Tools for success

Michael Levine doesn’t mince words when it comes to Murton Roofing Corp.

Levine, who serves as president, believes his roofing business is one of the best in the country. It’s a claim he stands firmly behind, knowing the training and motivation he instills in his employees.

“Our philosophy is to produce a better value for our customers,” says Levine, “and that’s not necessarily the least expensive roof. But we think our quality is second to none.”

The company is further aided by the fact that its parent company is Tecta America, an alliance of 47 roofing companies throughout the country.

The set-up allows companies to share resources and insurance savings but operate independently under their own names.

The company has grown from $18 million in 2003 to $36 million in to 2005, and Levine projects 2006 revenue of just under $50 million.

Smart Business spoke with Levine about how he trains, motivates and rewards employees to grow Murton Roofing.

How do you position Murton ahead of the competition?
Training is a big issue for us. We sat down and made a five-year plan a couple years ago, and one of the things we thought all companies are going to eventually have to adopt is an intensive training program, because you can’t just depend on getting people from another roofing company.

We have a big Latin influence [in our employee base] … and we have to be able to communicate with them, so we have a program where we teach them English. We also have a training program at all different levels.

We have an apprenticeship program, we have a foreman program, we have every person in the company above that is required to take 20 hours a year in appropriate training courses that would help them do their job better.

How do you cultivate a culture of safety among your employees?
Everyone goes through safety training before they get on the roof. There’s daily safety talks. We have safety inspectors. We have what they call a behavior-based safety program, and what that basically is is the safety is taught within the job.

What we found is the rules are one thing, but the reality is you could make a million rules, no one’s going to remember them or even read them. So for us, it’s a matter of building it into the whole process so that we reduce accidents very significantly.

How do you build employee loyalty?
A significant amount of our bottom line we give out in bonuses to our people, and that goes from the bottom to the top … to get everybody on the same page and to let people understand that we need to make money, and if we make money, it’s our pleasure to share it with them. We gave out $1.5 million last year in bonuses.

On every job, we look at the quality of the job. We look at the performance. Did we bring it in on time? We look at safety, any customer issues. Are they happy? And based on that, certain employees can earn up to 50 percent of their salary in a bonus.

They know how they did on their job. They know the issues. They know if there’s an accident, then they’re not going to get a bonus. Or if I get a call from a customer saying, ‘This isn’t right,’ or we get called back to the job and there’s a leak, all those go into it.

We have an open book system. Everyone knows exactly how we’re doing. A lot of our people just don’t understand how to read a financial statement, so I’ll do a number of seminars where people get to know what the numbers are, and we pass them around.

I think that creates a better atmosphere, so it’s not like, ‘Hey, they’re making all the money, and I’m not getting anything.’

How do you also create a culture of good customer service?
What we do is try and track how long it takes for us to call a customer back, how long it takes him to get his quote. We stress communication with the customer.

Before we start a job, we like to bring in the owner, and if there’s an architect, a consultant — whatever the interested parties are — we bring in the entire crew and we talk about the job.

Certain people just have certain needs, and unless those are communicated early, you end up doing something not to their liking. And if you just had known, you could have done it right the first time. It just creates more of a teamwork kind of atmosphere.

HOW TO REACH: Murton Roofing Corp.,

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