Hunter Ballew, Founder of Roofing.com, RoofCON, REVOLT, and several other exciting marketing and roofing contracting ventures joins To The Point to share his story. Hunter not only started and grew a successful roofing company, he also had a highly successful exit and continues to dive in deep to his many other endeavors. What you might be surprised to find is that much of what has made Hunter successful is not just for the roofing industry—you can apply his strategies and mindset no matter what trades you’re in. From HVAC contractors to plumbing, electrical, and more, Hunter has the keys to growing your business and separating yourself in your market.
Echoed by many of our To The Point guests, Hunter’s story is one where the trades found him. Joining the roofing industry certainly wasn’t the goal from the start. Right out of high school, Hunter joined the Marines Corp, where he served in the reserves for several years. During this time, he was also working part time in the fire department. He would go on to work full time for the fire department until branching out on his own, entering the world of marketing and consulting. Hunter found himself working with some roofers, and he discovered that he liked the industry and saw some great ROI in the business and perhaps opportunities for his career. He started Cornerstone Construction as sort of a “case study” in 2016.
After launching Cornerstone, Hunter would go on to build the website out, and fully roll out the company in Spring of 2017. He started with the goal of getting to a million dollars, and used RoofGen, another of his ventures, for his lead generation. It didn’t take Hunter long to realize that he truly enjoyed interacting with homeowners, building his brand and a team, and being able to give back to the community through the business. However, it wasn’t until early in 2019 that he really started to take things seriously.
Hunter hit his million dollar goal in 2017, and then reached 2 million in 2018, but when he got serious, he reached 5 million dollars in revenue. Even during COVID, Cornerstone reached 8 figures by July. Despite the success, Hunter isn’t one to stagnate. He was already looking at the next big thing, and started to consider his exit strategy. He joined several Masterminds groups, investing 6 figures into figuring out how to best build the value of his company and earn a higher multiple than most people would. One of these masterminds, which Hunter paid $750,000 for, set him up with a strategic buyer who was looking for exactly what Hunter had built. The investment was a great one, as Hunter’s influence and leverage in the industry along with having a great business contributed to a great exit.
Sure, the owner of a plumbing company may not be the best resource for an HVAC company trying to determine the best IAQ products to carry, but if it’s on how to leverage a relationship with a manufacturer, what difference does the industry make? The same goes for roofing, electrical, and any other trades. The cores of your business from lead generation, training, leadership, vision, financials, and the other keys to success are transcendent to the industry you’re in. We’re seeing more and more that actually going outside of your industry to find new and innovative ideas is highly valuable, and Hunter recognized that from the start.
As M&A continues to be a continual topic of discussion in the trades, we’re seeing roofing contractors being another target for acquisition. Why? For all of the same reasons. There is much more overlap between the trades that most realize, and learning from each other just makes sense any way you look at it.
As Hunter puts it, it’s not hard as a contractor to separate yourself from the next guy and create some distance. It just takes putting the hammer down and getting serious about it. For Hunter, the most important thing and first step was to surround himself with the right people. In order to do that, you have to have a big vision and sell people on that vision. You also need to fine-tune your recruitment funnel. Hunter automated the recruiting process, filtering out as many candidates as possible so that when someone finally came through the door, it was all but guaranteed they were a good fit.
The rest of it comes back to your vision, and selling others on that vision. What sets you apart? What makes working for you better, and what opportunities can your team expect if they put the work in? Being committed to your people and giving them the tools, training, and technology to create a better life for themselves as long as they put forth the effort is how you create a team that stands apart from the rest. The rest is your technology, proprietary information, training, and great social marketing. You have to set yourself and your team up for success, and then be different from others in a valuable way.
Just like any business, having an operating system for your business is key. Most companies don’t, and essentially shoot from the hip day to day. It’s more of a battle for survival; being reactionary instead of having the ability to plan ahead. Having established systems for each part of your business is not simply how you organize things, it’s how you create a culture of smooth, seamless operational fluidity from one process to the next. It’s what enables businesses to stop being held hostage to every snag throughout the day, and to have a clear process for how to deal with different situations and problems.
Having an operational system gets your team on the same page so that collectively, together, you can move the business forward.
There are lots of different manufacturers in the roofing world, just like any other trades. These manufacturers provide support for your training, sales, and lots of other aspects of your business. You just have to ask for it! Leveraging the relationships you have in any partnership, whether it’s with a manufacturer, supplier, or other business, is a strategical necessity. Hunter was able to realize close to $400,000 in cash benefits through his manufacturer and supplier relationships. He simply asked! They were able to have support in funding for things like hats for the team, trucks, retreats, and more.
While ego can often get in the way of asking for help, you can’t let it stop you when it comes to your business. Manufacturers have to spend this money, and they’d rather spend it on you because they know investing in you benefits them as well. You make more money, you’ll be spending more with them. They treat you right, you’ll stay with them for a long time. It goes both ways, too. By investing in these relationships, you can have support when you need it. Build a true partnership; don’t just shop around for who is the cheapest and only talk when you need something.
Just like your average consumer doesn’t know the difference between a standard central AC unit and two-stage systems, people don’t generally know much about roofing. You have to establish your brand and train your team so that your customers will trust you to educate them about what’s best for them. Once you’ve established your brand, built your team, and have things running smoothly, expansion may be on the horizon.
Hunter found that the process is pretty simple when it comes to getting into a new market. From an operational standpoint, most of it is the same. He found suppliers in the new area, hired the right people, and used the same training and processes. What he points out is that it really comes down to leadership.
If you’re going to be successful, you have to have the right guy in the right seat to get the right people, have the right vision, and get the team on the same page. Hunter also strongly believes that a good leader has to invest in their people. Not just what they bring to the company, but making sure that they are happy at home and in their personal lives.
REVOLT, presented by Roofing.com, is a Mastermind for contractors. There are free retreats every month, with no catch and lodging taken care of. For 2 ½ days, about 30-40 contractors from all over the country come together and go through training that changes businesses—but most importantly—lives. It’s part of Hunter’s “impact over income” focus. The first day of each retreat is about self-worth, not net worth. Day two is helping with everything you can imagine to get the most out of your business. At the end, if you’re interested, you can pay for membership that includes exclusive retreats, tickets to RoofCON, training, and more.
Hunter started RoofCON in 2018. It was his vision to not just help roofers learn how to grow their businesses but to become better leaders, grow and pour into their team, and to not have all of the weight of the business on their shoulders. Like many of Hunter’s endeavors, it’s focused on self-worth and not just net worth.
RoofCON has quickly grown to serve more than just the roofing industry. From marketing and sales to building your own self-worth, there is an incredible lineup of speakers and panelists at the upcoming RoofCON this September 30th-October 2nd in Orlando, FL. In fact, To The Point‘s very own Chris Yano will be a keynote speaker! Plus, as a special benefit to our listened, Hunter is extending a $100 discount for using the code “RYNO” when purchasing tickets.
There is a ton of power in getting around people from other industries. It’s why Hunter spends six figures on Masterminds every year. Take from other industries, and innovate in your own to separate yourself from the competition. If you’d like to learn more or connect with Hunter, you can find information on Roofing.com, or even reach out on Hunter’s Facebook page.