By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
When storms strike the St. Louis area, Ferguson Roofing President Jason Shupp has a conference call with his managers and sets an early morning strategy meeting.
“Our phone blows up,” said Shupp, part of a third-generation team that runs a company founded by his grandfather, Charles Lesniak, 75 years ago. The firm’s six phone lines can stay engaged for 10 hours a day for several weeks.
The conference call and early meeting allow the Ferguson team to map out how best to respond to a disaster, Shupp said. Ferguson Roofing doesn’t knock on doors in storm areas, though supervisors may drive through affected areas to assess the extent of damage and determine priorities.
“We know that we can’t respond to everyone,” Shupp said. The company needs to manage customers’ expectations and concerns, address immediate needs and schedule out less critical inspections.
Ferguson Roofing does about $10 million in business a year, more in years with significant storms. The company offers siding, gutters, windows and attic insulation in addition to roofs.
“Roofing is a hard industry,” Shupp said. “People don’t want to actually have to go through getting a roof,” even though it protects their largest investment. “It’s always ill-timed.”
Shupp and his brother, Brett, took over the company from their father, David Shupp, in 2007, but they didn’t just plop down in executive chairs. Jason said he spent four years working three to six months in every position within the company. Brett did the same when he joined in the late 1990s.
Jason Shupp says two things served him well as he assumed the leadership of the company: “One was realizing I have a lot to learn, and two was to surround myself with resources to advise me and develop business leadership.” He developed close relationships with Ferguson’s banker, accountant, attorney and other professional consultants.
Beyond that, Ferguson has an advisory board that includes himself, Brett, their father and sister as well as three unrelated “professionals we can trust and who have the interest of the family and the business.” They’re also, “people who challenge us,” Jason Shupp said, because he sees no point in having a board that rubber-stamps family decisions.
The family feeling extends to employees and customers, too, Shupp said. “We value what you hold valuable” is a company mantra. He expects his employees to take care of customers like family. Ferguson uses surveys, audits and other tools to assess how well they meet those expectations.
“I personally read every quality survey,” Shupp said, responding as needed. “We take customer feedback very seriously.”
Ferguson has about 25 office, sales and quality control staff members plus about 75 roofing technicians, who are organized into steep-slope and low-slope crews. The crews’ jobs are somewhat seasonal. Besides roofing, Ferguson has technicians for gutters, siding, windows and attic insulation.
Shupp said Ferguson has an extensive hiring and screening process to find employees who will fit in with the company’s culture, which he describes as a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere. He said he’s looking for people with good critical thinking skills who can assess a situation and do what is best.
“We want people who can evolve with their job,” he said.
All new hires spend their first two days sitting with each Ferguson employee to get to know them and learn what they do. Ferguson Roofing mostly hires experienced employees, but direct supervisors work with them to teach their jobs. Shupp also encourages employees to take seminars, training courses and to borrow books from a library in his office.
Ferguson Roofing’s philanthropic activities focus on first responders, such as police, firefighters, EMTs and the military. Shupp is also interested in cycling and the environment, so the company sponsors two cycling teams and a couple of cycling events. It also sponsors some athletic teams that include children of employees.
Ferguson also has a blog that’s hosted on the company’s website. Shupp and other employees use it to help customers understand Ferguson products and services and to explain company culture. On a recent blog, new communications specialist Gretchen Harper discussed the “fun factor” of working at Ferguson, including a monthly “girl’s night” with limousine transportation.
With the environment in mind, Shupp recently had solar panels installed on the roofs of Ferguson’s office and its warehouse to offset some of its power bill. The company also recycles roofing material and other recyclables.
“Roofing isn’t a very green business, but we want to be as green as possible,” he said.
Profiles of BBB Accredited Businesses and BBB Accredited Charities are created as part of BBB’s TORCH Award process and are not intended as an endorsement. Winners will be selected later this summer. This year’s TORCH Awards luncheon will be Oct. 14 at the Chase Park-Plaza.