Bricks in the wall Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2008
Rob Kornahrens, Founder, President and CEO, Advanced Roofing Inc. Rob Kornahrens, Founder, President and CEO, Advanced Roofing Inc.

Rob Kornahrens is in the roofing business, but it’s the bricks — his 400 employees — that keep Advanced Roofing Inc. standing strong.

To make sure he hires staff that can uphold his company’s 26-year reputation, Kornahrens approaches the hiring process with keenness and intensity. The founder, president and CEO starts with behavioral profiling, and after people are hired, he keeps them on track through a rigorous annual review process.

After all, how do you grow a company you started with a $15,000 loan from your father in 1983 to the No. 6 roofing contractor in the nation in 2007, according to an industry magazine?

“You do it through people, through processes, through culture,” Kornahrens, whose company posted 2007 revenue of $75 million.

Smart Business spoke with Kornahrens about how to hire employees who will meet and keep the standard you’ve set for your company.

Separate hires from their personal lives. Obviously, you’ve got to start with resume selection. I

generally look for stability in a person’s life. I know some people get into bad situations, but if I’ve got a resume with five jobs in seven years, it doesn’t go to the top of the pile. I look at resumes for stability.

I appreciate honesty. I’ve had people be honest with me, ‘Hey, I was going through a divorce and this is what happened.’ Something happened in their personal life, something bad, and they had to move on, and they get it straightened out. Things happen to people, and you’ve got to be open-minded and fair with people.

Don’t have a direct manager make the hire. I rely heavily on the interview process, bringing in a couple people to interview. We generally use the manager-once-removed philosophy, which is, if you need to hire somebody for a position, it should be the manager that’s one up. If you allow the manager to do the hiring, in some cases, they’ll overlook somebody that’s better than them.

If we’re hiring a person to be a business development person, I’ll get involved in that rather than just having my head business development guy do the interview himself. Not that I don’t trust the guy, but you want somebody that’s over the person doing the hiring so you’ll get a better hire.

Sometimes they feel threatened if somebody really good comes across in front of them. People have a tendency to fear for their jobs a little bit.

Hire a variety of types. We do personality profiling and behavior profiling. My belief is 90 percent of people repeat their behavior from previous jobs. You’re interviewing and you have had them already take some profiling, and you’re able to figure out what the behavior’s going to be after you hire them.

You look for things and then you drill down on specific cases of experience and not just theoretical questions.

We use an outsource service that’s online. There are questions that steer you to stability. The one profile is called DISC [dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness]. So if we’re looking for somebody

that’s detail-oriented and steady, their personality will come in as a high C high S. If you’re looking for a salesperson, we’re looking for somebody that’s a little more I. I’s are people persons. A D is a ‘get it done, don’t get in my way’ type of person. You need those. Not that any one personality profile is right,

because there are strengths in all of them and weaknesses.

These profiles give you do’s and don’ts for communicating. If they need to talk to Joe Smith, and Joe Smith’s a high D and this other person’s an S, you know you’ve got to deal in facts and talk to them in a certain way — great communication tools once you hire them on.

Keep good hires on track. We use an annual review — the 360 tool. The idea is if I’m evaluating somebody, I get somewhere between six and 10 people that work with this person, not just the person’s boss.

That’s the old conventional way, doing a review and filling a form out. That’s one person’s opinion on how that person’s doing. A 360 is anonymous so people can pretty much say what they really feel.

We sit down with everybody once a year and do that. You’ve got to explain that if one person says something, it might have been a bad day. It’s not that important.

If two say something, they’ve got my attention. And three, there’s something either to build on, because we look at strengths, and then we also look at opportunities for improvement. What are you going to change after this review? Do you want to go to a leadership course?

You’ve got to tell the person, ‘Five people say you’re condescending when you’re talking to people. What are you going to do to make yourself more aware that you’re doing that?’ You do a lot of questions on

what they are going to do about it, not how I’m going to fix it for them. They need to fix it.

Say someone doesn’t have good listening skills. So you’ve got to say, ‘OK, how can you improve your listening skills? Why don’t you make believe you’re Columbo? And rather than not letting the person finish and you not listening, ask questions.’

Listening has to improve when you ask someone a question and they’re responding.

How to reach: Advanced Roofing Inc., (800) 638-6869 or