on their own. Okay. We're going to change directions here for just a little bit and we're going to actually kind of come back around, but do you belong to any associations related to your business?

Pete Harding: The usual National Roofers Association, Western Roofers Association. I have the real bosses, the ladies in the office, they all belong to National Women in Roofing because they have so much to offer. And they're really not up on using that yet, but they're getting there. And I just think it's so important to do that. And I'm not the best at sharing with National Roofers Association or Western Roofing Association, because I'm constantly swamped. I'm working so much. I'd love to. I'd love to do that. And I kind of have flown below the radar because I have just had my head down working. I think that all roofers should share everything they know with all other roofers through those societies. That's my personal belief.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's awesome. And you know what? We're starting right here on RoofersCoffeeShop. I feel I'm very happy to have you doing that today. And I have to tell you, you just made my day because you probably know from LinkedIn, that I am a huge fan of National Women in Roofing and part of starting that. And so if your ladies in the office need any pointers on how to get involved, we want all women and men involved in National Women in Roofing because it is pretty awesome.

Pete Harding: I didn't even know men could be involved in National Women in Roofing.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. We'll get you as a member.

Pete Harding: Oh, I'd love to be because going back to that, is I have two teenage daughters. I'm a single dad, two teenage daughters that are eyeballing sales jobs at at this company.

Heidi Ellsworth: Awesome.

Pete Harding: And there's no reason why not. Some of the best roofers I've met have been women. And I'm like, this is the field out here in the Silicon Valley is too sparse with not enough ladies in it. I would love to just blow the doors off the industry out here.

Heidi Ellsworth: Perfect. Perfect.

Pete Harding: You might want to edit that.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. You'll be able to listen to it. No worries. Okay. Going kind of back to what we were talking about a little bit earlier, but who was the best boss you ever had? And what did they teach you? What was the main thing you learned from them?

Pete Harding: This is super hard to admit, but I'm going to do it. His name was Jim Eastman and he's still around, he's been roofing and waterproofing or something and he fired me. That was the first time I'd ever been fired. And it was because he had a thing that said no side jobs and I had been brought up in the industry by people doing side work and all this stuff all the time and I did a side job and he found out and one day he invited me into his office and he goes, "Here's your last check." I'm like, "Why?" He's like, "You did a side job." And I'm like, "Well, that's not a big deal." He goes, "We had an agreement." And what it showed me was I just wasn't as honest or the person I thought I was. And that moment, my whole life changed. It shifted everything about me, about how I looked at things and how I treated people. And had I realized that I was taught by a lot of people that weren't very good teachers and my morals weren't right. And it was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Seriously. It was heavy.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is awesome. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Wow.

Pete Harding: Yeah, I send him, I try to every year, send him a Christmas card, just thanking him. Thank you for changing my life.

Heidi Ellsworth: Wow. Have you ever talked about that afterwards?

Pete Harding: Yeah. One time because he does really high end residential, well out here multi-million dollar homes. And he called me up because the company I was working at, we still did built up hot tar and he called me to refer a job to me. And I had the opportunity to absolutely thank him for everything. And every time I see him or I've only seen him once before that time, then he called me with that and I think I say the same thing. I grovel to him. Thank you for doing this for me. I seriously would not be where I am or the person I am today, if that would have not happened.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's awesome.

Pete Harding: I was able to thank him and constantly thanking him, every chance I get.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is so cool. Okay. Oh man. You just gave me chills on that one, Peter. Okay. Our next question, we're on nine in case anybody's counting. What makes you smile when you think about your job?

Pete Harding: Attracting and creating new opportunities for the people that work with me. Every day to give us more opportunities, because people don't realize that if you're a founder or an owner, you're not just worrying about your family or your workers, you're worried about their families. These 125 people, times three, I don't know. I still count on my fingers if you guys, whatever that is, those are the amount of people I'm worried about. How do I expand the opportunity for these people to make more money, to put their kids through school, to have the best Christmases they can? How do I do that? Expand the company and invest in the people I work with. I love it. Investing in other people, being in service to the people that work with me every day so they can live the best lives they can. There was a famous, Jim Rohn said it, "Get as many people as you can what they need and you'll get what they want." And that's what I do.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's excellent.

Pete Harding: That's what makes me smile.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, and that definitely made me smile. I'm telling you. Okay. I think this is going to be an amazing question, I'm excited to hear your answer. If you were going to do it all again, what would you do differently?

Pete Harding: Nothing.

Heidi Ellsworth: Love that.

Pete Harding: No, starting this, starting GoGreen I just went for it and I was never afraid of failing or crashing and burning because I know that's all part of the process. I would do nothing differently at all. I love it.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. I love it. That's how I feel. That's great. Oh, that's perfect. Okay. Any tips for the new guy starting out?

Pete Harding: Do what makes sense to you. Now this is how one of the core things of how GoGreen was built is I do things that make sense to me. Now, if I talked to my production guy and I say, "I'm doing this," and he looks at me like, I'm insane. Then I know I'm probably on the right track. Or if you share an idea with your mom or dad or whoever it is and they go, "No way, that's never going to work." It just doesn't make sense to them. Just do what makes sense to you. Go with your gut, go for it. Don't be afraid to fail. Fail often and just keep going and do what makes sense to you.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's excellent advice. That is excellent advice. Especially as all the craziness is out in the world right now, we have a lot of young people starting out. And so that's excellent. And so this is question number 12, we're going to ask this and then I actually have a couple of things I just want you to share with us, but how do you stay motivated to keep moving forward?

Pete Harding: The opportunities. The creating opportunities for other people. I love that. I love to create opportunities for other people. And in that is I pay for massive amounts of training for anybody who wants to learn anything at my company. We do a lot of work in Nevada and Nevada needs dictates. They want everybody to have at least a 10 hour safety training and then the person that's the foreman needs a 30. I'm like, well, that doesn't make any sense. Why don't I just give everybody a 30? Everybody at the company has a 30, unless they're brand new and we're just getting them into training because that's an investment in them. And as roofers, laborers out there, I feel for them because I was always put down, oh, you're just a roofer. What do you know? This and that. And to have an employer, somebody you work with treat you like a human being and invest in you, you have just created a loyal person forever. They will always remember me because we have big trucks and I'm like, okay, who wants to get their big truck. I don't even know what they call it. Their big truck driving license? Guys raise their hands. All right, we're going to put you through school. It's 1,500 bucks, 80 hours or something. It's nothing in the big scheme of a company, it's nothing. But to invest in a human being, it's paramount to the success of a company. And that's what keeps me moving forward. And I don't roll out of bed. Right at 4:30, I'm out of bed thinking about, how can I pass the blessings on to the people I work with? The people who are doing the fourth most dangerous job on the roof with their harnesses on, practicing safety, what can I do to make their lives easier? And that's one of the questions I ask them every day. How can I help you? Is there anything I can do to make your life easier?

Heidi Ellsworth: What do you need? That's awesome. That is so cool. That's so cool. Those are our 12 questions, but I'm going to take just a little bit of a liberty here at the end because I really want, oh, I'm going to ask you to kind of share what we talked about earlier, about how you started your business, just getting your list of property management and then how you have really kind of transcended that to LinkedIn. If you could just tell that story again. I just want everybody to hear this because I think this is just an amazing story of marketing and really understanding how to move with the times. How to be relevant and differentiate your company. Do you mind sharing that story again with us?

Pete Harding: Not at all. And whoever wants to talk to me about any of this, I'm fully open. When I started GoGreen, it was just me in the garage, actually a trailer. What I did is I printed out, I just Googled commercial property managers, San Francisco Bay area, because that's where I'm located. And I pinpointed all of them on a map up through the peninsula, up through Santa Rosa, across the bridge, back down through Oakland, back down to Santa Cruz, where I live. And every day I would drive to at least seven or 10 of them with a card, with little pamphlets, sometimes candy or whatever and walk in and ask them if they have any work. And usually it was no, thanks for coming by. But every day. Each one of these places would see me once a week, like clockwork on the same day and I'd walk in and sometimes they'd say, "No, we don't have anything. You don't need to keep coming in. Actually, you know what? Bob over here might have something or Linda has something." I slowly wore them down because what I saw was is when I started the company, everybody was doing these email blasts and they're doing these mailers where you get 1% back on a mailer and they thought that was good. I'm like, that's a fricking joke. You're not going to spend $10,000 to get 1% back. It's just a nightmare. And that's just the financial part. I go, you know what? I'm going old school. How did everybody else used to do it? We used to take a pen and paper and we used to walk into buildings and go, "I'm here to look at your roof." Or, "Do you have any roofs for me to look at?" And it worked. And I got clients after client, after client, after client. And that's how I did it. And then this COVID thing hit and I've always been kind of messing around with LinkedIn, trying to make roofing interesting. And I just had this different look at LinkedIn because I've tested it with different hashtags, different posts, different headers and I do all these beta tests to it to see. And then I track them to see which type of pitcher, which type of header, which type of hashtags get the most likes or views or comments. And I started noticing that and then COVID hit. And I'm like, this is just like walking into an offer. That's what I did. I started just trying to create conversations because I am a social person. I love to sit here and talk to people, not necessarily about roofing, but whatever, life, because we're humans, we all have the same trials and tribulations and it's life is just not easy for anybody. I strike up conversations and last year, just with two or three new clients just off of LinkedIn, because I'm a data freak, I did over a million dollars worth of work from LinkedIn. Period. Two clients.

Heidi Ellsworth: Wow.

Pete Harding: And that's it. It just takes out one phone call. That's proverbial phone call. But I love LinkedIn, 0I don't do Facebook. I don't do any other advertising because I'm of the older generation and I'm not exactly sure how to go through all that stuff. But LinkedIn is the greatest platform for roofers. I could totally expand for so long on this because I've been messing with LinkedIn and its algorithms for so long that I have this whole recipe on how to be successful on LinkedIn. I could go on for hours about it because I love it. Go ahead.

Heidi Ellsworth: Let's get another podcast on that, let's do that, Peter. We'll have another one and we'll just talk about, I would love to just spend 30 minutes talking about LinkedIn. And I think there's a lot of people out there because in all of my speaking engagements and when I'm talking to folks, I'm always like, if you're a commercial roofing contractor and you're not on LinkedIn, you're totally missing it. And so it sounds like we have a similar passion.

Pete Harding: I do. I'm very passionate about it and it's not just about being on LinkedIn. It's on how you are on LinkedIn. It's how you're presenting yourself and your company. And it's just it's been the greatest tool. This year even though it's been a slower year and it's been a weird year, that I just looked at 20 well actually 19 buildings this week from a lead off of LinkedIn. 19 buildings in my neighborhood.

Heidi Ellsworth: Wow.

Pete Harding: And it's incredible.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. Wow. Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you so much. I'm really blown away with the 12 questions and just everything. Peter, we're going to be in touch and we're going to do another one just on LinkedIn. And I can tell everybody out there, I think you're going to be seeing a lot more of Peter. If you aren't on LinkedIn connected with him, you should do it. Definitely follow RoofersCoffeeShop. We have all of our articles and lots of great conversations on there. And I just want to say, Peter, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing your wisdom, your advice and your story. I've just been, I'm blown away.

Pete Harding: Well, I'm really blessed to be here on your podcast. I've used RoofersCoffeeShop since the days of when the only way you knew about it was a cardboard little stand at the local ABC Warehouse.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love that.

Pete Harding: I love it. And just real quick, I'm an open book. If anybody has any questions about anything, I'm here for them because I think that if we share our information, it'll bring the whole industry to the next level and that's where we need to be.

Heidi Ellsworth: Exactly. Exactly. Wow. Thank you. Thank you. And anybody who's listening, as you're listening to this, you're going to be able to find Peter on RoofersCoffeeShop. We'll have a blog on this. You'll be able to connect with him, GoGreen Roofing and he'll be back too. Peter, thank you so much and thank you everyone for listening. Be sure to visit all of our podcasts on under the read, listen, watch navigation on rooferscoffeeshop.com and have a spectacular day. Thank you so much.

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