Phone: (414) 332-1139
History and Philosophy:      Our Corporate Culture

A letter from James J. Godsil, President of Community Roofing, Inc.
on the eve of Community Roofing's 25th anniversary:
Community Roofing, Inc.
Established 1975

Corporate Headquarters: 325 E. Euclid Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207   (414) 332-1139

Dear Reader:

We have been privileged to serve Milwaukee's homeowners and businesses since 1975. We hope to prove worthy of creating an institution that will prosper well into the 21st Century.

In our early years, we focused on products and services that were primarily "functional," i.e. stopping leaks and renewing roof systems in the most cost-effective way possible. This includes reroofs with asphalt and fiberglass shingles, "tear-offs," repairs, small and medium sized flat roofs, and aluminum gutters. We have serviced about 4,000 clients along these lines.

Lately we have begun to branch out into restoration projects that are as much "art" as function, e.g. slate, tile and copper work. I personally am beginning to tell people that I am an "apprentice restoration peddler" for my second adult life. This means that I am seeking restoration masters to learn from and to promote.

At this point, Josh Fraundorf, Karl Ramirez, and Dan Mickelson are handling the lion's share of residential roofing projects for Community Roofing; my associates in related trades include David North, of David North Roofing, for slate, tile, and copper; Norman Dunkelberger of Centaur Restoration, for architectural art and masonry; Erik Lindberg, of Community Building and Restoration, for carpentry and custom architectural woodworking; Juanita Ellias, of Rivercity Woodworking, for fine art, design and restoration; Al Bardin, for painting and handyman work; Tom Price, for high end decorative work and remodeling; Dan Vogel, of Heartwoods Furniture, for furniture restoration and refinishing; Denis Kavanagh of Kavanagh Construction, for tile work, remodeling and restoration.

We hope that Community Roofing, Inc. and its employees and our partner companies may be an embryonic Milwaukee Guild, connecting restoration roofers, carpenters, sheet metalers, masons, painters, and architectural artists. It has been my pleasure and my honor to work with my associates. I suspect you will share my sentiments if you sign up with us for a project.

For the past quarter century, we have worked very hard in a very dangerous and complex industry. We have been often humbled by the subtlety and mystery of water and the challenge of restoring our historic homes and buildings. We have made mistakes that, in retrospect, seem outrageous. I personally have worked on several hundred "callbacks", i.e. deviations from perfection noticed either by our client or by the penetrating power of water.

We have, however, dug in and survived many challenges. We have been very focused on learning from our mistakes and expanding our information base regarding the most appropriate strategy for roof system repair and restoration, specific to the particulars of each building and each building owner's relationship with their property.

From Community Roofing Collective to Community Roofing, Inc.
In 1974 I helped Launch the Community Roofing Collective in hopes of creating a "worker-owned" company. Hierarchy and capitalist exploitation of labor would be minimized as the workers would be the owners, controlling what they made, how they made it, and how the profits were distributed. The best model for this vision was developed by a Yugoslavian-born economist named Jaraslov Vanek in a work entitled, "Toward a Self-Managed Industrial Sector in the U.S. A." Vanek called for "support corporations" designed to create and provide services for "satellite firms" of self-managed worker-owners. These semi-autonomous work units would give rise to more attentive, ambitious, and cooperative work relationships, minimizing the ancient conflict of "labor" versus "capital," contributing to the humanization of the workplace, and freeing labor from alienating work.

About a year later I became president of Community Roofing, Inc., a business entity in essence aiming to simply provide employees with a decent wage for an honest days work and clients with repairs and new roofs that worked. I had discovered that many of those concerned about "worker exploitation" were not sufficiently committed to the very hard, dirty, and dangerous work of roofing. Additionally, those who had the right stuff to actually do the work, were not very interested in spending time with business or ideological issues. As president of a small corporation I had one hell of a time learning how to actually do business, recruit and retain good help, develop repair and restoration techniques that were cost-effective and guaranteeable, deal with insurance companies, the government, occasional clients who were either crazy or crooks, etc., etc. The "red roofer" was hard pressed to simply keep the business sound, much less contribute toward a radically reformed work-place as envisioned by Vanek and other proponents of self-managed, worker-owned companies.

Twenty-five years later, this "broken-roofer" is revisiting Vanek and the concept of worker-ownership. No longer physically up to the challenge of roofing work myself, I now must make my living by helping create an effective organization. Notions of self-managed work units make the most sense in this context. In my next installment, I'll explain why.

How to Pay Less and Earn More
I will charge you less (homeowners)
Pay you more (roofers)

You are
Easy going
Down to earth
If you..

Laugh a lot
And ..
Embody the tao.


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