By Lauren White, RCS Reporter.
Roofing company owner, Marine veteran, family man and dedicated community member, Ernie Martinez is the recipient of the RoofersCoffeeShop® (RCS) Box of Love! This country boy from Wyoming has traveled the world through his service as a Marine in Vietnam and by chasing storms as a roofing professional. Now he is the owner of Mason City Roofing and has been for over 20 years.
Growing up, Ernie’s dad had a roofing apprenticeship at Hildebrand Ranch. After the ranch broke up and Ernie’s parents separated, his dad went to work waterproofing missile silos. As Ernie got older, he started roofing with his father during the summers at a Colorado Springs union shop and then in Pueblo, Colorado. When the draft came, Ernie went overseas to serve in Vietnam, and then served in the Marine Security Guard (MSG) in Managua, Nicaragua following the earthquake that struck on December 23, 1972.
After he returned to the states, Ernie went to USC for a year and a half while working part time stocking trucks for BUR and coal-tar pitch jobs. Ernie joined the local roofing union #58 in Colorado Springs and worked part time at Central State Roofing, which was started by the Douglass family in 1924. Ernie participated in an apprenticeship program for five years where he learned every kind of roofing, waterproofing and damp proofing. When his boss, a female, commented that roofers make great salesmen, Ernie became a salesman. After his boss passed away, the dynamics of his work changed, which is when Ernie left the company and started chasing storms.
Ernie traveled all over the country working storms in the 1990’s. In St. Louis, he was responsible for 25 crews and he trained them on “the right way to do things.” Ernie eventually tired of the traveling life and “wanted to stay put for a while.” After his wife had watched the movie “Field of Dreams,” they decided to settle in Iowa, which is where Ernie became a performance contractor at ELK, then became a GAF Master Elite, and also became a master Duro-Last contractor. “Workmanship is everything, you can’t cut corners,” a philosophy in which Ernie lives by. Iowa is also where he became the third owner of Mason City Roofing which started in 1933 by the L. Fox family.
Ernie is proud to report that Mason City Roofing is “Veteran owned, Woman owned, and Family owned.” He runs the company with his wife, Minon. Their son, Derrick is the superintendent and goes out into the field to take measurements. Watching his son work makes Ernie “feel young again.” Wendy, their daughter, also works for the family company, but primarily works in senior health care and is on the Iowa state board for suicide prevention.
Mason City Roofing specializes in both commercial and residential work. This year the split has been 50/50 for commercial and residential projects. The company also focuses on ventilation and makes sure downspouts have extensions to keep water away from building foundations. In Ernie’s experience, many people in Iowa don’t understand ventilation and the foundations of homes aren’t waterproofed, which is problematic since Iowa gets an average of 34 inches of rain per year.
In addition to assisting people with their roofing and waterproofing needs in the Mason City area, Ernie is very involved in giving back to his community. “I’m a jarhead. I’m very big on helping veterans and a lot of other things in my community,” he shared. Ernie is the Marine Corps League and the Toys for Tots coordinator for 13 counties, he donates books to daycare centers for single mothers and is actively involved in suicide prevention efforts. He lost his oldest son to suicide and has since become dedicated to educating others on mental health and depression.
Ernie is also a dedicated RoofersCoffeeShop follower and stated, “I really do appreciate all you do. I think it’s a great site. I go in and watch the videos and watch them with my roofers.” His response to the “Answer Me This!” question of the week, sponsored by the Construction Solutions Campaign from Gibraltar Building Accessories, earned him an RCS Box of Love, which is full of swag from the Coffee Shop, including a fandana, which he has already worn as a facemask.
Ernie has traveled the world, he has served the United States and he continues to serve the people of Mason City with pride. Ernie is a dedicated business owner, family man and community member. As Ernie would say, “Stay safe out there. OORAH!”
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