In an industry known for seasonal work and transient labourers, A. Clark Roofing & Siding is showing Alberta how a roofing company can go the distance. This year is its 70th anniversary; a landmark occasion for any business but especially one of this kind. What’s the secret?
For Jay Dunlop, general manager, it’s not a secret at all. It’s a value the founder injected into the brand from day one. Thanks to this value, which is infused in every aspect of the business, A. Clark continues to grow and thrive. That value is: building relationships.
“Archie Clark founded the company in 1953, after serving in World War II,” says Dunlop. “At that time, it was just him and his brother. They launched in Calgary but over time moved the headquarters to Edmonton. For Archie, business is all about relationships – with the people on your team, the community, clients and suppliers. Relationships were the key.”
That value is still what the company stands on today.
“What Archie was hoping for,” Dunlop continues, “was to be one of the most respected roofing companies. Not the biggest, just the best.”
It’s safe to say that Archie got his wish. Alongside numerous Readers’ Choice awards from Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun, A. Clark is the longest serving member in the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) as a member since 1954; has maintained a 60-year record in good standing with the Better Business Bureau; and has a nearly perfect 5/5 star rating from hundreds of reviewers on Google, Facebook, HomeStars and GuildQuality.
Dunlop points out the significance of these milestones, saying, “After the last big hailstorm in Calgary, over 100 ‘roofing companies’ popped up overnight. This is a very cutthroat industry with no barriers to entry. You only need a truck and tools to call yourself a roofer and it is very easy for people to make it seem like they know what they are doing. We have a full-time service department that spends a lot of time helping homeowners fix ‘fixes’ that should never have happened in the first place.”
Although Dunlop joined A. Clark 10 years ago, he is no stranger to the company. He is also a testament to how relationship building starts internally.
“The people we hire have been around for a long time and come from diverse backgrounds. Working together as a team, we have the experience to solve all sorts of roofing and siding problems. With all due respect to our partners in the industry, there are times we get referrals from other roofing companies when they run into a project they are not equipped to handle. We love being trusted to accept these challenges as a team.
“I’m the third generation in my family to work here. My father worked for A. Clark as did my grandfather. The Clarks are entering their third generation here too. This is truly a family-style business. Even though I left and explored other options and schooling, I kept coming back to this. I really enjoy helping people understand the problems with their roof and being part of an experienced, reliable solution for our clients.”
Relationship building is very evident in how A. Clark works with homeowners. Dunlop is happy to explain.
“When we think of relationships with our clients, we strive to understand what the communities we serve need. One big aspect is quality control. That is why we physically inspect roof projects upon completion. Service is a big part of what drives us. I remember a few times going up on a roof and a homeowner or neighbour being surprised. When they ask why I was there, I say we always check to make sure the job was done well. We are always trying to make sure we are doing the right thing and that our customers are happy. We are honest. If a roof doesn’t need to be replaced, we say so. We never sell a service or product that is not needed.”
Despite providing a great corporate culture, the reputation of roofing makes finding team members a challenge. For Dunlop, this is a symptom of a larger problem involving all the trades.
“It’s tough to find people who want to work in roofing because our industry needs to find better ways to connect and draw people into the trades. It may not be flashy work, but it is very rewarding and interesting.”
To help promote roofing and the trades, A. Clark is active with a variety of organizations including the Edmonton and Calgary Construction Associations, CHBA and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
Dunlop has wise advice for those thinking about roof repair or replacement, and he bases this advice on the experience of a company that has seen and done it all over the past 70 years.
“Do it right the first time. Invest in your roof. You may save money by going with a low-cost service provider or low-cost materials but think about how your roof protects your home over the long-term. That is exactly what is protecting your home and its many systems. The roof is not something to overlook. If you are not maintaining your roof, you risk problems that are not visible now but are very costly later. If you avoid maintenance, you can void your warranty and maybe even your insurance. Taking care of your roof prevents issues and extends its life.”
When on a roof project, A. Clark helps homeowners understand the bigger picture.
“All your systems are interconnected, like the vents and gutters. This is why, apart from safety and liability, it is very important to have an experienced team for roof work. It’s just too easy to overlook something due to inexperience. Additionally, when the roof is open, that may be the only time to take care of other projects, such as applying spray foam in a vaulted ceiling. Full re-roofs don’t happen often for homeowners so when they do, you want to address all the related systems when it is the most cost effective and reasonable to do so.”
He has further advice for those living in homeowner associations (HOAs).
“We have seen many instances where homeowners did not check with their HOA before doing a roofing project. Using an unapproved product could lead to a re-roof. Always check those HOA standards!”
A. Clark has been widely praised and recognized numerous times over the years for its work in the industry and giving back to the community. However, instead of pointing to trophies and plaques, Dunolp says the biggest reward is, “Hearing that we did a good job. Hearing that a person on the team went above and beyond. Hearing that our customers are happy with our service.”
When not on roofs or re-siding buildings, you’ll find A. Clark giving back in and around Edmonton and Calgary. The company supports STARS by working on their lottery showhomes and also supports Little Warriors and Wellspring Alberta.
Dunlop is excited about the future of A. Clark.
“On behalf of the team we say thank you to our founder Archie and also to his son Doug, who has been running the business for the last few decades and doing a wonderful job of maintaining what his father started. Doug’s sons are now coming into the business and will be the third generation. Like his father, who is the company president, they will ensure the company stays close to its founding fundamentals.
“Going on three generations in an industry where companies come and go quickly is an honour. We will continue to hire the best staff and stay true to who we are. As technology changes a lot of roofing companies are becoming more distant. They quote the roof using satellite imagery and send a quote online. It is possible to set up a project without talking to a single person! We won’t do that. We continue to adopt industry technology but we will always value being face-to-face with our customers and physically on their roofs so we can fully understand the project and discuss it with the property owners. We use tech, but not in a way that changes our foundation or impacts our relationships.
“In that respect I don’t think we have to change. We don’t want to change. There is no reason to change. Simply put, we care about our service towards our team and our customers. So, to us, the future means we keep doing what we have been doing.”
It’s a good plan. After all, it has got them this far for 70 years.
Learn why A. Clark Roofing & Siding has been going strong for seven decades by visiting them online (www.aclark.ca) and on Facebook.