Quality Work Keeps Roofs Over Their Heads
Tallahassee Roofing Inc. takes the long approach for enduring results
At age 13, Gene Taylor began working his first summer for Tallahassee Roofing Inc., his dad’s Florida-based roofing company. And that’s how he spent many summers, helping the other roofers and learning all he could about the roofing business.
As he was son of the boss, the other workers didn’t know quite what to make of him, Gene remembers, adding that most of them didn’t know if he would work hard or not.
“But, I realized as my father’s son, I was going to have to earn their respect. Eventually, I proved to them that I could work just as hard as they could—on roofs in the heat and the sun,” he says. “And, I continued to work on the roofs with the rest of the guys until I was about 40 years old.”
His hard work and determination paid off because now he is President of the oldest roofing company in Tallahassee, Florida. The company was founded in 1958, and his father, Barney, bought the business in the early 1970s. In those days, the company also performed heating and air conditioning work, but Barney discontinued that type of work in order to concentrate only on roofing.
Gene’s brother Tracy was a longtime lumber salesman who eventually joined the family-owned company and now serves as its Vice President. Gene’s son John and Tracy’s son Robert are the other Taylor family members on the Tallahassee Roofing team.
Tallahassee Roofing installs roofing for commercial as well as residential customers. Residential customers comprise approximately 75% of the company’s business. The roofers install between 250-300 residential roofs each year, with the average roof costing $10,000 to $12,000.
The company is working to add more commercial customers, and in particular, it wants to expand its commercial single-ply roofing division for new construction.
“With today’s roofing products, a roof will last from 25-50 years, making it one of the most important purchases a homeowner will make,” Gene says.
He notes that asphalt shingles come in a wide range of colors and styles. Three-tab shingles are the least expensive asphalt shingles and have an estimated life of 25-30 years. Architectural shingles can last 30-50 years. Specialty luxury heavyweight shingles can look like slate or wood and have an estimated life of 30 years.
Architectural metal roofing is one of the fastest growing types of residential roofs. Available in multiple styles, colors and strengths, they can last 30-50 years. Tallahassee Roofing began manufacturing its own standing seam metal roofing panels in 2015. About the same time, the company joined the PAC Contractors Association whose members manufacture metal roofing products to the same specifications as products made in Petersen Aluminum Corp. plants.
Manufacturing its own metal roofing allows Tallahassee Roofing to reduce its material costs while providing customers with high-quality, American-made steel. The practice also helps avoid delays caused by waiting for panel shipments from an outside manufacturer.
Smooth and Quiet
“You never have to worry about a metal roof if it’s installed properly,” Gene says. “With a metal roof, people are thinking more long term—especially in Florida because of wind damage from hurricanes. In this market, metal is gaining more and more market share.
“Surprisingly, metal roofs aren’t noisier than asphalt shingle roofs because of the insulation,” he adds. “The only complaints I hear about them are from customers who actually want to hear the sound of rain hitting their metal roofs.”
One of their metal residential roof installations in 2015 drew particular raves from the owner as well as many others in the surrounding neighborhood.
“We installed a Galvalume metal roof, which is similar to galvanized steel but it has a coating combination of aluminum and zinc rather than just zinc,” Gene says. “The Galvalume metal roof provides a smaller, smoother spangle that creates a more uniform design. The roof was gorgeous, and everything came together seamlessly. At about 8,000 square feet in size, the roof really made the house,” he says.
Other notable work included installing roofs for about 15 newly constructed McDonald’s restaurants about 15 years ago. The restaurants were located in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. Today, Tallahassee Roofing sticks closer to home with its roofing projects, with most of its work performed within about 100 miles of Tallahassee.
Natural slate is one of the most expensive roof types but it can last as long as 100 years. Synthetic slate roofing is about 40% less expensive than natural and can last 40-50 years. Tallahassee Roofing also installs clay tile roofs, with a 50-100-year life expectancy, and concrete tile roofs, which can last 30-60 years.
Built on Referrals
“Nearly all of our business comes from word-of-mouth referral—the best kind of advertising,” Gene says. “Roofing is not an impulse buy for a customer. Most people want to get a recommendation from a satisfied friend or neighbor.
“We used to advertise on television and radio but now we only advertise on the internet,” he adds.
Gene is proud that his company earned The Governor’s Award in 2019 from CertainTeed for selling the most CertainTeed Integrity Roof Systems of any roofing company in Florida that year.
Tallahassee Roofing performs some roof inspections but total roof replacements and new roof installations comprise the largest portion of its work. Many leaking roofs can be repaired for much less than the cost of replacing the entire roof. His workers repair 800-1,000 roofs annually.
The company earns $5 million to $6 million in annual revenue, and its business has grown 10-15% each year. There are about 25 workers on staff and many of them are long-term employees.
“Our culture is family-oriented, and I do my best to take care of our employees. One of the special things we do is to give all employees’ children birthday gifts until they become teenagers. Actually, I feel like I work for them,” he says.
All employees get full benefits, including paid holidays and vacation plus health insurance.
Gene believes he’s made a commitment not only to the 25 workers but also to their family members who depend on the company’s business success.
Gene is also a big supporter of youth baseball in his spare time.
“I love baseball, so I coach youth baseball, and we give money to youth baseball. We’ve also donated to improve the ballparks in Leon County,” he says. “We also give to a homeless shelter and support ‘Rock the Dock,’ an annual fishing tournament that helps raise scholarships for children for college.”
Never Cut Corners
The Taylors’ mission is the same today as it was when their father started the business over 60 years ago—set the standard for quality that others could follow in the way of materials, installation procedures and custom workmanship.
He says, “Our guys put roofs on every day, and that experience helps ensure that we can provide a really good product.
“We try to approach every roofing job as if it were our own home. I’d rather take a loss on a job than cut corners. In the long run, it always ends up being more expensive if you cut corners,” Gene says. “I think the important thing to remember in business is that it’s not just about the work you get today. It’s making sure that your work holds up so that you’ll have work for the next 20-plus years.”