Switching on to Roofing

Today’s business environment can be a very challenging place to operate in, especially for the owners of small companies. Garry Lawrence Roofing Ltd, based in Greenlane, Auckland, takes on much of the work that others may not, however earning enough from these smaller jobs to justify the time, health and safety costs, and risk of the leak repair being multi-sourced and requiring further work, is a constant challenge. The need to quote with sufficient margins to secure work to fund overhead costs is a perennial problem – he finds that many property owners are unwilling to pay for actual costs of providing quality roofing services.

Garry does not compete on price and discourages approaches from those who want the best job for the lowest price. A skill that Garry brings to this venture – one acquired from lengthy service in the education and banking sectors – is an ability to recognise talent in people and to harness that potential in a roofing context. It’s a skill which transfers well to the roofing sector when attracting the right people.

Garry started his business in 2009, focusing on property maintenance and building work, then roofing repairs followed by re-roofing work. Having grown to a staff of five employees, the business model now uses self-employed contractors, hand-picked by Garry for the range of services the company provides. At the helm, in addition to securing the work and overseeing the jobs, Garry manages accounts, health and safety, employment, business planning and profitability.

As the firm moves into more complex contracts, LBP builders work with Garry to satisfy a growing call for upgrades involving the structures where maintenance and reroofing is required. The company recently completed a contract to carry out several overdue maintenance matters on an 1890s villa in Herne Bay (see image above). The partial restoration of this building involved re-piling two sides of the house using professional house lifters, re-building the turret inside and out, restoring windows and an ornate Victorian coloured glass window, which had blown out in a storm, installing a new water line for a new on-demand hot water cylinder installation, rebuilding the steps of an imposing Victorian front entrance, rebuilding chimney tops, replacing veranda roof framing, and partially re-roofing in like-for-like metal sheeting. This 15-month-long contract was successfully concluded in mid 2019.

Garry learns a lot from each and every job performed – “it keeps you sharp”, he says, and joining RANZ was a sound move as the company makes strides in the difficult market of restoration and re-roofing. “It’s important that we belong to a professional organisation and that we demonstrate to clients that we meet certain standards and are professional and proud of what we do,” he says.

Word of mouth has been by far the most beneficial marketing exercise: happy clients translate to more referrals and Garry is intending to build the business to having up to two years’ work on the books. The Grey Power magazine provided some early responses but recommendations from satisfied clients has been the cornerstone of the company’s growth. Good communication with clients, respecting them and making them feel involved in the process is Garry’s formula for good marketing. Public referrals from RANZ have also made a significant contribution.

For Garry the attraction in roofing maintenance, re-roofing and restoration is, “...the interesting nature of the trade: to see the job look good and being able to admire it, knowing it is going to be a repair or a re-roof that lasts, and being able to complete work quickly so clients do not have to wait a year to finish. Then there are the intrinsic rewards – loving the responsibility of heading up a professional team of roofers, and delivering jobs to the highest standard.”