RoofViews

In Your Community

Roof Raisers: Celebrating Thanks and Giving with Straight Line Construction

By Don Kilcoyne

November 27, 2019

GAF Roof Raisers

Few days inspire us to pause and reflect the way Thanksgiving does. The final Thursday of each November, millions of Americans sit down with friends and family to acknowledge our blessings. And while most of us focus on the "thanks" part of the day, some find just as much inspiration in the second half of the word: "giving."

That's why, this month, GAF Roof Raisers salutes GAF Master Elite® Contractors Jack Borba and Straight Line Construction of Shingle Springs, California. For the thirteenth straight year, Jack and Straight Line have hosted the Thanks and Giving customer appreciation party — a community gala that has created more than $1,000,000 in purchasing power for the Food Bank of El Dorado County. The 13th annual Thanks and Giving party was held on Saturday, November 9, and featured more than $6,000 worth of donated raffle prizes, live music, and great food. They raised a record $26,000 in direct donations, enabling over $180,000 in food to be purchased for the local community.

an you picture yourself raising funds for a food bank? Courtesy Straightline Construction

Can you picture yourself raising funds for a food bank? Courtesy Straightline Construction

Because of the Food Bank's unique ability to purchase food at steep discounts, donations made through events like the Thanks and Giving dinner multiply dramatically in value. Straight Line matches all raffle ticket purchases, doubling every dollar donated. Then, the Food Bank is able to buy about $7 worth of food for every dollar. Effectively, every dollar donated equals $14 in food purchasing power.

Third-Generation Contractor

Recognizing his blessings is as much a part of Jack's character as his love of building. He's a third-generation contractor with a legacy going back 70 years. His grandfather started a construction company in the 1950s. His dad followed suit in the 1970s, and Jack launched Straight Line in the 1990s. All three companies are still in business.

Jack grew up, with his three younger brothers, in a two-bedroom mobile home that his parents had parked on a 10-acre property in the foothills of Sacramento. His dad logged the property, hand-milled the timber, and built a mission-style house from the ground up. "It took many years. We finally moved in when I was 13," said Jack. "But it was so cool to see this house kind of grow in the backyard. In my mind it was like this castle. And so, when we finally moved in, it was just concrete floors, no carpets, and stuff. Even though it was unfinished, I had fallen in love with construction watching it rise, and all of my brothers did as well."

Jack's dad started grooming him to continue in the family trade at a very young age. "My dad put me up on a little tear-off when I was, like, seven years old," said Jack. There was a section of roof under an overhang that no one else could fit into, so up Jack and his brother went. "We tore that little piece off, and I guess that was my start, right there!"

His dad was also an educator, teaching entrepreneurial classes at local schools. Jack attended the classes and was able to start two businesses for himself by the age of 13. "The first one was a pony ride business, up in the Apple Hill Market. It was pretty cool," he said. "I sold my first horse and bought six ponies. And I got to file my first tax returns when I was 14!"

Around the same time, Jack also started a landscaping business. His first customer was a local woman who hired him to do weeding and lawn mowing. Ten years later, her daughter hired him to install one of his first roofs. And 10 years after that, when Straight Line was contracted to roof a large apartment complex, Jack asked the owner where she got his name. "Oh, you know that lady you did the lawn work for?" she replied. "That was my grandma. And the lady you did that first roof for? That was my mom. And now you're doing my apartment complex."

"It's kind of crazy," Jack reflected, "how your history can come back to bless you."

Straight Line — a Brand Name and a Point of View

Aside from hard work and striving to get it right, there's no true "secret" to Straight Line's success. But there is a clue hiding in plain sight: the name "Straight Line." Jack explained that his dad and grandfather have always been fanatical about using chalk lines, truing things up, and making sure everything on the job was as precise as possible. When young Jack and his teen-aged friends had worked with other roofers, the other guys made fun of the good habits they'd learned. They said they didn't need to rely on "straight lines." Jack told them, "Well, when we start our business we're going to call it 'Straight Line.'" And so he did.

In the beginning, "Straight Line" was known for their dependability — showing up on time, truing up their work when others were eyeballing everything, and creating professional estimates when their competitors were still jotting down numbers on napkins. Today, as a company of 70, it also stands for having the right personnel in place, utilizing the Entrepreneurial Operating System for systematic business growth, and giving back to the community in which they have thrived.

The same passion for excellence that earned two teenagers ridicule now earns the company five-star reviews. "Today, it's about being quality focused and doing the right thing by your customers," said Jack. "And if that means it costs more and that comes out of your pocket, you do that."

Sharing Blessings

It's no wonder Jack considers himself amply blessed. He's the protege of successful contractors. Raised to love hard work and be fanatical about quality. And through his hard work and the good example he observed in others, he was able to buy his own home by age 20. And today, through his company and the Thanks and Giving party, he's sharing those blessings with his employees, customers, and the homeless community of El Dorado County.

This Thanksgiving, we hope all of our readers have the good fortune to be safe and dry, surrounded by family and friends. For those who are not so fortunate, our hope is that someone in your community is as committed to giving as our Roof Raisers, Jack Borba and the good folks at Straight Line Construction.

About the Author

Don Kilcoyne, a writer and editor for GAF, crafts marketing campaigns and language that communicate the company brand, initiatives, products, and priorities in video, print, and social media, as well as GAF Roof Views. He joined the GAF team in late 2016, bringing a background as a creative director and author.

Related Articles

Andrew Prchal and Eddie Prchal at the GAF WealthBuilder Conference.
Residential Roofing

Roof Raisers: Gunner Roofing's Focus on Innovation and Service Leads to Success

Buying a roof online can be as easy as ordering from Amazon, thanks to a new online roofing platform by Gunner Roofing. Its industry-changing innovation won the Connecticut-based company the esteemed recognition of Cutting-Edge Contractor at the 2023 GAF WealthBuilder Conference and Expo in Austin, Texas.Leading with Customer ServiceInnovation is a main focus for co-founders (and brothers), Andrew Prchal and Eddie Prchal, but customer experience is the force that drives Gunner Roofing. "Every aspect of our business is customer experience," Eddie notes in an online interview with GAF CARE.In their quest to perfect their customers' experiences, the Prchal brothers considered how to simplify the roof-buying process. This led to the innovative idea to create an online roof estimation and purchasing platform. "The [roof-buying] program is a part of us," Eddie explains. "We designed the platform for our brand, thinking of our customers, wanting them to have a specific experience each step of the way."Simplifying Customer ExperienceThe Gunner Estimator does away with lead follow-up phone calls, sales visits, and hassle. "People can interact with the quote process in their own way, on their own time," Andrew says. Instead of communicating with a sales representative, customers enter their contact information and address into Gunner Roofing's easy-to-use website. Within hours, they're emailed a detailed roofing estimate with an interactive 3D model of their home and proposed roof.The 3D model lets customers visually experiment with their options. They can select different shingle colors, siding materials, and additional features like skylights. Once the customer is happy with the roof design and price, they can purchase the roof and schedule their installation online—all without talking to a person (unless they prefer to). It's fast, easy, and pressure-free for buyers."Customers aren't as hesitant to seek out quotes because it won't mean 10 people contacting them and then being on a call list," explains Andrew.Revolutionizing Lead GenerationBoth customers and contractors win as a result of the company's proprietary new software. The increased accessibility has also increased interest among homeowners and property managers, which has led to a surge in requests.The Prchal brothers say that during the first month of the program launch, Gunner Roofing received a double-digit jump in quote requests. Overall, they've seen a 50% increase in their lead volume. In fact, Andrew shared that two new customer quote requests came in through their website in the 20 minutes the brothers were on stage presenting their program to fellow GAF Master Elite® Contractors* at the 2023 GAF WealthBuilder Conference.Building a BusinessThe Prchals got into roofing to "push the industry forward as far as customer experience," Eddie says. The two brothers had been living in Arizona when their brother-in-law—who does solar installations on the East Coast—told them he couldn't count on his area roofing contractors to complete roofs before his solar installations. They saw the opportunity to help and "packed a U-Haul and moved with our Siberian Husky, Brooklyn, and just went for it," Eddie notes. Coming from Arizona, they weren't used to the snow, but now they "love the weather and the seasons and the people," Andrew shares.From day one, Eddie and Andrew say they were driven by their desire to improve the customer experience. Their passion for innovation got them to where they are today.Learning from LeadersReady to positively impact the roofing industry like the Prchal brothers? Eddie explains the realization of your dream idea lies in being persistent—the Gunner Estimator wasn't just some overnight idea. The two men developed the concept and worked on refining the program for 2.5 years before it officially launched. "We're not computer scientists," Andrew jokes. "The real factor was having the idea but then believing in it and taking action."Thanks to the Prchals' dream, interest in innovation, and dedication to customer service, their roofing business is now recognized as an award-winning industry leader. In addition to its latest designation, Gunner Roofing received the GAF Master Elite® President's Club Award in 2022. "At Gunner Roofing our online estimator is just another show of our commitment to the customer," the company's website explains. "We believe this allows us to deliver the easiest checkout process, the highest install standards, and the perfect customer experience from start to finish."Want recognition for your innovative business idea? Contact your local Territory Manager for information on submitting for next year's Cutting Edge Contractor award.*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products. Your dealings with a Contractor, and any services they provide to you, are subject to the GAF Contractor Terms of Use.

By Authors Annie Crawford

August 31, 2023

The VCP tiny home community in Sioux Falls.
In Your Community

Roof Raiser: Unlimited Enterprises Helps Provide Shelter for Veterans

A specialized tiny home community is under development in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that will change the lives of homeless veterans, and GAF Community Contractor Unlimited Enterprises is front and center, installing roofs on these much-needed homes.Doug Tinklenberg, president and owner of Unlimited Enterprises, has grown up in roofing and is a strong believer in supporting his local community. He describes his company as a small, regional construction company with a primary emphasis on residential roofing."My father was a contractor and then started his lumberyard," explains Tinklenberg. "I grew up in the trade, started roofing part-time almost 30 years ago and then about 20 years ago went full time, just with the goal to support the family and have a business to grow and give me the opportunity to be self-employed."Being self-employed was always one of the driving factors for Tinklenberg and his focus has been rewarding. "It's been a very good gig, and it's growing, too," he says. "We have two or three crews going every summer, sometimes four, but I just kind of want to stay that size."Giving Back to the CommunityUnlimited Enterprises does no advertising, has no website, and secures all jobs from word-of-mouth referrals. Tinklenberg credits his giving back to his local community for a lot of the work that he receives. "In our area we've got a good local Habitat for Humanity chapter, and probably 10 or 15 years ago, Ole Olson, a GAF territory manager, said 'Hey, you should get involved with this. You should be doing some of these roofs for Habitat.' It's worked out really, really well," Tinklenberg says. "We'll do four to six roofs a year."When Tinklenberg found out about this new tiny home community coming to Sioux Falls, he knew he wanted to be involved. "When I saw the Veterans Community Project, with the effective community of support that they've built, I knew it would be great," he explains. "It's going to offer these guys that live there some protection, some guidance, and yet give them the freedom they need to still enjoy life."Veterans Community Project (VCP) is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in Kansas City by combat veterans who wanted to ensure fellow veterans would have access to critical support services.Working with GAF, they were able to secure all the roofing materials at no cost to VCP. Additionally, Tinklenberg is donating the labor for the installation. "I didn't serve in the military, but it's my opportunity to serve, in a sense," notes Tinklenberg. "We have to help those that serve so that they're protected when they get home."The houses are provided at no cost to the veterans and come with everything they need to live with dignity while receiving support and care from the VCP team. The team works with the residents to address the root causes behind their homelessness. These services are provided onsite with the end goal of helping the veterans transition back into independent and stable lives.Building Resiliency and Community RelationshipsTinklenberg says that the more he gives back to the community through initiatives like Habitat for Humanity and the VCP project, the more his business thrives. "Every time we've given away a roof, the business just continues to grow," he explains. "I don't do it from a marketing standpoint. I really don't promote it. It's just more about doing the right thing."Additionally, Tinklenberg emphasizes that it's easy to give back. "It's real easy to donate at that level, even as a small business, and it doesn't affect our bottom line," he notes.It's a good thing for the community as well. "Sioux Falls as a whole benefits from it, too, because these veterans are able to be part of the community and this program improves their ability to function within the bigger community," Tinklenberg says.Getting InvolvedThe GAF Community Matters program is committed to building sustainable communities by focusing on the basic needs of shelter, families, and workforces. The VCP tiny home community in Sioux Falls aligns perfectly with the company's commitment to building resilient communities. GAF couldn't complete these initiatives without the help of its nationwide network of professional contractors who partner with the company to make a difference, just like Unlimited Enterprises did.If you would like to be involved in giving back to your local community, visit the GAF Community Matters page to learn more about the opportunities.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

July 24, 2023

Dior Vass son a test roof speaking to GAF Roofing Academy students
In Your Community

Roof Raiser: How Dior Construction Is Giving Back to the Roofing Industry

"Everyone deserves a roof," says roof raiser Dior Vass of Dior Construction, "and we want to give it to them."Thanks to hard work, a commitment to community service, innovative technology use, and ongoing contributions to the roofing industry, Dior's been nailing that goal since 2010. Learn how this GAF Master Elite Contractor* and his northern New Jersey company are raising the roofing game.Raising the Roofing WorkforceEncouraging future roofers is one way Dior raises up the industry. At a recent GAF Roofing Academy course held at GAF headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, Dior shared industry insights and advice with an all-female class from Edison Job Corps.Women are vastly underrepresented and underutilized in the industry and only comprise about 4.6% of roofers. Dior is helping encourage a new wave of skilled laborers by supporting the Roofing Academy as it teaches the necessary skills to enter the roofing industry."Making roofing more appealing and friendly to women opens up a whole new level of opportunities from a business perspective," says Dior. Whether they're going to install shingles, manage projects, or sell jobs, "not actively seeking women out is one of the biggest mistakes a business can make."Dior is excited to see and support GAF making roofing more accessible to women through job training. "GAF Roofing Academy is really creating jobs and building the industry more than I've seen anyone else do," says Dior.As an industry leader, Dior knows the learning never ends. He regularly has GAF come out to teach his staff and notes that "GAF is the world's largest roofing manufacturer and still takes the time to create programs that educate existing roofers."Sharing the Keys to SuccessHow has Dior built such a successful company? Communication. "We've come to learn nothing is possible without it," he says. Along with strong internal and external communication, he attributes Dior Construction's success to people and processes.Dior has a well-planned approach to hiring the right team members and implementing the right processes. "Without the right people, processes will never be followed," he says. And without the right processes, "you can have great people, but they might be on the wrong seat on the bus and not have the opportunities they need to excel in their lives and careers."With solid communication, people, and processes, Dior's teams can provide "the highest level of quality and best service possible."Advancing with AI TechnologyTo stay ahead of the curve, Dior Construction has been using artificial intelligence (AI). One example is its use of AI chatbots to provide instant answers to employees who need technical data. This saves his employees time and his company money."There are thousands of technical bulletins and guides and code books," says Dior. Instead of an employee needing to dig into online manufacturer libraries or search hard copies at the office, Dior uploads roofing resources into an AI database. "Now, the employee can ask detailed and technical questions to the AI like it's a real person, and the AI chatbot will search thousands of papers and quickly provide the correct answer."Dior also uses AI to screen job applicants. "It costs us—and the applicant—time and money if we hire someone who's not the right fit," he says. Based on Dior's parameters, an AI program efficiently filters through job applicants, does a preliminary interview with them, and scores their resumes before they can progress to in-person interviews. "It's amazing," says Dior. "We wouldn't be who we are without our team. That's why it's so important to get the right candidate on board."Giving Back to the CommunitySince the company started in 2010, it has been involved in several programs to help provide safe, affordable housing to those in need. Some of these efforts are in partnership with GAF and Habitat for Humanity, where GAF donates roofing materials and a System Plus Limited Warranty, and Dior donates time and labor for the Habitat for Humanity roofing project.Dior has also helped provide added rebates for US military troops. The GAF Roofs for Troops program offers a $250 rebate when eligible military troops install a qualifying roof system. Dior Construction then matches the GAF rebate, providing local military members with $500 savings total for their new roof.Getting InvolvedDior is a true leader in roofing, from community service to empowering the industry and innovating new strategies for business success. Are you a contractor feeling inspired to get involved, too? Contact your local territory manager to see how you can help support your community, and look for a GAF Roofing Academy class in your area to help inspire future generations of roofers.*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

By Authors Annie Crawford

July 20, 2023

Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!

Subscribe now