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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 2 years ago

Blow the doors off

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Crown Roofing LLC expects another year of growth and expansion, after it surpassed $50 million in revenue in 2016. One big sign: It might buy a crane in 2017.
by: Beth Luberecki Contributing Writer

A move to a new corporate office off Fruitville Road in Sarasota has been a big relief for Crown Roofing Crown Roofing. With 8,000 square feet and an acre of parking, it better suits the needs of this fast-growing roofing contractor than its previous space, which had only 3,000 square feet and limited parking.

“We've been able to spread people out so they can work more efficiently and not be stacked on top of each other,” says company co-founder and President Guil Geneau. “Moving into this office has been a godsend. It's always a pain to move, but everyone is so much better for it.”

Efficiency is important for the firm, which hit $50 million in sales in 2016 and expects to grow that number by at least 10% in 2017. Some of that growth will come from its Miami-area office, which recently moved to bigger space in Pompano Beach and started adding residential clients to its previously commercial-only customer base.

New residential construction work does, after all, pay the bills, admits Geneau. And while that work is plentiful these days, he and his business partners are also making sure Crown Roofing is well positioned to ride out the next residential building slowdown, whenever it comes. “When that does wind down, if we have roots in re-roofing and service and are known as commercial contractors as well, we will still be around,” he says. “So we keep focusing our efforts on doing a good job on our residential projects but also keep the horizon very broad.”

Labor remains a challenge for Crown Roofing, as it does for most others in the construction industry. That will be an area of focus in 2017, with an effort to bring new blood into the industry through internships and training programs.

“We give incentives and bonuses to crew leaders for taking on the role of helping to train guys who are green,” says Geneau. “There are only so many people in our industry. If we don't bring new people in and train them, then we all go away.”

It helps that the firm's partners and managers are well tapped into the labor pool in the markets they serve, thanks to previous connections forged while working at other companies. And they make efforts to keep the good staff they already have on board.

“We like to do events for the guys to get some interaction between the labor force,” says Geneau. “It helps give them more of a sense that we're not just big brother over here paying your paycheck. We're actual people, and we understand they're people, too.”

The company has more than 350 employees spread across its Sarasota, Fort Myers, Orlando and Pompano Beach offices. A new office is on tap for Fort Myers in 2017. It will be built on land the firm bought a year ago across the road from the office space it leases now.

“That office has blown out its doors,” says Geneau. “We just had the land surveyed and hope to go vertical in the first quarter of 2017.”

It may also be the year when Geneau and his partners finally buy a crane instead of renting one when needed. “In the beginning of 2017,” he says, “we're probably going to have to bite the bullet.”

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