This episode was recorded live from RoofCon! Host Chris Yano and guest co-host “The Jeff” Bowab sit down with Paul Reed, Owner and President of Operations of North West Roofing. Paul Reed is also founder of an amazing organization called Roofers in Recovery, and his story isn’t just relatable for many, it’s a beacon of hope. We talked with Paul about his life leading up to the trades, how he ended up Owner of North West Roofing, and how he’s creating impact investments to leave behind a great legacy for himself and those around him.
Paul has now been in the roofing industry for 30 years, and what a journey it’s been! It all started out with an 18 year-old Paul. He grew up on a farming ranch out in Southern Colorado. He imagined a future like what the rest of his family did – working on the farm or driving a truck. Well, Paul had a cousin that was a roofer. One day, this cousin got into some legal troubles. Paul’s dad bailed him out, and asked Paul to work with his cousin the next week putting a roof on. Paul did, and immediately felt at home. He knew this is what he wanted to do with the rest of his life
While Paul was enjoying the roofing life, he was also enjoying what comes along with it for many in the trades – at least for the next 15 years of his life. He was drinking beers and smoking weed all day. Things progressed to harder drugs. The weed turned into cocaine. Eventually, Paul was using meth.
14 years ago, Paul woke up in a hospital, and ended up in a mental hospital. The drug abuse had completely taken over his life. He was spending 500 dollars a day on dope, and he was now realizing that something needed to change. He went to rehab in Denver, and really just felt like he needed a break. In his mind, he was going to take this rehab break and then be able to go back home and still drink, and maybe enjoy some lighter drugs like heroin and cocaine. He’d be able to keep it under control if he just took this break to sober up a little.
On Day 27 of his 30-day rehab stay, however, something changed. Paul had a moment where God grabbed him and showed him something through another rehab patient. He saw an aura, something that told him there was something better out there. And he desperately wanted it. That day, Paul became committed to taking whatever steps necessary to have it.
In 2007, Paul entered a sober living house. It was a 4 bedroom shared between 24 other men. During that time, he got a job at a roofing company that paid $250/week as a production manager. All he could do during that time was trust God and keep his head down and work. The sober living house rent was $375/month, and Paul was smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day and drinking a 12-pack of Mountain Dew. Coming off a $500/day dope addiction, these vices were considerably different.
“Before I went into rehab, I was doing about 500 dollars a day in dope. Now I’m making 250/week. I don’t know what you have planned, God, but I’m running out of Mountain Dew and Cigarettes here…”
Trusting God, Paul continued to keep his head down and work, trusting in the process and whatever God had planned. After the first year, Paul got a raise to $350/week. He had pretty much just been trusting whoever God put in front of him, knowing that left to his own devices his “plan” wouldn’t lead anywhere good.
On Paul’s third year with the company, the owner approached him. He told Paul he’d never seen anyone work as hard as him or as devoted. He offered Paul 20% of the company, which was doing 30MM. God had provided! Paul continued with that company for a few years, and eventually went their separate easy – splitting the company up in 2012. Paul had gone from $250/week to part owner of a 30MM roofing company. Now, he was once again asking God where to go from here.
Paul decided to start his own roofing business! He wanted to go back home to Southern Colorado. He knew where there were a bunch of old T-lock shingled roofs, and that there were places where no one had ever done any insurance work. He knew he could crush it. And he did. In 30 days, Paul had sold over a million dollars in roofs. He was incredibly grateful to God and so thankful things had worked out as planned. Then, he got a random phone call from someone out in Denver.
The person calling wasn’t someone Paul really wanted to talk to. They weren’t friends, and he was another roofing company owner. Why would he be calling? After ringing several times, Paul decided to pick up the phone. He mustered up the toughest voice he could, putting on a combative front, and answered. The man on the other line responded softly, saying, “Hey, it’s Tom. I don’t know why I’m calling you. I’m on the side of the street eating an ice cream cone, and had a feeling I needed to call you. I want to partner up with you.”
“Hey, it’s Tom. I don’t know why I’m calling you. I’m on the side of the street eating an ice cream cone, and had a feeling I needed to call you. I want to partner up with you.”
Paul was confused. Things were going really well for him, and here Tom was, owner of North West Rooofing – a very, very successful business at the time, wanting to partner with him out of the blue. Tom didn’t need cash equity or help, but was offering Paul to come in and take 33% of the company. Paul told Tom he needed to pray on it, and it kept weighing on him. After some time, Paul felt that it was the right call. He felt like God was pushing him in that direction. So he had to go to wife and say hey, you know the company we just started a month ago? We’re merging it with North West Roofing.
Today, Paul and Tom enjoy a more even split of the company. North West Roofing is at 30MM/year, and has locations in both Denver and Arizona. Paul is really passionate about the service side of things, and is still involved in sales. The company has transitioned from being one of the larger residential roofing companies in Denver to being one of the larger commercial companies. Tom is more involved with the day-to-day operations, and Paul focuses on client relations.
Their focus is on building relationships and experiences for their clients. They want to really be a “partner”, not just some salespeople pushing a product. Paul says he hasn’t sold a roof in a decade, and he means that he hasn’t gone out looking to sell a roof. He simply finds his clients and builds a relationship with them to help them get what they need. Sometimes that’s a roof, and sometimes it’s not. He is very intentional with every client, and doesn’t believe in some catch-all marketing strategy that works for everyone. He learns his customer inside and out, customizing his approach by learning everything he can about the people he serves.
Paul admits, North West Roofing is one of the most under-branded companies in their markets. But that doesn’t concern him one bit. His approach is different. Instead of worrying about seeing his company on billboards, he’s focused on building what he calls a “raving fan network” that will do all of the marketing for him. He finds his customers, targets them, and does everything he can to turn them into a raving fan of the business.
Why? If Paul can turn a big client into a raving fan, he knows he can use that to his advantage. He can tell potential customers to ask that raving fan about North West Roofing, and what they have to say speaks louder than any billboard ever could. That’s powerful. But it doesn’t stop there.
Paul also wants to create raving fans of his employees and their families. That’s the true game-changer. Paul stresses that your biggest customer is your team. Think about how often someone on your team is having issues at home and how that impacts their performance at work. To go a step further, if working for your company is the number one cause of problems at home…you have problems with your company.
A few years ago, Paul discovered that his wife wasn’t the biggest fan of North West Roofing. It’s because he was spending day and night working on the company, and not that much at home. There was no balance. So, he had to work on that. He also realized that this could be happening throughout the company. He asked his team individually if their families were raving fans, and took that feedback to try and improve that. After turning more of their staff and their families into raving fans, things began to flourish.
Paul and his company aren’t perfect, but they try to be 100% intentional about what they do. He wants to make an impact investment by creating raving fans of his customers as well as their employees and families, and that same drive lead him to founding Roofers in Recovery. Substance abuse is quite common in the trades, and Roofers in Recovery is a safe space to reach out for help. It’s a great organization and one of the many ways Paul believes he is making a positive impact on those around him using the platform God gave him. 14 years sober and counting, we’re excited to see where the future takes Paul!